Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, the 1986 Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and the 2005 Gandhi Peace Prize (among many others), suggested yesterday that, "in a consistent world," George W. Bush and Tony Blair should be facing prosecution by the International Criminal Court for their roles in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Tutu's comments, published as an opinion piece in The Observer in which he explained his reasons for backing out of a conference in which Blair was scheduled to speak, were reported by the Associated Press as a call for the prosecution of Bush and Blair.
Here are Tutu's actual words, which seem to fall somewhat short of actually calling for prosecution but are quite damning nonetheless:
The cost of the decision to rid Iraq of its by-all-accounts despotic and murderous leader has been staggering, beginning in Iraq itself. Last year, an average of 6.5 people died there each day in suicide attacks and vehicle bombs, according to the Iraqi Body Count project. More than 110,000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had been killed and more than 32,000 wounded.
On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life 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.
While it is highly unlikely that Bush or Blair will ever face prosecution for their roles in the invasion of Iraq, both men left office with a tarnished image in large part due to the Iraq War. Bush, in fact, had a 22 percent approval rating at the end of his second term (the lowest approval rating for a departing president in the history of Gallup's approval poll) and is the only living ex-president with an approval rating below 50 percent. He was given no role--and was scarcely mentioned--during the recently concluded Republican National Convention. For his part, Blair also left office (in 2007) with an approval rating under 30 percent.