Sunday, October 29, 2006
On Hubris, Political Leadership and the 'Messiah' Complex
'The intoxication of power in heads of government can be as great a menace to the quality of their leadership as are conventional illnesses.'
Having posted on Richard D. North's Mr Blair's Messiah Politics only a couple of days ago I picked up on this comment from someone most critics accuse of the very thing, about which -wearing his doctorly hat we all thought he'd forgotten how put on- he warns us now. He also warns of the tendency for such hubris to invoke on its side the support of He who allegedly resides above; as Blair said on his decision to go into Iraq:
If you have faith about these things, then you realise that judgement is made by other people. If you believe in God, it's made by God as well.'
Owen's argument is that both leaders allowed that 'intoxication of power' to blind them to the dangers of their chosen course of action and to those necessary and particular details on which success or failure in such risky enterprise depend. I'm no a medical expert, of course, but I happen to think that a more persuasive explanation of the Bush-Blair reaction to 9-11 was not hubris but good old fashioned shock and fear. I think they were paralysed by the horrific, demonic brilliance of bin Laden's airborne torpedoes and struck out blindly, reacting with irrational lack of care; hence the ill-advised, lemming-like invasion of Iraq. But here's an odd irony. On rereading North's book on Blair's 'Messiah complex', I note that this hoary old rightwing journo concludes with:
'It is worth restating that without all Mr Blair's nonsense and worse, we would not have deployed in Iraq...future generations may yet say this action alone made Tony Blair a great leader. What's more, they may even judge that all the damage he did was nothing compared to this great good'
I don't have the power of foresight but somehow I feel that on this aspect of Blair at least, Dr Owen will prove a more reliable authority.
To be fair to Owen, he didn't use the concept of the 'messiah complex'(that wqas Richard North), he was talking merely about hubris- something, I'd agree, he knows a lot about...
Links to this post: