On the eve of the fateful day on which the House of Commons were cajoled into committing British troops to the disastrous invasion of Iraq - on the basis of spurious claims in the infamous "sexed-up dodgy dossier", Archbishop Rowan Williams made a brilliant speech. In his lecture he drew on long historical analysis to demonstrate the disasters that have occurred even when "well-meaning" people commit to war with the best of intentions. His warning to Blair and Brown that this was not another Kosovo in which military action was overdue and would lead to personal glory was well made. The problem was that his speech was academic, his analysis rigorous, and his appeal winsome not aggressive. He has since gone on record as saying that his deepest regret is not more forcibly declaring his opposition to the invasion of Iraq.
This appears to be something which he is not going to repeat, judging by the comments he has made today, directed at hawks within the Bush administration whose sabres are rattling towards Damascus and Tehran. He said, "We do hear talk from some quarters of action against Syria, or against Iran", any such action, he said, would be "criminal, ignorant...and potentially murderous folly".
May these prophetic words be heard loudly and clearly.