Yasemin Beykont: Tony Blair and Apology in Politics (Bilgi University, Istanbul)

In our Comparative Politics lesson in Istanbul Bilgi University Professor Mohammad Mahallati gave us a lecture about ethics of war, forgiveness and friendship. It was a great, inspirational lecture that taught us lots of things about religion’s role in making of war, standard paradigms like democracy, human rights and free market’s role in peacemaking etc.

First of all we talked about ethics of war which limits the scope of war. And we started the subject with Yaşar Kemal’s words which also printed on one of our school building’s wall. ““Those who read my books may not become murderers as they will oppose all war. Let them be against somebody’s abusing the other as nobody can insult the other and nobody will assimilate nobody. Let them make it impossible for the sates and governments craving for assimilation. Those who read my books should know that those who destroy a culture will have their own culture and kindness fleeting away from them.” Then we mentioned Robert Sapolsky who is a biologist and his talk in Foreign Affair: “War is not in our blood and it is a cultural reflection.” Actually, I also agree with him cause cultures and religion have a reflection on it as we talked in class. However, it is absolutely true that war is inevitable and it makes states. The previous class of Professor Mahallati, we touched on this subject with our lecturer Yaprak Gürsoy that “War makes states, and states make wars”.

Secondly and, in my opinion, the most effective topic of the lesson was the ethics of forgiveness. I found it really effective because the difficulty of saying “I’m sorry” and post effects of this sentence between states. The most hard thing is forgive and also forget but also apologizing and forgiving is also really difficult. Both in relationship between individuals and relationship between states in international level. Today, 25th of October, I saw a news about Tony Blair in CNN. I searched about it and found lots of headlines. Most explanatory one was in Daily Mail Online. The headline was “‘I’m sorry’: Historic moment Tony Blair FINALLY apologises for Iraq War and admits in TV interview the conflict caused the rise of ISIS”. I thought that this is a really good example of ethics of forgiveness. After the headline the report continues with these words: “Tony Blair has finally said sorry for the Iraq War – and admitted he could be partly to blame for the rise of Islamic State. The extraordinary confession by the former Prime Minister comes after 12 years in which he refused to apologize for the conflict.” Professor Mahallati gave us an example like this about Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s apologize looks like this.

Finally, ethics of friendship was the most entertaining part of the lecture. It is a new concept in politics. It contains justice and also beyond justice. Aristotle have a say like: “When men are friends they have no need of justice while when they are just they need friendship as well.” Which also explains the importance of the beyond justice. Also Charles Darwin , the father of the scientific theory of evolution, had said that “A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.” As we can remember Robert Sapolsky’s words about that war is not in our blood and add Darwin’s saying with it and summarize that war is not our nature, the friendship is. Although the concept of friendship is a new trend is politics, we should concern that it is really important for the international relations between states those days. Then we conclude the topic with the Friendship Day in Oberlin which celebrates in April 8th. Professor Mahallati showed us some pictures of celebrations and a t-shirt which has got lots of friendship words from another languages.

I am so glad to had a lecture by Professor Mohammad Mahallati because it was a good opportunity to learn the new concepts like ethics of forgiveness and friendship from a lecturer who is from another culture. Different cultures always interested me and because I study comperative politics this semester, this lecture taught me lots of things with a different perspective. And I hope I would remunerate this opportunity with this essay.