[It is sadly true, as the Archbishop notes here, that Americans have confused their depredations upon others with a divine mission -- our "Manifest Destiny."Â This seems to have been true from the earliest arrival of our British ancestors on native American soil when the former asserted their g-d given right to slaughter and despoil the latter in the name of a "New Israel":
Guess we are still at it over there.Â I don''t buy the innocence of the Brits, however, from which we got out disposition to dominate and steal.Â Ed Kent]
THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the United States wields its power in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday.
Rowan Williams claimed that Americaâ€™s attempt to intervene overseas by â€œclearing the decksâ€ with a â€œquick burst of violent actionâ€ had led to â€œthe worst of all worldsâ€.
In a wide-ranging interview with a British Muslim magazine, the Anglican leader linked criticism of the United States to one of his most pessimistic declarations about the state of western civilisation.
He said the crisis was caused not just by Americaâ€™s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the â€œchosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of Godâ€™s purpose for humanityâ€.
Williams went beyond his previous critique of the conduct of the war on terror, saying the United States had lost the moral high ground since September 11. He urged it to launch a â€œgenerous and intelligent programme of aid directed to the societies that have been ravaged; a check on the economic exploitation of defeated territories; a demilitarisation of their presenceâ€.
He went on to suggest that the West was fundamentally adrift: â€œOur modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well. There is something about western modernity which really does eat away at the soul.â€
Williams suggested American leadership had broken down: â€œWe have only one global hegemonic power. It is not accumulating territory: it is trying to accumulate influence and control. Thatâ€™s not working.â€
He contrasted it unfavourably with how the British Empire governed India. â€œIt is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly, thatâ€™s what the British Empire did â€” in India, for example.
â€œIt is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of
violent action will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together â€” Iraq, for example.â€
In the interview in Emel, a Muslim lifestyle magazine, Williams makes only mild criticisms of the Islamic world. He said the Muslim world must
acknowledge that its â€œpolitical solutions were not the most impressiveâ€.
He commends the Muslim practice of praying five times a day, which he says allows the remembrance of God to be â€œbuilt in deeply in their daily rhythmâ€.
Only by recovering prophetic and objective modes of preaching, in
faithfulness to the gospel of Christ crucified and in contradiction to
societyâ€™s profane habits and priorities, can we truly challenge our dying culture and reveal to it its own possibilities for resurrection.
Alan E Lewis. â€œBetween Cross and Resurrection. A Theology of Holy Saturdayâ€ Eerdmans 2001 p 377
“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)
Ed KentÂ 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]