Archbishop Tutu calls for 'lying' Blair and Bush to face trial in Hague Criminal Court over Iraq war
Dennis Martink Whitehall Correspondent
- Nobel Peace Prize winner accuses Tony Blair and George W. Bush of lying about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction
- 'They fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies,' he says
- Archbishop claims ousting Saddam created backdrop for Syrian civil war
- 'The old canard we lied about intelligence is completely wrong', says Blair
Archbishop Desmond Tuttu: He claims Blair and Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has demanded that Tony Blair be tried in The Hague over the invasion of Iraq.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner accused the former Prime Minister of lying about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and said that the 2003 war had left the world more destabilised and divided than ‘any other conflict in history’.
He said Mr Blair should be subjected to a trial at the International Criminal Court, along with former US president George W. Bush.
The archbishop claimed that the US and UK-led military operation to oust Saddam created the backdrop for the civil war in Syria and a possible wider Middle East conflict involving Iran.
He said: ‘The then leaders of the United States and Great Britain 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 question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many people he massacred, the point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level.’
Calling for the pair to face justice in The Hague, he said different standards appeared to be set for prosecuting African leaders, and that the death toll during and after the Iraq conflict was sufficient evidence for them to face action.
Accused: George Bush and Tony Blair who said today that Archbishop Tutu was wrong about the Iraq war
‘On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible 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,’ he said.
Archbishop Tutu, a long-time critic of the Iraq war, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for speaking out against apartheid in his native South Africa.
Last week he pulled out of a South African conference on leadership because Mr Blair was attending.
In response to the archbishop’s remarks, Mr Blair said that it was right to get rid of Saddam because of the human rights abuses he perpetrated, and he argued that Iraq was now a better place.
He said: ‘I have a great respect for Archbishop Tutu’s fight against apartheid – where we were on the same side of the argument – but to repeat the old canard that we lied about the intelligence is completely wrong, as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown.
Image of despair: Iraqis outside a morgue mourn the family victims of a bomb attack in Baghdad which killed 47 people
‘And to say the fact that Saddam massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre.’
He added: ‘I would also point out that despite the problems, Iraq today has an economy three times or more in size with child mortality rate cut by a third of what it was. And with investment hugely increased in places such as Basra.’
Yesterday, former Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell declined to back Archbishop Tutu’s call for a Hague trial.
He said: ‘When any question of crime is discussed in any jurisdiction, you have to ask yourself whether an act was committed and whether that act was committed with criminal intent.
'Although I believe that George W Bush and Tony Blair were wrong ... I don’t believe they did so with any malign intention.’