An Open Letter to Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Help Us Send the Dragon to Hague

“Archbishop Tutu calls for ‘lying’ Blair and Bush to face trial in Hague Criminal Court over Iraq war.” (By Daniel Martin, Whitehall Correspondent; 2 September 2012)

By James Alic Garang

Dear The Most Reverend Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu:

September 26, 2012 (SSNA) — Starting out as a South Africa’s moral conscience and now the world’s voice for the voiceless, your role as a defender of human rights is universally received.

To those of us coming of age during era, we came to learn about your heroic and selfish crusades against Apartheid in South Africa as well your unwavering fights against other collective evils such as AIDs, sexism, racism, poverty or human indignity. As a distinguished Chairman of The Elders, these universal causes brought you immeasurable accolades including the Nobel Peace Prize, Gandhi Peace Prize, Sydney Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Pacem in Terris Award and Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism,. You are truly a voice of reason and for the downtrodden because when you speak, the world listens.

I heartily agree with your characterization of Iraq invasion: it has polarized the world. In addition to loss of innocent lives following the “Coalition of the willing” war, global public opinions about America are at records-low. That is the price America pays for unilateralism or go -it -alone approach in Iraq. No wonder President Obama has been trying to repair the damage by avoiding episodes of “Mission Accomplished” euphoria and hyped political utterances. Notwithstanding, his critics have seen this approach as naivety and undervaluing the military might of America. But to Mr. Obama and notables like you, The Most Reverend Archbishop Tutu, American exceptionalism is earned largely through her soft power. Chest-beating is a thing of the past and should be relegated to history.

Dear Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, while I concur with you about the damage Iraq invasion has done to the world peace and international cooperation (exemplify by our moral failings and/or political inertia today in Syria, North Korea, Iran or Sudan’s Bashir), I beg to differ with you about your call on former US president George W. Bush and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be taken to Hague, as reported by Daniel Martin in the above quoted title. Not that I have a moral standing to claim the two leaders are unblemished, it is just that the chances of prosecuting them are slim. First, America is not a signatory to the ICC. For starters, the Land of the Brave reluctantly signed the Rome Statute in 2000 but chose to immediately unsign it in May 2002 under President Bush. 

Hence, if the war crime investigation is warranted, Bush can only be tried in American courtroom; not at The Hague. Second, this is the president election year and bearing in mind the political polarization of America today, I see this as a futile attempt. The Republican controlled-house won’t allow it even though some liberal democrats could be swayed to push for investigation about WMD lies concocted to rationalize invasion dubbed “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Third, the same is also true for former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Already, two British studies or investigation have cleared Tony Blair’s government of any wrongdoing in drumming up the troops to invade Iraq. I submit that even future inquiry would not deviate much from these findings of no wrongdoing.

So, instead of spending your precious time avoiding sitting with Blair/Bush and calling on the duo to face trials at The Hague, I plead with you to call on Mr. Prime Minister Bashir to face trial over his crimes. With so much blood in his hand, the dragon is figuratively at the doorstep of our human family. Al Bashir is militarily bullying his neighbors and citizens—South Sudan, Southern Kordofan, Nuba Mountain and Darfur— to silence.

Therefore, on the grand scheme of things, The most Reverend Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town is welcome to demand sending the criminal closer to home: Bashir to Hague.

The world will be a lot safer with President Bashir behind bars than Bush and Blair.

In sum, may almighty God bless you with good health for many years to come, so that you may continue to lend credence to moral issues of our day and to give your service to humanity as a moral campus finder.

The Author is a PhD Candidate in economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and he can be contacted at [email protected]

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