On Thursday 28 January, former President Nelson Mandela talked for billions of people around the world when he strongly criticised US and British policy toward Iraq in a speech delivered to the International Women's Forum meeting in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. The theme of the speech was quite apt: "Courageous leadership for global transformation". And Mandela did not disappoint. Here are excerpts:
"It is a tragedy what is happening, what Bush is doing. All Bush wants is Iraqi oil. There is no doubt that the US is behaving badly. Why are they not seeking to confiscate weapons of mass destruction from their ally Israel? This is just an excuse to get Iraq's oil.
We have not had world wars in 57 years, and it is because of the United Nations. We should condemn both Blair and Bush and let them know in no uncertain terms that what they are doing is wrong. Other countries like France and Russia must influence the United Nations to condemn what he [Bush] is doing. Bush is now undermining the United Nations. He is acting outside it, notwithstanding the fact that the United Nations was the idea of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
Both Bush [and] Blair are undermining an idea which was sponsored by their predecessors. They do not care. Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man? [APPLAUSE] They never did that when secretary-generals were white.
What is the lesson of them acting outside the United Nations? Are they saying any country which believes that [it] will not be able to get the support of the countries with a veto [in the UN] is entitled to go outside the United Nations and to ignore it?
Or are they saying we, the United States, are the only superpower in the world now, [so] we can act as we like? Are they saying this is a lesson we should follow or are they saying 'we are special, what we do should not be done by anybody?'
If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. [APPLAUSE] They don't care for human beings. Fifty-seven years ago, when Japan was retreating on all fronts, they decided to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; killed a lot of innocent people, who are still suffering the effects of those bombs.
Those bombs were not aimed against the Japanese, they were aimed against the Soviet...