Desmond Tutu is one of the more deserving Nobel Peace Prize laureates. Certainly, he deserved the prize more than power-mad sicko Henry Kissinger or slick hope-raiser Barack Obama.
Throughout his decades as a priest in the Anglican Church, Tutu fought the good fight against South Africa’s immoral apartheid system. As an Archbishop he won worldwide attention for the cause of “a democratic and just society without racial divisions” in his native country.
He has a lot of credibility, and he’s not afraid to use it and speak out when he sees something very wrong in the world. Which is precisely what he has done today with an op-ed piece in The Observer.
Tutu explains why he could not in good conscience participate in a “leadership summit” that includes former British prime minister Tony Blair, a man whose record includes leading the U.K. into invading Iraq in 2003 with the United States.
Tutu says Blair and George Bush fabricated reasons for the invasion and, as a result, created horrendously destructive rifts in the world community.
The retired cleric contends that in a just world Blair and Bush would be prosecuted in the Hague.
On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers’ circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction … but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?
The cost of the decision to rid Iraq of its by-all-accounts despotic and murderous leader has been staggering, beginning in Iraq itself. Last year, an average of 6.5 people died there each day in suicide attacks and vehicle bombs, according to the Iraqi Body Count project. More than 110,000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had been killed and more than 32,000 wounded.
On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague.
In response, Blair has repeated his assertion that Iraq had be invaded because Sadam Hussein had to be toppled for Iraqis’ own good. It’s something Blair has said ad nauseum in desperate attempts to rationalize his and Bush’s destabilization of the United Nations and buggering of international law. Less than a year after the invasion, Blair put it this way: “It may well be that under international law as presently constituted a regime can systematically brutalise and oppress its own people and there is nothing anyone can do….This may be the law, but should it be?”
London-based journalist Gwynne Dyer, in a 2004 column, had a succinct answer to Blair’s question: You’re wrong, Mr. Blair. It’s crucial for all of us that countries abide by the UN principles established in 1945 to avoid a catastrophic World War III.
The basic UN rule is that you can no longer legally attack another country, and no excuses are accepted. The fact that their ancestors stole some of your country’s territory a hundred years ago doesn’t justify it, nor does a suspicion that they are planning to attack you, nor even the fact that their government wickedly oppresses its own people. Allow those exceptions, and clever lawyers will find a way to argue that every aggression is legal. So the law says no exceptions. …
Mr Blair isn’t really trying to change the basic UN law; he’s just trying to justify why he broke it last year by invading Iraq. … [T]he law is there for a reason, and it is still a good reason.
Blair and Bush – and their supporters – should own up to the wrongness of what they did in 2003.