They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Monday, September 19, 2005

British bishops lament "litany of errors" in Iraq

yahoo/reuters: The West has committed a "litany of errors" in Iraq and the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 was driven as much by American interest as by concern for the Iraqi people, British church leaders said on Monday.

In a wide-ranging report, bishops from the Church of England also criticised Western policy towards Iran and said the European Union had not tried hard enough to end a stand-off over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The bishops said they were worried by the influence of evangelical Christianity - "with its apocalyptic overtones and its very clear political agenda in relation to the Middle East" - on U.S. foreign policy.

The report was commissioned by the House of Bishops, the most senior tier of the Church of England's hierarchy.

A rare Anglican foray into international politics, it was produced by a working group headed by one of Britain's most senior religious leaders, Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries.

"The military action (in Iraq) was gravely mistaken," the report said, while accepting that toppling former leader Saddam Hussein was a laudable aim.

"There needs to be a clear public recognition of the way that the West has contributed to the present tragic situation. There is a long litany of errors in the West's handling of Iraq that needs to be remembered."

Accepting that the U.S. and British governments were unlikely to apologise for their actions in Iraq, the bishops said the churches could step in and orchestrate "a mature, public act of institutional repentance".

They called for "a public gathering... at which Christian leaders meet with religious leaders of other, mainly Muslim, traditions".

The Church of England has criticised Prime Minister Tony Blair for taking Britain to war with Iraq, a decision for which Blair, a practising Christian, has refused to apologise.

On Iran, the bishops said the prospects for a thawing of relations with the West appeared bleak.

"As long as the U.S. remains wedded to its policy of regime change in Iran, the prospects of a negotiated settlement will remain elusive," they said in the report, commissioned late last year to examine issues related to terrorism.

"U.S. rhetoric which labels Iran as a member of the 'axis of evil' can only prove counter-productive," they said.

In the United States, the bishops said they saw "a very worrying political aspect" in the rise of evangelical Christianity and its influence on U.S. policy.

They described the "strong sense of moral righteousness" underpinning U.S. society as both sincere and dangerous. Link