Religion and the British Prime Ministers

Whereas the religious commitments of American presidents rarely go unnoticed, comparatively little attention has been paid to the faith (or lack thereof) of the prime ministers of Great Britain. Mark Vickers seeks to change that in his recent book God in Number 10. Calling the book, “well-researched, well-written, and unflaggingly lively,” Edward Short writes in his review:

Arthur Balfour presents a good case study of a prime minister who desperately wished to believe but somehow could never swing it. Vickers quotes Caroline Jebb, the American wife of the Cambridge don, who saw only “sadness” in the prime minister’s faith—arising, as she said, “from the fact that the spirit of the age prevents him, a naturally religious man, from being religious except on the humanitarian side.”

Churchill . . . was also plagued with skepticism, though Vickers reveals what few may know: that the question that most consumed Churchill in his old age was whether there was any truth to the Christian faith.

For Vickers, not even a practical atheist is an uncomplicated atheist. As for Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, Vickers treats both as sui generis, the one subscribing to an evangelicalism without charismatic fervor and the other subscribing to a Catholicism without any adherence to the Roman Church’s more controversial moral teachings.

Read more at City Journal

More about: Arthur Balfour, Margaret Thatcher, Religion and politics, United Kingdom, Winston Churchill

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy