Since stepping away from politics in 2007 former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has included a role as a peace envoy in the Middle East as part of his portfolio of involvements. Blair is a practicing Christian who debated atheist celebre Christopher Hitchens in Toronto a few years back and he read the luminous love passage from Corinthians at Princess Diana's funeral in Westminster Abbey.
Yesterday Tony Blair, Christian and peacemaker publicly apologized for being a warmonger -- sort of. As the Chilcot Report was issued with its condemnation of Britain's involvement in the invasion of Iraq Blair apologized as so many leaders do, accepting responsibility for entering into an ill-advised war while justifying his choices at the same time;" I did it because I thought it was right and because I thought human cost of inaction would be greater for us and for world in the longer term." The Chilcot Report includes these points:
The UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.
- Military action might have been necessary later, but in March 2003: There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein; The strategy of containment could have been adapted and continued for some time; The majority of the Security Council supported continuing UN inspections and monitoring.
- Judgements about the severity of threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - known as WMD - were presented with a certainty that was not justified.
- Intelligence had "not established beyond doubt" that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons.
- Policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence assessments. It was not challenged, and should have been. .
- The UK's actions undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council: The UN's Charter puts responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the Security Council. The UK government was claiming to act on behalf of the international community "to uphold the authority of the Security Council". But it knew it did not have a majority supporting its actions.
- Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were "wholly inadequate".
- The government failed to achieve the stated objectives it had set itself in Iraq. More than 200 British citizens died as a result of the conflict. Iraqi people suffered greatly. By July 2009, at least 150,000 Iraqis had died, probably many more. More than one million were displaced.
Christians have long debated the possibility of a "just war" as a lesser evil in certain circumstances. I do have great respect for those who courageously serve a greater good. Still, violence, including military conflict is a sin which generates its own blinding energy, at times causing decent human beings to engage in terrible acts.