The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has said that by invading Iraq the British and American governments have made life more difficult for Christians in the Middle East. In particular, large numbers of Christian refugees are leaving Iraq in fear for their lives. But it's not the Coalition forces whom they fear. The alleged responsibility of the British and Americans is indirect. What is it?
Islamists say that Christians are crusaders trying to dominate the Middle East along with the American and British governments. Hence the Islamists' campaign of terrorism against them is not unprovoked religious persecution and mass murder but simple self-defence. That the Islamists made that argument is not news. But why has Rowan Williams accepted it?
On the purely factual level he is simply wrong. For example, in Sudan, Islamists have been trying to exterminate Sudanese Christians on and off since 1955. The American government can't have prompted this campaign of genocide by invading Iraq. And, as Daniel Pipes points out, Christians have been disappearing from Iraq and most other countries in the region for several decades.Williams blames the American and British governments because he has a cartoonish view of the world in which foreign people are only ever poor or violent because the rich Western countries have persecuted them. He doesn't treat Islamists in the Middle East as human beings, responsible for their actions, but only as ciphers, their deeply held convictions mere reflexes, determined by the decisions of Westerners. That's why he doesn't say that the Islamists are to blame for murdering and persecuting people, and instead blames the American and British governments who are trying to prevent the Islamists from doing that.
In doing so, he isn't just slandering the West, he is also doing a disservice to the Islamists by not expecting them to act as civilised human beings. And by publicly transferring responsibility for their crimes specifically to those who are trying to stop them, he is collaborating with them against their victims, including many Christians. Williams may be well-intentioned, but his moral relativism can only make the terrible situation in the Middle East worse.