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Mandela on Iraq

Courageous leadership for global transformation

Nelson Mandela

It's a tragedy what is happening, what Bush is doing. All Bush wants is Iraqi oil. There is no doubt that the US is behaving badly. Why are they not seeking to confiscate weapons of mass destruction from their ally Israel? This is just an excuse to get Iraq's oil.

We have not had world wars in 57 years, and it is because of the United Nations. We should condemn both [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair and Bush and let them know in no uncertain terms that what they are doing is wrong. Other international countries like France and Russia must influence the United Nations to condemn what he [Bush] is doing.

Bush is now undermining the United Nations. He is acting outside it, notwithstanding the fact that the United Nations was the idea of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Both Bush, as well as Tony Blair, are undermining an idea which was sponsored by their predecessors. They do not care. Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations [Ghanaian Kofi Annan] is now a black man? They never did that when secretary-generals were white.

What is the lesson of them acting outside the United Nations? Are they saying any country which believes that they will not be able to get the support of the countries with a veto [in the United Nations] are entitled to go outside the United Nations and to ignore it? Or are they saying we, the United States, are the only superpower in the world now, [so] we can act as we like? Are they saying this is a lesson we should follow or are they saying 'we are special, what we do should not be done by anybody [else]?'

If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care for human beings. Fifty-seven years ago, when Japan was retreating on all fronts, they decided to drop the atom bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; killed a lot of innocent people, who are still suffering the effects of those bombs.

Those bombs were not aimed against the Japanese, they were aimed against the Soviet Union to say, 'look, this is the power that we have. If you dare oppose what we do, this is what is going to happen to you'. Because they are so arrogant, they decided to kill innocent people in Japan, who are still suffering from that.

Who are they, now, to pretend that they are the policemen of the world? To want to decide for the people in Iraq what they should do with their government and with their leadership?

If this is done by the United Nations, if the United Nations says that 'Saddam Hussein is not carrying out the resolutions of the United Nations, therefore we the United Nations are going to take action,' I will support that without reservation.

What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust. I am happy that the people of the world - especially those of the United States of America - are standing up and opposing their own president.

I hope that that opposition will one day make him understand that he has made the greatest mistake of his life in trying to bring about carnage and to police the world, without any authority of the international body. It is something we have to condemn without reservation.

I only hope that the people of the United States will make Bush aware that he has made a big mistake to want to surpass the global body, the United Nations, whose ideals are to bring peace and eradicate wars.

The people of the US should use their democracy to get rid of him. It is best for the US to use the ballot box and demonstrations to draw attention to the issue.

And the women at this forum are there to look into these things, to be bold with their leadership and to condemn what is wrong.

And finally, we have of course the question of globalisation in this country. As [the former South African High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and current CEO of South African Tourism] Cheryl Carolus has said, somebody who is saying he or she is not going to accept globalisation, is like saying I do not recognise winter, I am not going to put on clothing for winter!

She has put it very well, because what happens today in northern Europe has got an effect on our region the same day. Globalisation is already there, whether we like it or not.

And of course globalisation at the present moment favours the rich and the mighty. We have to fight that. It must favour all human beings, whether in Europe or in Africa. And I'm sure this is the task of this forum to make sure that such irregularities are rectified.

Thank you very much.


These are reported extracts from Nelson Mandela's address to the International Women's Forum meeting in Sandton, South Africa, on 30 January 2003.


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