According to Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner and hero of the anti-apartheid struggle:
In response Tony Blair has made a robust defence of his actions:"The then leaders of the United States and Great Britain," Tutu argues, "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."
But it is Tutu's call for Blair and Bush to face justice in The Hague that is most startling. Claiming that different standards appear to be set for prosecuting African leaders and western ones, he says the death toll during and after the Iraq conflict is sufficient on its own for Blair and Bush to be tried at the ICC.
Tony Blair should face trial over Iraq war, says Desmond Tutu | Politics | The Observer"And to say that the fact that Saddam massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre. We have just had the memorials both of the Halabja massacre, where thousands of people were murdered in one day by Saddam's use of chemical weapons, and that of the Iran-Iraq war where casualties numbered up to a million including many killed by chemical weapons.
"In addition, his slaughter of his political opponents, the treatment of the Marsh Arabs and the systematic torture of his people make the case for removing him morally strong. But the basis of action was as stated at the time.
What does Tutu think should have been done about Saddam?
The WMD story was bogus - but we only know it was bogus because Iraq was invaded after all and no weapons were ever found.
But putting that aside - how else would Iraqis have a multi-party democracy today with a democratic constitution, a democratically elected Prime Minister and democratically elected President unless Saddam had been removed by two possible methods (a) a full scale military invasion or (b) by armed groups financed, trained and supplied by Arab or Western governments?
Does Tutu seriously believe Iraq would be better off today with Saddam Hussein still in power or possibly his sons Uday and Qusay in power today after their father's demise?
Would the people of Libya and Syria be inspired to overthrow their own odious regimes without the overthrow of Saddam Hussein?
Does not the current broad liberal support in many Western countries for the Arab Spring which aims to overthrow other odious dictatorships stem from an grudging acceptance that overthrowing Saddam was actually the right thing to do?
Supposing an openly totalitarian white South African fascist military junta has taken power and unleashed a campaign of genocide against blacks much like Saddam slaughtered thousands of Kurds would Tutu (presuming he was still alive and not gunned down) have supported military intervention?
Supposing the Americans and British fabricated evidence of WMD in order to justify the overthrow of the white dictatorship in South Africa and the result was a multi-party democracy with the majority black population in charge would Tutu have supported it?
In the case of Northern Ireland, many hardline republicans would have welcomed a military invasion of Northern Ireland to end the Stormont government and still howl at the Republic of Ireland for failing to intervene.
The regime of Saddam Hussein was surely infinitely worse than the horrible sectarian regime that did exist in the 1960s.
Yet many Irish socialists and republican hardliners claim that the republican armed struggle was justified yet the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was not?
Indeed in the streets of Dublin an estimated 100,000 people marched not in support of the Iraqi people and in support of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein but in opposition to any military action!
Millions more around the world - students, trade unionists, writers, intellectuals, activists and so forth also marched in opposition to the overthrow of a fascist dictator. These people would have been expect to supported overthrowing a genocidal fascist surely?
Desmond Tutu's wrongheaded position proves that many on the left - who should be champions of human rights and freedoms and have been in the past - have simply lost their way.