Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, described by Barack Obama as a "moral titan" in 2009, called Sunday for George W. Bush and Tony Blair to face prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their respective roles in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Tutu, the retired Anglican Church’s archbishop of South Africa, wrote in an op-ed piece for The Observer newspaper that the ex-leaders of Britain and the United States should be made to “answer for their actions,” claiming the Iraq war has destabilized and polarized the world "to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.”
“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,” Tutu asserted.
He continued: “The then-leaders of the U.S. and U.K. fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand — with the specter of Syria and Iran before us.”
"The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level," Tutu added.
While the International Criminal Court can handle cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, it does not currently have the jurisdiction to prosecute crimes of aggression. Furthermore, the U.S. is among the nations which do not recognize the authority of the International Criminal Court.
In response to Tutu, Blair said he had great respect for the archbishop’s work to tackle apartheid in South Africa, but accused him of repeating inaccurate criticisms of the Iraq war.
“To repeat the old canard that we lied about the intelligence is completely wrong as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown,” Blair said. “And to say that the fact that [Saddam Hussein] massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre.”
Blair said that “in a healthy democracy people can agree to disagree,” but Tutu seemingly feels otherwise.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.