Bertone trumpets “prophecy” about Iraq war

This is the sort of thing that I was talking about yesterday in commenting on Amy’s blog post. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the incoming head of the Vatican Secretariat of State, said the situation in Iraq shows warnings from Rome about the war were “prophetic”. In what way were they “prophetic”? Doesn’t the choice of words strike you as if the cardinal is saying that it was God Himself warning against the war, which would mean that this wasn’t a matter of prudential judgment, but a matter of doctrine and obedience.

In addition, such after the fact claims assume that the world—and especially Iraq—would have been better off were Saddam still in power. If we hadn’t had the Iraq war, would al Qaeda have been more likely or less likely to be able to carry out 9/11 and “8/10” style terror attacks? What would all those now-dead terrorists (i.e. “foreign insurgents in Iraq”) be doing today? Certainly Libya would not have given up its WMD program like it did.

I think in the cardinal’s case, it’s a bit early to declare a victory for “prophecy” about Iraq. Some critics of World War II observing Germany and Japan in 1948 made similar declarations of vindication for the “prophecies” too because of the state of those countries. Come back in 2033 and tell me how we’re doing then.

This isn’t to say that I disagree with the cardinal’s other remarks, especially those regarding the pressure that international institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund put on countries to compromise their values.

“Some technocrats, especially those of multinationals, the World Bank and the (International) Monetary Fund, have imposed unacceptable conditions on the poor populations, like forced sterilization and obligatory closing of Catholic schools,” he said.

On the whole, I think Cardinal Bertone will be a large improvement in that office. He’s just giving evidence of that condition that bothers Amy, and me, and others about certain pronouncements by Vatican officials.

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