Tuesday, September 04, 2012


Retired South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote a stunning op-ed piece this weekend. In it he explains why he cancelled an appearance at an international conference. He wouldn't be attending because former British Prime Minister Tony Blair would be there. Before you decide that is awfully petty on the part of the Archbishop, read what he has to say about Blair and former US President George W. Bush.

The immorality of the United States and Great Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.

Instead of recognising that the world we lived in, with increasingly sophisticated communications, transportations and weapons systems necessitated sophisticated leadership that would bring the global family together, the then-leaders of the US and UK fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us. ...

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.
[Emphasis added]

Of course, they won't. The US refused to sign on to the treaty creating the International Criminal Court. I suspect the UK did also. Both countries' leaders felt that would be transgressing on national sovereignty. That excuse might fly if either country seriously examined the behavior of their leaders and of the people carrying out the war and prosecuted them in a court of law, but neither country has done so. Instead, we in the US have been urged to "look forward, not backward." As a result, neither leader has faced the consequences of their actions. There has been no justice. And the wounds continue to fester.

At this point I should disclose that I consider Desmond Tutu a hero, a saint, if you will. I have heard him speak. I have dined with him and spoken with him, one-on-one. I love and respect this man and his wife deeply. Archbishop Tutu, unlike Barack Obama earned his Nobel Peace Prize by his actions in apartheid South Africa. He never gave up, he was relentless against the white regime which so horribly oppressed the black majority. But he also never changed his message. Victory would not come through violence, but through the non-violence espoused by Gandhi and by Jesus of Nazareth. In the end, he was right. I think Nelson Mandela, the other hero of South Africa would agree.

When the change came, the horrors the white regime visited on black citizens were not swept under the carpet, nor were there mass beheadings. Instead, the architects and their underlings were given a chance to go through a process known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There were consequences, yes. But there was also healing. Something we have been denied.

So, Archbishop Tutu, I commend your latest non-violent stance. We still have a lot to learn from you.

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Blogger Charles said...

One has to disagree with the claim that the Iraq invasion " has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history." Just in recent history, World War II has to go down as being far more destabilizing/polarizing.

Also, the Middle East and Afghanistan were highly unstable before the Iraq war, held together by tyranny and dictatorship. There was going to be upheaval. All that was unknown was the date and the nature of how it would happen.

I do think it's good for a Christian leader to confront Tony Blair or any other leader who claims to be a Christian and acts like a thug.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Shared Humanity said...

We are a nation of war criminals.

Since WWII, we have been responsible indirectly and/or directly for more war related deaths than any nation in the world.

5:03 PM  

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