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March 14, 2006


Pertinacious Papist

"Spirit of Vatican II" (a.k.a. Fr. Joseph O'Leary), you've declared in a comment box on my blox that it "takes heroism to rise above one's closest instincts to face very, very unpleasant truth." You've also declared that you do not expect "facts or cool reason" from me on this subject, as I imagine you expect that we do from you. But since a pertinacious hot head such as I clearly has no place in a debate among such cool headed and heroic minds as yours, I should think a gentleman such as yourself would condescend to entertain the ideas of a mind at least as cool, if perhaps not quite so heroic, as your own? Try George Weigel's essay, Iraq: Then and Now, First Things (April 2006), 34-42, for starters.

Spirit of Vatican II

Weigel, like many neocons, affects "cool reason", yet his thought is fixated in pre-2003. He still believes that the PNAC and the 2002 National Security document breathe the spirit of an idealist quest to bring democracy to the whole world. This he sees as the noble motivation of the Iraq invasion, which he also justifies by the sincere belief in WMDs at the time (Slavoj Zizek pointed out that they were a myth as early as 2000), by Saddam's links with Al-Qaeda, by Saddam's status as a "genocidal maniac" (never mind that the alleged genocidal activities date to the 1980s and were committed with assistance -- including chemical material -- and encouragement from America). These casus belli put forward by Bush in his statements at the time have long been unmasked as spurious pretexts. Weigel makes no mention of the mammoth military bases or the control of oil -- the hegemony motives clearly primary in the US's actual thinking. Weigel's very permissive take on just war theory has been refuted by Rowan Williams: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/sermons_speeches/2003/031014.html

Spirit of Vatican II

Here is a particularly chilling paragraph, in which Weigel seems to gloat over the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, because the slaughter has ensured the US's peace of mind about the threat of Saddam's (non-existent) WMD's to its security:

"Prudent statecraft assumed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction; the debate was over what to do about that. And, as James Q. Wilson has pointed out, whatever else can be said about prewar intelligence failures, we now know for certain than an aggressive Iraqi regime does not have weapons of mass destruction with which to threaten the region and the world. Ensuring the disarmament of Iraq was one facet of the just cause argument in favor of deposing Saddam by military force; that desirable and morally defensible end has been achieved."

Terrence Berres

The Archbishop of Canterbury said of Mr. Weigel's work,

"It is a formidable and sophisticated essay, building upon the author’s earlier work on the theological definitions of peace and order and upon the extensive work over several decades of James Turner Johnson on just war in the modern age. With much of Weigel’s critique, I am in sympathy. However, I believe that his account of the tradition is in one respect seriously questionable, and that his defence of pre-emptive action cannot be accommodated as easily as he thinks within the terms of classical just war theory."

Even if the Archbishop established this, it's not a "refutation" of Weigel.

Spirit of Vatican II

Terrence, I have long experience of the angelic mildness of Rowan Williams when he delivers a devastating criticism (he seems to have done it to me on one page of his book "On Christian Theology" -- but so suavely that I am not sure!). Weigel was left reeling! The critics of Williams want him to be louder and shriller -- toward ECUSA or the Nigerians as the case may be -- but his exquisite courtesy is what lends its persuasive force to his interventions. "in one respect seriously questionable" and "cannot be accommodated as easily as he thinks within the terms of classical just war theory" are very strong criticisms indeed if you know RW's language. Weigel trumpets himself as a hard-thinking just war theorist and Williams shows that Weigel does not know what he is talking about and that the entire weight of just war theory is against pre-emption.

Terrence Berres

So would his statement that he could "just about envisage a situation in which, over a very long period, the Anglican Church thought about it [women's ordination] again, but I would need to see what the theological reason for that would be" constitute devastating criticism?

He subsequently said "From the very beginning of this issue I have been a supporter of the ordination of women and have not doubted the rightness of the decision or the blessings it has brought." But that's so clear and direct, in form if not substance rather like something George Weigel would say.

Spirit of Vatican II

ugly truths surface: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/mar/06/james-steele-america-iraq-video

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