- Politics and Social Issues
Desmond Tutu calls for prosecution of Blair and Bush, startles The Observer
Desmond Tutu explains today in a letter to The Observer why he decided to boycott a conference he was invited to, and at which Tony Blair was invited (paid) to speak.
The war in Iraq, Tutu contends, has destabilized the whole region, and was undertaken on immoral grounds.
He then asks the question: How is it that Mugabe is sent to the criminal courts, while Blair is enjoying his fame on the speaking circuit?
Toby Helm is, on behalf of The Observer where he serves as political editor, startled by Tutu's call for prosecution, in a commentary published on the same day as Tutu's letter. Why so startled Toby?
The Old Canard of morality
Toby Helm leaves the last third of his commentary for Blair to defend his crimes.
"[...] to repeat the old canard that we lied about the intelligence is completely wrong as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown." — Tony Blair
Despite the poor defense, to leave this blatant lie uncontested is not worthy of a serious commentator. Yet, this is what the political editor of The Observer does.
Blair then moves his defense to the issue of morality:
"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." — Tony Blair
A humanitarian intervention in Iraq might have earned international consensus. Notwithstanding, it's not as if Saddam was massacring his people as US troops crossed the border from Kuwait.
It is true though that the Iraqis were suffering, much due to economic sanctions already imposed on them by the West (again on grounds of alleged weapons of mass destruction). With no access to foreign goods, the Iraqis were involuntarily made dependent on the despot Blair purportedly sought to free them from.
That makes the urgency, with which Bush and Blair rushed into Iraq to rid Saddam of his fictional means of mass destruction, even more curious.
The question cries out to be begged: May the leaders of Western states be tried and judged for their decisions to engage in a war of aggression?
"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." — Tony Blair
Apparently, if you can find moral, after-the-fact, justification, any means may be excused, even a universally recognized illegality. One could easily imagine ways to excuse almost any crime by this argument.
Desmon Tutu's main criticism, I believe, points to the curious way in which Western leaders get away with such excuses, while the leaders we despise, are sent to the Hague, for crimes of similar levels of atrociousness. Everyone is not, as it turns out, equal before the law.
The moral of this story seems to be that, if you have an agenda, you may, given that you are the leader of a powerful Western state, seek to implement it by any means available, as long as you can defend it on moral grounds.
The oil contracts awarded to Western oil companies post-2003 may give some clues to what the agenda really was. There seems to be a tight correlation between the countries that need intervention on humanitarian grounds, and its significance in matters of secure access to energy.
Why else would the US, as General Wesley Clark sums it up (YouTube video below), already in 2002 have plans to take out Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Iran, but refrain from intervening in numerous other countries where atrocities evidently take place (with or without our help).
Whatever the reason for going to war, the cost of removing Saddam Hussein from his throne was higher than Blair and Bush could possibly have imagined. That is why the war now, in so-called intellectual circles, is deemed a failure, not on humanitarian grounds, but with reference to the economical burden it represents to the countries who participated in it.
One should not need to praise Tutu, but he is one of few who point to the humanitarian disaster still building up in the region, and the alarming fact that the international (Western) community is growing to accept a policy of "pre-emptive strike" on behalf of corrupted governments with oily hands.