Friday, 9 October 2009

Iraq Memorial Day - update

Good for Archbishop Rowan Williams for having the integrity not to let the Iraq event at St Paul's Cathedral be a complete whitewash for the architects of the war.

The headlines are talking about him attacking high cost of war, decrying human cost, etc. though he was a bit more nuanced. Here are the important quotes from his address.

Many people of my generation and younger grew up doubting whether we should ever see another straightforward international conflict, fought by a standing army with conventional weapons. We had begun to forget the realities of cost. And when such conflict appeared on the horizon, there were those among both policy makers and commentators who were able to talk about it without really measuring the price, the cost of justice..

The conflict in Iraq will, for a long time yet, exercise the historians, the moralists, the international experts. In a world as complicated as ours has become, it would be a very rash person who would feel able to say without hesitation, this was absolutely the right or the wrong thing to do, the right or the wrong place to be.

FROM TODAY'S GUARDIAN - NOT INCLUDED IN YESTERDAY'S POST, BUT POSSIBLY THE MOST STINGING OF WILLIAMS' WORDS: Williams criticised the "invisible enemies – letting ends justify means, letting others rather than oneself carry the cost, denying the difficulties or the failures so as to present a good public face" – that had menaced those involved in the conflict...

The moral credibility of any country engaged in war depends a lot less on the rhetoric of politicians and commentators than on the capacity of every serving soldier to discharge these responsibilities with integrity and intelligence. Reflecting on the years of the Iraq campaign, we cannot say that no mistakes were ever made (when has that ever been the case?). But we can be grateful for the courage and honesty shown in facing them.

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