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
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
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
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,"