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RIP Nelson Mandela: what he said about US wars, George Bush and Tony Blair


R.I.P. Nelson Mandela 18 July 1918 − 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela, led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, to become the first black president after 27 years in prison. He died aged 95 on 5 December 2013.

Nelson Mandela on love and hate

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion," Mandela wrote in his memoir Long Walk to Freedom. "People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

Nelson Mandela on America and the Iraq war

Mandela was a very public opponent of the Iraq war. In 2003, as it become clear that George Bush and Tony Blair planned to ignore the United Nations, Mandela said:

"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."

Mandela attacked America for its record on human rights and for dropping atomic bombs on Japan in World War II.

"If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care."

Nelson Mandela on Tony Blair and the Iraq war

Nelson Mandela felt so betrayed by Tony Blair's decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq that he launched a tirade against him in a phone call to Peter Hain, who was a government minister. Hain said Mandela was "breathing fire" down the line in protest at the 2003 military action.

The trenchant criticisms were made in a formal call to the minister's office, not in a private capacity, and Blair was informed of what had been said.

"He rang me up when I was a Cabinet minister in 2003, after the invasion," he told the Press Association. "He said: 'A big mistake, Peter, a very big mistake. It is wrong. Why is Tony doing this after all his support for Africa? This will cause huge damage internationally.'

Hain added, "I had never heard Nelson Mandela so angry and frustrated. He clearly felt very, very strongly that the decision that the prime minister had taken – and that I as a member of the cabinet had been party to – was fundamentally wrong."

Free Nelson Mandela

In 1984 the Specials released Free Nelson Mandela. It became the international anthem for the campaign against his imprisonment on Robben Island by the apartheid South African government.

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela 18 July 1918 − 5 December 2013

Tags: tony-blair