I think we should pay a swift return visit to the United Deities today. The assembled gods up in heaven do not often bother to deal with British affairs, but just at the moment we are privileged to be on their agenda. So let us eavesdrop on the minutes of the latest session.
1. The chairgod said there had been an interesting addition to the agenda under Any Other Divine Business, namely, a challenge made to the gods by the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair.
2. As those present would know, there had recently been an invasion of the ancient country of Iraq by an American army, with help from the British, which had been very controversial on Earth.
3. When asked if the invasion was justified, Mr Blair had said recently that God would be the judge of that.
4. The chairgod wanted to know if any god present had in fact agreed to be the judge of that, and if so, whether he had come to a decision yet. Perhaps Mr Blair might wish to know the judgement while he was still alive. (Laughter)
5. The Anglican God said he was somewhat startled to find anyone suggesting that gods should judge wars. Was it really up to the gods to decide whether a war had been successful or not?
6. The chairgod said the question was not whether it had been successful or not, but whether it was right or wrong.
7. Same thing, said Zeus.
8. The Sumerian god Enlil asked here if he might make a contribution. He had not spoken at one of these meetings before, but as he was one of the earliest gods in charge of Iraq, or Mesopotamia, as it used to be called in his day, he felt he should make a contribution.
9. The chairgod said that everyone would be delighted to hear from him.
10. Enlil said that right from the earliest days, Mesopotamia had been subject to invasions, wars, battles and mighty struggles. The Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Medes, all had come and gone, looting and killing. Not to mention Alexander the Great. And the Caliphs. And ...
11. The chairgod asked if he had a point to make.
12. That was the point, said Enlil. There always had been wars. There were always going to be wars. Right or wrong did not come into it. He did not know why this Blair fellow wanted to be justified. The only good reasons for declaring a war were to conquer territory or take plunder or defeat a neighbour before he defeated you. And the only justification for a war was winning it.
13. The Anglican God said none of those reasons applied in Mr Blair's case. Britain was nowhere near Iraq, which represented no threat. There was no plunder except oil. And far from conquering the territory, the idea of the invasion was to give the country back to the inhabitants.
14. Then the whole war was madness, said Enlil. If Blair wanted to be judged by a god, then he, Enlil, was happy to do so and judge that this was the maddest war he had ever come across.
15. Well, said the chairgod, it was not quite as simple as that. It was not actually Mr Blair who had invaded Iraq. He was only the junior partner to the mighty US army, though Blair did in truth often talk as if he and he alone had decided on and engineered the invasion, and as if he himself had conquered the country.
16. Then, said Enlil, he was even more bonkers than had at first appeared.
17. The Anglican God said that in all fairness to Mr Blair ...
18. Yes? Said the chairgod.
19. Sorry, said the Anglican God. He could not think of any sensible way of completing that sentence.
20. There was a suggestion, said the chairgod, that Mr Blair had prayed to God for guidance before the war. Had any god present in fact received a prayer from Mr Blair?
21. The Anglican God said that he may have done, but his prayer backlog was now up to five years behind schedule, and he would not be getting the prayer through just yet.
...more from the gods soon.Reuse content