God's Politics

God's Politics


Chris LaTondresse: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister

posted by gp_intern

The resignation of British Prime Minister Tony Blair comes as no real surprise for those watching the soap opera of British politics over the past two years. Most thought it would come much sooner. This occasion provides an opportunity to assess his legacy over 20-plus years of public service, 10 of those as parliamentary leader.

Tony Blair leaves behind a reputation for aggressive political reform within the United Kingdom and effective statesmanship abroad – two lessons the United States could learn from the former superpower as we move ahead into the 21st century.

Domestically, Blair forcefully confronted the false choice between economic growth and compassionate governance by incentivizing corporate innovation in the social sector and demanding greater accountability from state-run public services.

In doing so, he offered a model for those looking to bridge the gap between the public and private sectors, promoting partnership rather than enmity – beginning with the moral questions of “What must be done?” and ending with the market questions of “How can we do it best?”

Acting with courage and ethical clarity in an era of staggering global poverty and vast economic inequality, Blair believed the ancient wisdom that “to whom much is given, much is required.”

To this end, he fought to forgive outstanding loans to developing nations and increased his country’s commitments to foreign aid – investments that provided millions with education, food relief, clean drinking water, and access to basic medical care.

Addressing the ever-present threat of international terrorism, Blair shrewdly recognized it for what it is: a symptomatic birth pang of globalization – the inevitable consequence of the three colliding forces of unprecedented individual empowerment, unprecedented financial growth, and unprecedented economic disparity.

As such, Blair led with the conviction that the Western world will never find true security until the rest of the world is given a chance to transcend their current circumstances. In other words, while hopelessness breeds resentment and violence, opportunity secures hope for the future.

While it’s sad to see him go (and perhaps even sadder to see his legacy blemished by the unresolved conflict in Iraq), the gentleman he’s selected to fill his shoes, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, brings an uncommon blend of conscience, talent, and experience to the table.

For the sake of a world where only rare politicians continue to lead with “. . . a curious mix of moral cause and strategic interest” – words spoken by the outgoing prime minister at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year – we hope Brown fills them well.

In the end, Tony Blair exits with an important admonition, benediction, and commission:

In 20 years, or sooner, there will be new powers, new constellations of authority, with strong intentions and powerful means of advancing them. What values will govern that new world? Will they be global values, commonly shared, or will the world revert to spheres of interest, to competing power-plays in which the lesser or struggling nations are the victims?

If the narrative we believe in – a world of tolerance, freedom, openness and justice for all – is to be credible, it has to be effective. The best answer to fear is always hope. But hope requires belief. And belief comes only from words turned into deeds. So take these issues: Africa, climate change, world trade.

Imagine over the coming months the world agrees and over the coming years, it acts. Think how attractive our story of the world’s progress would be. Then think of failure and who will weep and who will rejoice. Think of all of this. Then let us agree.
Then let us act.

Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

Chris LaTondresse is the special assistant to the CEO at Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(29)
post a comment
Mike Hayes

posted May 11, 2007 at 7:10 pm


Chris, What a hope-filled message… may this vision become reality… soon!



report abuse
 

jesse

posted May 11, 2007 at 7:14 pm


Addressing the ever-present threat of international terrorism, Blair shrewdly recognized it for what it is: a symptomatic birth pang of globalization – the inevitable consequence of the three colliding forces of unprecedented individual empowerment, unprecedented financial growth, and unprecedented economic disparity. –Actually, he also recognized it as a result of false, militant Islamic ideology.He said, “The Government has its role to play in this but, honestly, the Government itself is not going to defeat this. If we want to defeat the extremism, we have got to defeat its ideas and we have got to address the completely false sense of grievance against the West.” http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article1160986.ece



report abuse
 

Chris LaTondresse

posted May 11, 2007 at 7:55 pm


Jesse,You’re right. Tony Blair recognized the role Islamic fundamentalism has played in global terrorist activity, insofar as it has offered a violent counter-narrative to his vision of, “a world of tolerance, freedom, openness and justice for all” eloquently cast in his Davos address.In the same speech he said:But ours is not the only narrative competing for the world’s attention. There is another. It may be – is – based on a total perversion of Islam; but it has shown itself capable of playing cleverly on the injustice, poverty and alienation felt by many whose lifestyles are a world away from ours. We believe we are doing our best to confront the world’s problems and to lift the scourge from the backs of so many millions whose lives are blighted. He also notes that the spread of this brand of terroist ideology – the international expression of a localized worldview -is made possible the same forces of globalization that also contribue to economic growth and the increasing wealth gap.Without globalization the spread of of these ideologies would be far more difficult – if not impossible. We’re probably in agreement that the economic benefits of globalization outweigh its negative effects.But one of the clear consquences of globalization is that the dangerous worldview Blair rightly addresses spreads most virally among those left out of the economic equation – people who, by the way, represent close to 80% of the world’s population.It’s in this sense that international terrorism, “a symptomatic birth pang of globalization…” And Blair’s prescription is clear.



report abuse
 

l'etranger

posted May 11, 2007 at 8:08 pm


I think much of this is a fair assessment of Blair and his legacy (and much better than the scandalously nasty – and dishonest – accounts on e.g. the BBC) but there are a couple of points where one might take issue. His policy of introducing increased corporate involvement in public services has been largely unsuccessful – mainly because the corporations saw it as a license to print money – in schemes such as the private finance intiative all the risk went to the public purse and all the profits to the corporate sector. This is a complex policy/economic issue with not enough room to discuss here but it’s worth pointing the less optimistic view of his reforms. Also worth saying for readers not familiar with British politics that Tony Blair doesn’t select his successor. As a parliamentary system the leader of the largest party becomes prime minister. Blair is stepping down as party leader and the Labour party will elect a new leader who will become prime minister. You are right that it will almost certainly be Gordon Brown – who in many ways is a more impressive figure than Blair – and also someone driven by his Christian faith – he wrote the foreword for the UK release of God’s Politics.



report abuse
 

butch

posted May 11, 2007 at 8:21 pm


beginning with the moral questions of “What must be done?” and ending with the market questions of “How can we do it best?” I’m sorry but most of what I’ve found is left and right mud slinging except the moralizing leading to no agreement that answers the question “How can we do it best?”



report abuse
 

Tony Dickinson

posted May 11, 2007 at 10:55 pm


L’etranger is right about our quaint British system for appointing PMs. He omits to mention that Brown’s succession will (if it happens) be over the metaphorical dead bodies of many of those close to Blair – and possibly of Blair himself. Frankly, it’s a relief that he’s finally going. He may be the blue-eyed boy on your side of the pond. Here, despite his many achievements, he has forfeited almost all the trust which was invested in him ten years ago and made Britain a more difficult nation to govern.



report abuse
 

markbp

posted May 11, 2007 at 11:00 pm


Sorry, Chris, but, having lived in Britain for most of the Blair years, I cannot agree with your positive assessment of the man. To me he is someone who talked about the big issues – global warming, world poverty, AIDS – but actually _did_ precious little. He is an extremely talented actor – the way he portrays sincerity had a lot of us fooled for a long time – but as a statesman of conscience I do not rank him. The Blair years have seen some increase in material prosperity in Britain, but they have also seen inequalities continue to grow, civil liberties restricted, and increasingly harsh and xenophobic policies towards asylum seekers. And then, of course, there was Iraq. Either Blair displayed the sort of negligence of thought that renders any leader unreliable, or else he lied. Repeatedly. Again and again and again. He took Britain into an illegal war against the wishes of the majority of its citizens, and justified it with dossiers full of red herrings, half-truths and suppositions, which his friends in the media then used to engender paranoia in the more suggestible part of the population. When a BBC journalist pointed to irregularities in the decision-making process, the result was a witch hunt for his informant (a weapons inspector) who subsequently committed suicide, followed by the journalist and the BBC’s director general being bullied into resignation. [The substantive information - if not the detail - given by the journalist was later seen to be accurate.] So I have stopped listening to what Blair says – instead I watch what he does. I think it is naive in the extreme to do otherwise. When he announced his departure, I breathed a sigh of relief – just as I did in 1989 when Margaret Thatcher resigned. I don’t know if Gordon Brown will be any better – but at least he’s not such a good actor, so he may not try to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes quite so much. And he does appear to genuinely care about world poverty (he has worked for debt remission and increased the British aid budget a bit, though I’m not aware of him having done anything to eliminate the injustices inherent in the world trade system). And he’s finally realised in the last year or so that the consequences of doing nothing to mitigate global warming would be disastrous. Please don’t be fooled by the rhetoric of politicians – whatever their ideology. Tony Blair might well at some level care about poverty in Africa, and climate change, and unjust trade. But not enough to do anything about it when he had the chance. Mark (British citizen, Canadian resident)



report abuse
 

Canucklehead

posted May 12, 2007 at 2:03 am


so, Mark, a word or two on Stephen Harper?



report abuse
 

Ted Voth Jr

posted May 12, 2007 at 4:44 am


This is like totally ignoring the damage Dick Nixon did and only remembering that ‘he opened China’. I’m sorry, but Blair’s fawning relationship with Geo W Bush and its disastrous effects are far too damning to be ignored as you have



report abuse
 

markbp

posted May 12, 2007 at 8:15 am


Canucklehead: so, Mark, a word or two on Stephen Harper? Don’t tempt me – some words are best left unsaid… Mark



report abuse
 

HASH(0x11843f4c)

posted May 12, 2007 at 8:46 am


Blair is a bloody Killer. A mass murderer. A terrorist. There are half a million dead Iraquis who posed no threat to the US or GB to prove it. He hitched his wagon to the nastiest crew of Greedmongers and Warmongers on the planet. Watch how he cashes in on his associations. This is the worst piffle ever published by Sojourners.



report abuse
 

Carl Copas

posted May 12, 2007 at 5:31 pm


I’ve never shared the U.S. media’s and public’s infatuation with Tony Blair. Certainly he has been a faithful American lapdog. Bush and co. must hate to see him go.



report abuse
 

Carl Copas

posted May 12, 2007 at 5:35 pm


Markbp and Canucklehead, This past week I asked a college history class that I teach, full of college juniors and seniors, two questions: 1) What is the capital of Canada? only about 25% answered correctly. 2) Who is the PM of Canada? No one, answered correctly, even tho there are a few students in the class who follow foreign affairs somewhat closely. One person said Mulroney. At least no one went back to Trudeau.



report abuse
 

canucklehead

posted May 12, 2007 at 10:42 pm


That’s very interesting. Last time Stephen Harper was in Washington, W referred to him as “Steve.” It’s now become a term of derision in Canada to refer to our Prime Minister as “Steve.”



report abuse
 

canucklehead

posted May 12, 2007 at 10:44 pm


Further, Carl. Justin Trudeau, Pierre’s firstborn, recently won the Liberal nomination in a suburban Montreal riding to run in the next election which, as you know, could come anytime the combined opposition decides to pull the plug on the current Harper minority gov’t.



report abuse
 

markbp

posted May 13, 2007 at 1:13 am


Carl: Certainly he has been a faithful American lapdog. Bush and co. must hate to see him go. I’m sure they are. He was by far the most effective propagandist for their assault on the Iraqi people. But so would a Clinton administration hate to see him go. His stance of “standing shoulder to shoulder” (I find a different bodily-contact metaphor rather more pertinent, but it’s not one I can repeat here) wasn’t dependent on who was in charge in Washington – the object, I think, was to ensure Britain got the perks owing to the global bully’s principal coat-holder. Will Gordon Brown be any different? Well, maybe – I expect a Brown foreign policy to be based on trying to reclaim a degree of independence for Britain by playing off the US and the EU against each other. Whether he can succeed will depend on how much respect other world leaders have for him – probably quite a lot in Europe, where intellect is respected, but maybe not so much in the US. Mark



report abuse
 

markbp

posted May 13, 2007 at 1:19 am


Re Carl’s college history class: Any thoughts as to why your students are so ignorant of their country’s neighbour? Is it the shallow coverage of international affairs in the US media? Is there a culture of isolationism where you are? Is it the natural tendency of the powerful to think of everyone else as non-persons? (This happened in the British empire too) Or do you have another explanation? Mark



report abuse
 

Don

posted May 13, 2007 at 2:32 am


Mark: I can’t speak for Carl or his students, but in my experience, US students are dismally ignorant of geography and history in general. Possible reasons for their ignorance may include all the ones you named. I remember several years ago I was in the barber shop while a geography professor was having his hair cut. He was complaining about a quiz he had given to incoming freshmen. He had given them a map of the world with an outline of the continents and asked them to name them. Not only couldn’t they distinguish North America from Asia, they didn’t know where the land was and where the water was. Then he gave them an outline map of the United States. The only state they could identify with any consistency was Florida. They couldn’t even locate Ohio, and they were living in Ohio. So their ignorance wasn’t limited to international affairs. I don’t know whether things are better now or not, but during my first class session in introductory composition, I usually begin with a brief history of the English language. One historical event that had significant impact on the history of the language was the Norman invasion. But when I ask students what happened in 1066 (and that’s usually the way I ask the question), virtually none of them have any idea. I have to admit I didn’t know the name of the current PM of Canada. But I do know the name of the capital. And I even know the name of their hockey team, and the fact that they’re in the final Eastern division playoff round. Go Senators! Later,



report abuse
 

canucklehead

posted May 13, 2007 at 2:42 am


We’ve always compared our rel’nship w/ the U.S. to that of a mouse sleeping with an elephant.



report abuse
 

Sarasotakid

posted May 13, 2007 at 3:50 am


Well at least the mouse has some decent social policies like national healthcare and enough brains not to go to Iraq!



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted May 13, 2007 at 6:19 pm


“1) What is the capital of Canada? only about 25% answered correctly.” What? Everyone know it’s Toronto! Seriously, though, most Americans don’t know the capital of Michigan. We teach this information in our schools, but there is no cohesive curriculum at a national, or even a state level, that builds upon and incorporates this knowledge.As for college students, we let everyone go to college in this country, so you’ll see just as much ignorance there as you will with the general populace.



report abuse
 

Carl Copas

posted May 14, 2007 at 11:19 pm


Mark, Americans are typically very provincial.Lots of reasons for that but I think one reason is the geographical size (you can live somewhere in the American heartland and rarely encounter a foreigner) combined with national economic and military power (because U.S. is top dog I don’t have to bother with folk from other countries). I live and teach in northern California, north of Sacramento. A very rural area, sometimes referred to as “California’s Appalachia.” So cosmopolitanism is hardly a feature of the local social landscape. My course is on the history of U.S. foreign relations, ironically. I used student ignorance of Canada as an object lesson in American isolationism and provincialism.



report abuse
 

Don

posted May 15, 2007 at 2:24 am


I don’t feel so bad. Earlier here I admitted that I didn’t know the name of Canada’s PM. Well, yesterday at church I asked a seminarian who has been helping out at our congregation for the past year of her studies. She grew up in Ontario. She didn’t know either. The last PM she definitely remembered was Jean Chretien. I don’t think she remembered Paul Martin. So maybe the problem isn’t simply American isolationism. It may also be that the local media are more interested in covering the Ohio State Buckeyes than international news. It may be a combination of factors. I don’t know. I try to keep up with these things, and I missed it too. Peace,



report abuse
 

canucklehead

posted May 15, 2007 at 2:44 am


Don, we western Canadians would object stringently to an Ontarian being used as any kind of template on what constitutes a “real Canadian.” Heck, Lake Superior once dried up and nobody in Toronto knew anything about it at all. :) That being said in jest, it is a very real possibility that part of the reason your friend doesn’t know about Stephen Harper is b/c, altho he was born and raised in Ontario, he’s made his name as a scholar and a politician out in Alberta where I live – which, in the eyes of most Ontarians, (not w/o good reason, I might add) is considered Redneck Central. Sometimes the post offices get Alberta (AB) and Alabama (AL) mixed up which prompts quips like “not that there’s really any difference.” Stephen Harper now leads the Conservative Party of Canada which is the remains of the old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada which Brian Mulroney destroyed altho his successor, Kim Campbell, (in office only 3 months b4 Chretien punted her) is often mistakenly “credited” w/ reducing the PCs to 2 seats in Parliament. Harper was part of the brain trust behind the Reform Party that began in western Canada (their first slogan was The West Wants In!)which then morphed into the Canadian Alliance and then gathered up the ashes of the PCs to form the Conservative Party of Canada. Central/Eastern Cdns would go to great pains to point out that the current Conservative Party of Canada (which presently forms the minority gov’t) is NOT AT ALL the once regal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada as it’s been taken over by a bunch of hayseeds from Western Canada.



report abuse
 

Don

posted May 15, 2007 at 3:51 am


Redneck Central? I seem to remember that Neil Young raved (musically) about Alberta once. The only parts of Canada I’ve ever visited are in Ontario, so I guess that means I’ve never *really* been to Canada. Have a good evening,



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted May 15, 2007 at 4:55 am


“Lots of reasons for that but I think one reason is the geographical size (you can live somewhere in the American heartland and rarely encounter a foreigner) combined with national economic and military power (because U.S. is top dog I don’t have to bother with folk from other countries).” I think I’ve shared this before, but when I was in Australia, my dorm-mates noted that they had to learn OUR state capitals as part of their curriculum. I pointed out to them that they likely could not name many of the nations capitals. Regardless of whether you have a positive view or a negative view of our country, what we do has a major impact on the world.The same can’t be said for Australia, though I do love me some John Howard.



report abuse
 

HASH(0x11b72b90)

posted May 15, 2007 at 5:58 am


“Redneck Central? I seem to remember that Neil Young raved (musically) about Alberta once.” Don You’re dating yourself there! Neil used to wander out here when he was stoned and derive inspiration from gazing at the Rockies. Interestingly, part of the reason central/Eastern Canada looks down its nose at us Westerners is b/c we’re considered so American. Alberta is the heart and soul of Canada’s oilpatch and, accordingly, b/c of the Bush admin’s connection with Big Oil, we’re also considered to all be W fans. Calgary (where I live) is a sister-city to Houston. There are more Americans living in Calgary than any other city in Canada altho our population is only 1/4 or 1/3 that of Toronto.



report abuse
 

Alicia

posted May 15, 2007 at 7:43 pm


I believe that history will judge George W. Bush harshly, and Tony Blair much more kindly.



report abuse
 

God's Politics Moderator

posted May 15, 2007 at 10:20 pm


“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) This message thread has been visited by a God’s Politics Blog moderator for the purpose of removing inappropriate posts. Click here for a detailed explanation of the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct: http://www.beliefnet.com/about/rules.asp which includes: Help us keep the conversation civil and respectful by reporting inappropriate posts to: community@staff.beliefnet.com 7



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting God's Politics. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:14:07am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Why I Work for Immigration Reform (by Patty Kupfer)
When I tell people that I work on immigration reform, they usually laugh or say, "way to pick an easy topic." Everyday it feels like there is more fear, more hate. Raids are picking up in Nevada, California, and New York. A number of senators who supported comprehensive reform only a few months ago

posted 12:30:52pm Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Audio: Jim Wallis on "Value Voters" on The Tavis Smiley Show
Last week Jim was on The Tavis Smiley Show and talked about how the changing political landscape will affect the upcoming '08 election. Jim and Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state, debated and discussed both the impact of "value voters" on the election and what those values entail. + Down

posted 10:11:56am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Verse of the Day: 'peace to the far and the near'
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss u

posted 9:35:01am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Daily News Digest (by Duane Shank)
the latest news on Mideast, Iran, Romney-Religious right, Blog action day, Turkey, SCHIP, Iran, Aids-Africa, India, Budget, Brownback-slavery apology, Canada, and selected op-eds. Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Blog action day. Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green

posted 9:31:25am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.