Thinking Anglicans

Rowan Williams on US foreign policy

Updated Monday morning

The Archbishop of Canterbury has given an interview to a British Muslim magazine, Emel.

The Sunday Times has a news report on this, US is‘worst’ imperialist: archbishop by Abul Taher and has also published the full text of the interview as a PDF file, which you can read here. The interview is more balanced than the newspaper report of it.

Other British newspapers reported on this:

Stephen Bates Guardian Archbishop thrown into row over US Middle East policy

Auslan Cramb Daily Telegraph Archbishop’s assault on US foreign policy

Ruth Gledhill The Times Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, gets political blessing for his attack on America’s foreign policy

And the BBC reported it as Archbishop attacks ‘violent’ US

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Martin Reynolds
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I read the Sunday Times piece and then the interview in “Emel”. I had to go back and check, thinking: “this cannot be the article referenced by the Sunday Times.” I matched the quotes, but the “scathing” attack on Christian Zionism is twisted into a general attack on America. Nearly the whole piece was a constructed fiction. This is dangerous journalism, and I fear deliberate – not due to ignorance of the context. Of course, Dr Williams did not give this journalist an interview – and judging by this perverse reading of the “Emel” piece – Dr Williams, and no… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Okay…..So what does ++Williams not able to understand and parallel the actions of BushCo Inc. and those of ++Akinola & ++Venables?

Probably the same reason he didn’t say anything until Prime Minister Brown succeeded Blair and started doing the right thing and by withdrawing from the fiasco resulting from the Iraq invasion.

A bully, is a bully, plain and simple, and a coward is one that waits until safely ensconced until speaking their conscience.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

I can’t access the original article, so can only read the excerpts and won’t comment on that, except to say that I am no fan of our current policy and count the minutes until Crawford TX has its very own Village Idiot back permanently.

Still, it would seem that the Archbishop has a crisis nearer to hand, and one he can actully act on, that should be commanding his attention.

Why can he not speak as strongly to the border crossing and attempted property theft going on in the church he is supposed to be the tuitular leader of?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I agree entirely with Martin Reynolds. It is difficult to recognise the Emel piece (beautiful photographing, by the way) in the Times article.

And I don’t for a second doubt it’s intentional.

The answer to Choirboy seems to be anti Modernism.

The personal anti Modernism of Dr Williams makes him not see the anti Modernism of the Americans (clergy as well as politicians) into social, economic and legal Anarchy and their supporting Primates for what it’s worth.

There are some really strange sayings in this interview.

Prior Aelred
Guest

I concur completely with what Martin Reynolds has to say — my first reaction was dismay at another tin-eared over subtle statement from the ABC (& the desire to remind him of the Opium Wars — saving the Empire by forcing the people of the planet’s most populous nation to become drug addicts was no better than what the Bush administration has done to the Iraqis, even if less direct) — but reading the actual interview I found nothing which I could not have said (in fact, _have_ said) myself. Of course in the USA we have Fox News &… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

One wonders whether the Bush/Blair duo would have invaded Iraq if they didn’t have strong religious convictions.

The myth that there is a clash between religion and secularism needs to be dispelled: the areas of tension usually lie between those who interpret their faith rather dogmatically for political ends, and the rest of society which does not. The other myth is that there is a Muslim identity, as Ali Eteraz explains quite well in the Guardian:

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ali_eteraz/2007/11/mistaken_identity.html

Richard Lyon
Guest
Richard Lyon

I am an American who opposes the imperialistic tendencies of US foreign policy. Whether this piece is entirely accurate or not, Rowan Williams has a history of expressing opposition to those imperialist tendencies. It strikes me as decidedly ironic that he is increasingly supporting reactionary movements at the expense of progressive movements that share his views on international political relationships. It seems to me far more fundamentally important to deal with issues of war and peace than worrying about who sleeps with whom.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Perhaps the Archbishop should stick to trying to govern the C of E: he seems to have been something of an absentee landlord during recent developments.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

choirboyfromhell, I’ve been wondering the same thing for some time now. “So what does ++Williams not able to understand and parallel the actions of BushCo Inc. and those of ++Akinola & ++Venables?” My guess is that ++Rowan initially saw (or was led to see) the elevation of +Gene Robinson by the Episcopal Church in 2003 as a unilateralist, pre-emptive strike, the same kind of action as the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2002. It is, however, the charismatic-evangelical breakaway groups within the Episcopal Church that share the Bush Administration’s ideologies. (And, of course, it is they who “activated the… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

(Continued from previous post…) The American “Christianists” in turn enthusiastically supported the US invasion of Iraq, pronouncing it a new Crusade against Islam, and they continue to support the war in Iraq when almost all others have dropped away. The Anglican Communion Network has been nourished by this Christianist energy in the US wherever it was to be found, whether in the rural Deep South or the hardscrabble mountain areas around Pittsburgh known as “Pennsyltucky.” The Network is strongly pro-Bush, pro-Iraq War, and hard rightist on economic as well as social issues. Thus the Network has consistently attacked the Episcopal… Read more »

Mark W.
Guest

Prior Aelred commented, “Of course in the USA we have Fox News & are now accustomed to this sort of substitute for actual journalism.”

If I’m not mistaken, both Fox News and the Times of London are owned by News Corporation of whom, K. Rupert Murdoch is the CEO and which you can expect only the most right-wing bias in reporting.

Weiwen
Guest

argh! Tahel should have been MUCH more careful with his quotes. nowhere in the article does Rowan actually use “worst” and “imperialist” together to describe the US. he doesn’t even say “imperialist”. yes, he’s a critic of US and UK policy in Iraq, which is good. but the title was quoted completely out of context, which raises doubts about Tahel’s journalistic integrity.

JPM
Guest
JPM

The right wing spin in the Times piece really is appalling, even by Murdoch standards. Having read the actual interview, I don’t see anything I would really object to or haven’t said before, except for the silliness about trying to spin British imperialism as a charitable enterprise. Apparently someone tipped off the extra-chromosome right in this country, including the “Anglican” secessionists, because the Times piece is followed by lots and lots of angry comments from the sort who think that the only thing wrong with George Bush is that he still hasn’t killed some of the Arabs. I wish that… Read more »

Phylmom
Guest
Phylmom

Charlotte – Your analysis is wrong on many counts. You seem to equate the reactionary view of the deep South with the Appalachian area around Pittsburgh and environs. They could not be more different. I think the situation in Dio of Pittsburgh has much to do with the establishment of Trinity Seminary, a basically fundamentalist institution. But when you make remarks such as “Pennsyltucky” which is a very bigoted remark (I bet you think you are some kind of liberal, but you are not) you are trashing people from the Appalachian region for no reason at all. The people of… Read more »

Joseph O'Leary
Guest

The interview is quiet and reflective as usual, but even if it were as loud as the Times reports it, it would still be welcome. He has struck a blow against the biggest travesty of Christianity in recent times — the hijacking of its language for the nefarious purposes of American imperialism. The naivety and genuine innocence of many of the American responses on the Times thread show how deep is the enthrallment of Americans to this idol. The adhominem attacks on the speaker, his church and Christianity itself actually suggest to me that all three are more relevant that… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I think the spin is getting out of hand. Invented quotes are used to boast failed policies.

Injust war, torture…

The Campaign journalism displayed in these articles (and in the links to The Times article and in its comments) is really apalling.

The Archbishop is being used and abused for ideological gains. It’s not the first time.

You will all have to be very careful about this sort of thing – or Democracy itself is soon dead.

David Hein
Guest
David Hein

I agree that the interview is far more thoughtful than it will be portrayed in the press (left AND right, if you think it’s only the right wing press who will try to score points off this you are deluded). Still it seems to me in reading the article that Dr. Williams is pandering to the interviewer, often making strong statements after being prompted by a question. He should have known that his statements would be taken out of context and broadcast around the world. I also feel like he should counterbalance his criticism of America and the West with… Read more »

John B. Chilton
Guest

I’m a Yank. Is it just that The Sunday Times isn’t up to the quality of The Times? I often find myself disagreeing Ruth Gledhill’s writing, too. Though she often blames the headlines editor. And then there’s The Telegraph (not to mention the Sunday Telegraph). Stories there are very thinly sourced and weasel worded. The comparison with the New York Times and the Washington Post is really quite embarassing for UK journalism in my opinion. You’d never confuse a NY Sun article with a NYT article. Not so The Times and The (UK) Sun. For my money I trust the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Göran,
I’d like to see some of her answers to the questions in the comment section.

It’s a fascinating article and yet I’m not sure I agree with all of it.

To believe in someone is certainly not a mistranslation for to believe someone, the 2 are totally different concepts. Unless she’s referring to the (not quoted) Greek original here? Could you confirm that?

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Wow thanks lots for the Nylund publisher link. Guess Jensen is not the essence of Aussie faith after all, and I rather think Nylund’s work will further rock the boats, even while subsequent waves from the New Biology are still whooshing all around us. What an exciting time to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. We cannot afford for the conservative realignment fits and starts to cloud our spiritual eyes to see this. An absolutely stunningly revolutionary time to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. Expect lots of attack on Dr. N. For sure. Then again, probably no… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I’d need to have a verse… I have observed a difference in the articles used with pístis, but I don’t quite remember what it was ;=) The word is about trusting basically. So not simple intellectual assent, as per the Scholastic tradition. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Ms Nyland is referring to the conceptual change/difference trust/believe. Sometimes new concepts are expressed (awkwardly) in old terms – at least for a while. I’ve just ordered The Source book, we’ll see when it arrives… The basic problem with translations from Bible Greek is that they are done early on by people… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

As folks here know, I have often been highly critical of Archbishop Williams. However, in the context of his interview in “Emel” magazine he makes some very good points. About 70 per cent of Americans want out of Iraq; many have come to the conclusion that we should not have gotten involved there in the first place. That’s hardly an “anti-American” point of view. It’s pretty mainstream today, even in the USA.

lapsang
Guest
lapsang

I live with and care for someone with an extra chromosone and would prefer “extra-chromosone” not to be used as an insult. JPM, please don’t take this personally. From your comment I suspect we are otherwise in agreement. Thanks.

EPfizH
Guest
EPfizH

What has happened to the Times? I used to trust it like the BBC for accuracy. I may not of liked what was reported but I expected it to be fair and balanced. Now, its Ruth Gledhill? It’s more like Fox News is “fair and balanced” Where is the direct reporting, not derived or spun out of somebody else’s blog or press release. Is it because it has become a Murdoch property? Twenty years ago Ruth Gledhill would have been gone after her second errant or misguided story. I am saddened by how +Rowan is being treated. The predigested spin… Read more »

Alan Harrison
Guest
Alan Harrison

David Hein wrote: “The human rights abuses that he targets in America occur routinely in the Muslim world, which has zero concept of separation of church and state and a high incidence of violent suppression of dissent and free expression by dictators and unelected officials.” But one of the few countries in the Muslim world which +did+ have separation of mosque and state was Iraq under the robustly secular Ba’ath regime. One of the less rational decisions of the American government was to react to an attack by Islamist nutters by overthrowing the regime in the Arab world which took… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Goran, Not to mention that ‘metanoia’ does not mea falling into a heap of regretful tears at some sin or another, which is what is usually meant by ‘repentance’, as the word is usually translated, but actually refers to a change of thought, belief, attitude towards ourselves and our place in the Universe. To repent is to try to understand reality as God understands reality, and to try to live according to that new understanding, with grief at the ways in which one has kept one’sself blind to that reality. Seen in that light, “Hallelujah, ’tis done, I believe on… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Thanks for the nyland link, I’ve added it to my favourites 🙂 Yes, the article has been sensationalised through a biased filter, but then Christians do that all the time. Look at how we rant at how Christians are being persecuted in non-Christian nations but are quiescent to abuse of children in our own dioceses (unless we might have to open coffers to resolve lawsuits)… That said, the article provides an opportunity to take a step back and look at what kind of tactics are being denounced. When you go beyond looking at who is throwing what hits at whom,… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Phylmom, sorry I stepped on your toes. But I’m from the region, and “Pennsyltucky” is what we all called it.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

EPfizH
This was the _Sunday Times_.
The newspaper title is separately edited and separately staffed, although (now) owned by the same owner as the [Monday to Saturday] title _The Times_. The two titles also share a common website.
Ruth Gledhill works for the weekday newspaper.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I’m from Pennsylvania, too, and the standard line is that PA is a state with Philadelphia at one end, Pittsburgh at the other, and Alabama in the middle.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

I’m thinking that if people in the Appalachian mountain regions would rather be treated with respect than otherwise, that’s certainly understandable and something one ought to do.

JPM
Guest
JPM

Pat, I grew up in Alabama and lived for a while in central Pennsylvania. The latter makes the former look downright cosmopolitan.

Lapsang, point taken.

Ley Druid
Guest
Ley Druid

In Anderson’s fairy tale, people took interest in the fact that the Emperor had no clothes, I suspect that few care that the same is true of Dr. Williams. I quote Williams from the Sarah Joseph article: “it is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly that’s what the British Empire did – in India for example. It 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… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Honestly, I think that Dr. Williams is indefensible.”

It may so be, but what is worrying is not really that a churchman and academic doesn’t understand any politicks, but the wilful and unforgivable campaign set up to discredit him, and his church, and TEC and the AC and the Gospel on the basis of forged quotes and outlandish interpretations by dishonest people in The Times (and the Telegraph), formely a grand old lady now prostitute to the Powers that be.

The Foxification of Media.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

” One of the less rational decisions of the American government was to react to an attack by Islamist nutters by overthrowing the regime in the Arab world which took least nonsense from mullahs.” That’s what comes of having The Decider in office. I suspect that some years down the road a number of the people – like Colin Powell – who served His Bushiness and were decieved or over-ruled by Cheney et alia – may write some interesting and horrifying memoirs. Some of course will be ‘don’t blame me’ written with all the clarity of hindsight, but eventually we’ll… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“The recent American involvement in Iraq is a demonstrably stupid endeavor – anyone with a modicum of intelligence should be able to cobble together a coherent argument against it. But no, Dr Williams has to resort to setting up a straw man. I have never heard anyone, in government or elsewhere ever suggest that the American plan was ever to “move on and other people will put things back together.” The continued American presence in Iraq clearly refutes this.” Actually, that was, indeed, the initial plan of the Bush administration. Some relevant comments from the time: “It will be a… Read more »

Alan Harrison
Guest
Alan Harrison

Ley Druid wrote: “Rightly or wrongly is that what the British Empire did – in Ireland for example, “pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it”?” Ireland’s not a particularly good example. Ireland was, and Northern Ireland remains, a part of the UK. That distinguished servant of the British empire, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, was an Irishman. The great author Jonathan Swift was an Irishman. The first woman elected to Parliament, although she did not take her seat, was an Irishwoman, Constance Markiewicz, representing a seat which is now in the Irish Republic. Irish history doesn’t always… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Ley One of the reasons they haven’t extricated themselves from Iraq is a major credibility issue. Around a year ago I heard that the US’s international reputation is at the lowest it has ever been and the only other time it got that low was during the Vietnam war. One of the main reasons they haven’t been able to extricate themselves is that even in the Whitehouse they are trying to work out how to get out without leaving the mess they left in South East Asia. Remember Cambodia and its killing fields. For the first 20 or so years… Read more »

Joseph O'Leary
Guest

Just one little doubt about the points made above: surely the setting up of permanent US military bases in Iraq was part of the original plan? They did not realize that the price of putting that plan into action would be to have an army bogged down there on the ground for years. But it seems that this is a price they are still willing to pay. The British had Amritsars and Bloody Sundays — shooting into unarmed crowds — when the Indian and Irish rose up against them; but the US troops had two Amritsars in their very first… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Joseph There are local peoples who consider that to be the case. There are also Iraqi’s who wonder if some of the bombings aren’t done by the US in order to justify their needing to stay. Such postulations are conjecture and lead to conspiracy theories. What I do know is that if the US is still foolishly attempting to establish any kind of permanent military base in any Islam nation in the middle east then they have rocks in their heads or a vacuum that the wind whistles through. They just don’t get how much of an anethama such a… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Well, the good thing about the Archbishop’s maladroit comments, however misquoted he may have been, is that he has clearly enraged the conservatives in America now. Over on Stand Firm, they’re all calling for his head, which I think is good news for us. There’s not much point in the Archbishop bending over backwards to please only the group that hates him, is there? Or does Rowanic self-immolative masochism stretch that far, I wonder?

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Over on Stand Firm, they’re all calling for his head,”

I can’t bear to look, are they somehow claiming that opposition to war isn’t Christian, or just opposition to the policies of God’s Own Party?

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Ford: I think it was the Archbishop passing judgment on America that has got their goat. Weirdly, beacuse they want him to pass judgemnt on some Americans, just not their sort.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Well, Fr. Mark, in some circles in the US, Ithough have no idea if conservative Episcopalians are in those circles, it is publically taught that to vote Democrat is a sin! What’s more, when Bush went into Iraq, many of these churches held recruiting drives in the worship spaace of their churches on Sunday mornings! I am not joking, recruiting for the army is bad enough, doing it in church is even worse, but doing it at the time of Divine Worship is beyond the Pale!

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

Well, the good thing about the Archbishop’s maladroit comments, however misquoted he may have been, is that he has clearly enraged the conservatives in America now. Over on Stand Firm, they’re all calling for his head, which I think is good news for us. There’s not much point in the Archbishop bending over backwards to please only the group that hates him, is there? Or does Rowanic self-immolative masochism stretch that far, I wonder?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 4:06pm GMT

DO remember he is still a Welshman !