In early 2001, George W. Bush, as the 43rd President of the United States, had his first encounter with top world leaders such as Tony Blair, then British prime minister. The political climate was chilly in the White House that day. In an awkward attempt at humor, President Bush said that the one thing the two had in common was Colgate toothpaste.
Later that year, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, both leaders would discover that Christian values, not a consumer product, was what they most deeply shared. In the intervening years, both men drew on their Christian convictions to respond to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and many other challenges.
Following the presidential election of Barack Obama, Christianity Today spoke with Blair and dozens of other leaders to assess the Bush presidency. We wanted to examine his legacy in four areas of particular concern to evangelicals: health-based foreign aid, domestic faith-based initiatives, judicial appointments, and the war in Iraq.
Several themes popped up consistently in our interviews: faith, freedom, values, and engagement. In the month after 9/11, Blair delivered a major speech to Labor Party leaders in which he invoked the biblical mandate to care for the oppressed: "The starving, the wretched, the dispossessed, the ignorant, those living in want and squalor, from the deserts of northern Africa to the slums of Gaza, to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan: they too are our cause." Blair called on the Western powers to steer the world toward democracy and compassionate concern.
Critics mocked Blair as "Bush's poodle." But Blair told CT that he has always considered his and Bush's views on the role of faith in foreign policy to be "essentially the same ...1