Slams U.S. Iraq Policy During Irish Visit
23 June 2003
Former South African President Nelson Mandela said Friday the United
States posed a danger to the world for sidelining the United Nations
to make war on Iraq.
The Nobel peace laureate, in Ireland to open the Special Olympics,
strongly criticized President Bush for circumventing the United
Nations in order to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by
"Any organization, any country, any movement that now decides
to sideline the United Nations, that country and its leader are
a danger to the world," Mandela said in Galway, where he received
an honorary degree a day before opening the games.
"We cannot allow the world to again degenerate into a place
where the will of the powerful dominates over all other considerations,"
he added. "That will surely prove to be a recipe for growing
anarchy in world affairs."
Mandela received an honorary doctorate in law from the National
University of Ireland before returning to Dublin where he will join
a star-studded cast to open the 11th Special Olympics for athletes
with learning disabilities.
Mandela, who said South Africans strongly identified with Ireland's
struggle to end colonial rule, told an audience of 1,100 that he
appreciated Irish support for South Africa's struggle to end apartheid
Now 84, and walking with difficulty with the aid of a cane, Mandela
spent 27 years in prison, much of that on Robben Island near Cape
Town, in solitary confinement.
He told his Irish audience he had "an appreciation for your
support to our struggle at a time when it was not fashionable to
demonstrate such support."
But Mandela suggested Ireland had failed to show as much backbone
in standing up to the U.S. war effort in Iraq, which relied heavily
on troop transports stopping over at Shannon airport in western
Ireland also is a European base for many U.S. multinational companies.
"You are keeping quiet. You are afraid of this country (the
United States) and its leader," he said.
The 30-minute speech was met by thunderous and sustained applause
by an audience of academics and invited guests and by the general
public watching nearby.
"It's great to see him... he fought for his rights,"
said Claire Rabbitte, who stood on one of the campus laneways to
catch a glimpse of Mandela, wearing academic robes, as he was driven
to the hall in an open buggy.
Mandela said there were strong parallels between the struggle against
apartheid in South Africa and the Northern Irish peace process,
which culminated in a 1998 peace deal for power sharing between
Protestants and Roman Catholics.
"Our own experience in South Africa, where we confounded the
prophets of doom and achieved a peaceful settlement, inspires us
to believe that no situation can be so intractable that it cannot
be solved through negotiations and willingness to compromise,"
Saturday, Mandela, former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali
and rock supergroup U2 will open the games.
Seven thousand competitors from 160 countries have gathered in
Ireland for the festival at Dublin's Croke Park stadium, the first
time it has been held outside the United States.