Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, February 04, 2003

We all think we know what a just war is when we see one. Some of us think we have it straight from God.

In recent weeks the Anglican Primate – Archbishop Carnley, the Anglican Bishop of the Canberra region - Bishop Browning - and the Catholic Bishop of Canberra – Bishop Power (speaking for the Pope) have all declared an attack on Iraq to be immoral.

Yesterday, at the joint Christian ceremony to mark the opening of Federal Parliament, Prime Minister John Howard made some heart-felt observations to Bishop Power as the episcopal powerhouses lined up in their frocks to shake the hand of the “immoral” Prime Minister.

He thought he was talking man-to-man, but the hounds of the media recorded his words. Tomorrow they should be recorded on the website of the 7.30 Report and elsewhere.

In Uncle’s paraphrase, Howard pointed out to Power that no-one had a monopoly on morality, and that he had anguished as much about the issue of Australia being involved in war as they had.

He might have asked Browning, but didn’t, how the agreement of Chirac and Putin to a war turned immorality into morality. Bishop Power at least deferred to a more respectable authority in the Pope.

Auntie’s Life Matters, which serves the role of the old Church women’s groups combined with the confessional, was confidently tackling the morality of war on Monday morning.

Geraldine Doogue read out the minders' script, telling us that George W., unlike his father, had not discussed the merits of attacking Iraq in terms of the theology of the just war.

What did this say about George W.? speculated Geraldine. Did it tell us about his policies (It’s all about oil!)? Did it tell us about the man? (Cowboy! Warmonger!).

Sad to say, it told us nothing. The first guest pointed out that George W., like his father, had dealt with the theology of the matter.

Once again, Auntie’s presenters’ minders found their ideology secure and their knowledge deficient.

To make it worse, both guests think that, in Iraq’s case, the conditions of a just war have been met.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

The emails from outraged Communards at large have been flooding into Life Matters ever since. There will need to be some re-balancing.

Bishops with morals that depend on the politics of foreign politicians; broadcasters whose stories are slave to their ideologies.

None of them, on this issue, worth a cracker.