Blair: "God told me to go to war in Iraq."


LONDON (AFP) - Tony Blair triggered strong reactions from parents of soldiers killed in Iraq and the political opposition, after the British prime minister evoked God in his decision to go to war.

Details emerged Friday of Blair's interview on an ITV1 television talk show where he said God and history would judge his action in joining the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

"That decision has to be taken and has to be lived with, and in the end there is a judgment that -- well, I think if you have faith about these things then you realise that judgment is made by other people," Blair said in the interview with host Michael Parkinson which will air Saturday night.

Pressed to clarify what he meant, Blair, a devout Christian, replied: "If you believe in God, it's made by God as well."

The words did not sit well with Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in Basra in 2004, one of the 103 British soldiers to date to have lost their lives in the Iraqi conflict.

"How can he say he is a Christian?" said Gentle, a campaigner with Military Families Against the War.

"A good Christian wouldn't be for this war. I'm actually quite disgusted by the comments."

Reg Keys, the father of a dead soldier, accused Blair of "using God as a get-out for total strategic failure and I find it abhorrent."

His son Lance Corporal Tom Keys was one of six Royal Military policemen killed by an Iraqi mob in Majar al-Kabir in June 2003.

Keys, who stood against the prime minister in the last general election on an anti-war ticket, said Blair's remarks reminded him of US President George W. Bush who was quoted as saying last year that God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.

"God and religion have nothing to do with this war," Keys said.

That view was echoed by the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Britain's second opposition party, who said "going to war isn't just an act of faith."

It requires legal analysis and a close look at the consequences, and Blair's "prospectus for military action was flawed," Menzies Campbell said.

Other Liberal Democrats agreed that God should not be part of the equation.

"It is a bizarre and shocking revelation that the prime minister claims to have been guided by the supernatural in this matter, especially given the particular religious sensitivities in the Middle East," said Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat member of parliament from the Oxford area, who is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.

"We don't want Bush or Khomeini-type fundamentalism in our politics," he added.

Blair is seen by some as the most religious British premier since William Gladstone (1809-189, who gave up his vocation as a pastor to enter politics.

Blair's handlers, including his former communications chief Alastair Campbell, have reportedly tried to steer Blair away from references to God, including reputedly removing the phrase "God bless you" from Blair's television address on the outbreak of the Iraq war.

During last year's election campaign, BBC interviewer Jeremy Paxman asked Blair if he prayed with Bush.

Looking decidedly uncomfortable, Blair replied: "No, Jeremy, we don't pray together."

But questions of religion surround Blair. There is speculation he plans to convert from High Church Anglican to Catholicism after leaving office.

Blair's wife Cherie is a strong Catholic and he regularly attends Mass with her and their children at the prime minister's country residence in Chequers.

The Catholic priest of that parish, Timothy Russ, has revealed that Blair asked for advice on moving between the churches.

But Blair says he has no plans to convert and only attends Catholic services so the family can worship together.

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I have a real instinctive deep dislike for this sycophantic licker of bums. God save us from Jesus freaks. Blackleaf your closer than I am reach out and slap it in the head for me.
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RR1 Canada

blair has always struck my as a psychopath as well , i think he suffers from the ---we can do no wrong-- syndrome-- with or without god

and he is labour-- a mole no doubt
That reminds of what Steve Allen said after Pat Robertson claimed "God told me to run for President". Allen said, "that's funny - God told me not to vote for him".
perhaps you remember the saying during the height of the british empire

god is an englishman

i guess now its--- god tells englishmen what to do

hes holding that telecaster all wrong too
hes no clapton
wasnt HE supposed to be god at one time and
werent the beatles bigger than jesus as well
i detect a pattern here......
Well I have always like Blair in small doses. However this joan-of-arc "god hath willed it" thing is kind of insane.
I would assert that His Excellency Tony Blair , the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should not drag God into this issue; it hurt the credibility of His Excellency the Honourable George Bush , President of the United States to do so, and I would suggest that he can expect a similar compromise in terms of his support.

While one should of course stay true to one's own religious convictions, suggesting that the actions of a nation or a Kingdom should be based on the word of some higher power, whispering into one's ear, is highly suspect and would make me question the moral authority of any public officer to continue to represent one's nation.

The above styles were given in accordance with Deptartment of Canadian Heritage protocol.

(Revision) : Resolved a formatting exception.
I think not

he said God and history would judge his action in joining the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003

I don't see where God told him to do anything. All he said was that God will judge him. I see nothing wrong with this comment. Headlines sell, what do you expect.
Blair's oratory

As he affects me not at all politically - I can sit back and enjoy one of the foremost orators we have in the political arena today.

He makes others who speak English sound like uninterested dentists.

I wish more politicians patterned their communication skills after this man. I have yet to hear anything that he has not made clear to me - when I am absolutely devoid of anything in the way of knowledge about the U.K. and its government and parliamentary procedures - but he can speak to all of us.... royalty down to lowly me. And we can hear and understand.
We,re not listening to the same person.