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.This is how he started his explanation for his refusal to appear on a discussion panel with former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. He says that the lies of Bush and Blair have brought about some of the world's more dangerous instabilities; specifically in Syria and Iran.
The point was not about how evil Saddam Hussein was but the lies used to justify the invasion - two separate things. Tutu goes on:
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.See? No fan of Saddam. Then a rhetorical question:
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.
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?In response Blair attempts to shift the focus:
Blair replied, in an interview in Johannesburg this week, removing Saddam Hussein from power was justified because of his atrocities, including killing thousands of Kurds in Halabja with poison gas, using chemical weapons against Iran, persecuting the Marsh Arabs and denying most Muslims (the Shia) the right to worship the way they want to.He tries and "ends justify the means" argument here, too:
He acknowledged that in 2003 he and US President George Bush had not used that argument to justify the invasion of Iran, but had done so on the grounds of Saddam’s suspected possession of nuclear weapons - which were never found.
But since Tutu was raising a moral argument, he was replying with one, he said.
Turning more introspective (and personal) Blair reflected on his own experience as a government head and said that he had learned – perhaps the hard way – that the essence of democratic government is the making of hard choices. Put in terms of today’s issues, for example, what should be done about Syria’s civil conflict or the conundrum of Iran? He added that with respect to Iraq back in 2003, while the proximate cause of the invasion was those elusive WMD (“oh well”, you could almost hear him sigh), the irreducible fact remained Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who had poison gassed the Kurds and violently repressed the rest of the country until he was overthrown. What, ultimately, is wrong with that result?But Blair didn't think they were lying. From the AP:
“To repeat the old canard that we lied about the intelligence is completely wrong as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown,” Blair said. “And to say that the fact that Saddam (deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein) massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre.”Which, again isn't what Tutu is charging. It's not about Saddam's well documented atrocities, it's about the immorality of two democratically elected leader who lied to justify an invasion.
And lying they did. From the Senate Intelligence Committee:
The Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, and a bipartisan majority of the Committee (10-5), today unveiled the final two sections of its Phase II report on prewar intelligence. The first report details Administration prewar statements that, on numerous occasions, misrepresented the intelligence and the threat from Iraq. The second report details inappropriate, sensitive intelligence activities conducted by the DoD’s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department.Now it's less of a mystery to me why Bush didn't speak in Tampa.
“Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,” Rockefeller said. “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”