Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s for his opposition to racial Apartheid. Now he’s taking a stand on the selective accountability for war crimes.
His remarks come at a time when war hawks are ginning up another case for war, this time with Iran. As long as there is no accountability, we can expect more of the same.
Cross posted from Common Dreams
Calling out the international community to stand up and recognize the glaring hypocrisy of sending various African and Asian leaders of relatively weak nations to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial for their crimes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has called for the former leaders of Great Britain and the United States, Tony Blair and George W. Bush, to be brought before The Hague to stand trial for the illegal invasion of Iraq.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls for both Tony Blair and George W. Bush to be brought before The Hague to stand trial for the illegal invasion of Iraq.
“The immorality of the United States and Great Britain’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003,” Tutu wrote in an exclusive for the Observer this weekend, was “premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction,” and instead of bring peace, democracy, or harmony to the region, “has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.”
Tutu’s missive was delivered following his refusal to attend a global leadership summit in South Africa last week after learning that the former Prime Minister Tony Blair would be in attendance.
“My appeal to Mr Blair is not to talk about leadership, but to demonstrate it,” Tutu said.
Tutu recalls urging — along with millions of other global citizens who mounted the largest global protests in human history — the US and Britain to give UN inspectors more time to determine the veracity of their claims about Iraq’s weapons stockpiles, but was told by then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that “there was too much risk and the president [George W. Bush] would not postpone any longer.”
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.
In a “consistent world,” writes Tutu, and based on the level of destruction caused by the US and its willing allies, “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.”
As The Guardian explains, the ICC, located in the Netherlands, “hears cases on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. To date, 16 cases have been brought before the court but only one, that of Thomas Lubanga, a rebel leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been completed. He was sentenced earlier this year to 14 years’ imprisonment for his part in war crimes in his home country.”
Tutu met the expected Blair rebuttal about the good that was done in ridding the world of Saddam Hussein by again pointing to the inherent responsibilities of wielding the unmatched power that both Blair and Bush were entrusted with by their people.
“Leadership and morality are indivisible,” he wrote. “Good leaders are the custodians of morality. The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level.”
“If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without an acknowledgement or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children?”