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Conscience And Conversions

Tony Blair’s hard line on Iraq alienated three Roman Catholics who worked for him in Downing Street. All three, who were experts in foreign affairs, were deeply worried by what they saw as the rush to war in 2003, The Independent has learnt. ~The Independent

There is something strangely depressing about this news.  It is somehow less surprising that the unreflective and incurious Mr. Bush went ahead with the invasion of Iraq, when he was surrounded by either secular careerists or fellow evangelicals with no great grounding in ideas derived from the thought of the Fathers, and further encouraged by Catholic neoconservatives who provided the moral and intellectual fig leafs to assuage any doubts.  Likewise, while it seemed to be especially misguided that the then-head of the Union in Germany, Angela Merkel, backed the war despite the Vatican’s clear objections to the conflict, Merkel’s own East German Protestant background made some sense of her indifference to these objections.  There is something a bit more disturbing about Blair, who should hardly have been entirely ignorant of or completely indifferent to the words of Pope John Paul II or then-Cardinal Ratzinger on these matters given the background of his wife, the upbringing of his children and so on, and who had the advice of such skeptical Catholic foreign policy experts, nonetheless leading the way for the invasion.  It is no less disturbing that he is now apparently coming to Rome as if it were the most normal thing, while an aggressive war that he has helped to wage has been destroying the Catholic and other Christian communities of Iraq.  (There was also his endorsement of the Israeli campaign in Lebanon last year, which is another post in its own right.)  See, for instance, the fate of Fr. Ragheed Ganni and three of his deacons, who were slain in Mosul by Muslims.  Their story is described by Pat Buchanan and discussed in multiple posts by Andrea Kirk Assaf.  There you can learn more about one episode of the new Christian martyrs of Iraq.  The blood of martyrs is indeed the seed of the Church, but there is something just a little unseemly about a man who has helped to unleash the slaughter against his Christian brethren convert to a given confession when he is at least indrectly responsible for inflicting suffering and martyrdom on that confession’s members.  It would be almost as bizarre as Bill Clinton becoming Orthodox.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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