Sunday, September 12, 2010
Nelson Mandela 'felt betrayed by Tony Blair over decision to join Iraq invasion' | World news | The Guardian
Image via WikipediaNelson Mandela 'felt betrayed by Tony Blair over decision to join Iraq invasion' | World news | The Guardian
Furious phone call to cabinet minister in protest at military action
Nelson Mandela felt so betrayed by Tony Blair's decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq that he launched a fiery tirade against him in a phone call to a cabinet minister, it emerged today.
Peter Hain, a lifelong anti-apartheid campaigner who knows the ex-South African president well, said Mandela was "breathing fire" down the line in protest at the 2003 military action.
The trenchant criticisms were made in a formal call to the minister's office, not in a private capacity, and Blair was informed of what had been said, Hain added. The details are revealed in Hain's new biography of Mandela.
"He rang me up when I was a Cabinet minister in 2003, after the invasion," he told the Press Association. "He said: 'A big mistake, Peter, a very big mistake. It is wrong. Why is Tony doing this after all his support for Africa? This will cause huge damage internationally.'
"I had never heard Nelson Mandela so angry and frustrated. He clearly felt very, very strongly that the decision that the prime minister had taken – and that I as a member of the cabinet had been party to – was fundamentally wrong, and he told me it would destroy all the good things that Tony Blair and we, as a government, had done in progressive policy terms across the world."