so who would listen to an 84-year-old black man anyway? I do
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Former South African President Nelson Mandela lashed out at U.S. President George Bush's stance on Iraq on Thursday, saying the Texan had no foresight and could not think properly.
Mandela, a towering statesman respected the world over for his fight against Apartheid-era discrimination, said the U.S. leader and British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) were undermining the United Nations (news - web sites), and suggested they would not be doing so if the organization had a white leader.
"It is a tragedy what is happening, what Bush is doing in Iraq," Mandela told an audience in Johannesburg. "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," he added, to loud applause.
"Both Bush as well as Tony Blair are undermining an idea (the United Nations) which was sponsored by their predecessors," Mandela said. "Is this because the secretary general of the United Nations (Ghanaian Kofi Annan (news - web sites)) is now a black man? They never did that when secretary generals were white."
Mandela said he would support without reservation any action agreed upon by the United Nations against Iraq, which Bush and Blair say has weapons of mass destruction and is a sponsor of terror groups, including Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s al Qaeda network.
The United States has promised to reveal evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) has breached U.N. resolutions, a charge Iraq denies.
Mandela said action without U.N. support was unacceptable and set a bad precedent for world politics.
"Are they saying this is a lesson that you should follow, or are they saying we are special, what we do should not be done by anyone," he said in his speech to the International Women's Forum on the theme of Courageous Leadership for Global Transformation.
Nobel Peace Laureate Mandela, 84, has spoken out many times against Bush's stance, and South Africa's close ties with Libya and Cuba irked Washington during Mandela's own presidency.
He also attacked the United States's record on human rights, criticizing the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagaski in World War II.
"Because they decided to kill innocent people in Japan, who are still suffering from that, who are they now to pretend that they are the policeman of the world?..." he asked.
"lf there is a country which has committed unspeakable atrocities, it is the United States of America...They don't care for human beings."
But he said he was happy that people, especially those in the United States, were opposing military action in Iraq.
"I hope that that opposition will one day make him understand that he has made the greatest mistake of his life," Mandela said.