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Apologise for war, says Tutu

by
20 February 2004

ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu, speaking in London, has challenged Tony Blair and George Bush to apologise for their pursuit of an "immoral war" that has left the world less safe than it was before.

The "belligerent militarist principles" that had produced the "novel and dangerous principle of pre-emption on the basis of intelligence reports" had proved to be dangerously flawed, Dr Tutu said in his Longford Lecture at Church House, Westminster, on Monday.

Those principles had been the basis for the United States' going to war and "dragging a Britain that declared that intelligence reports showed Iraq to have the capacity to launch its weapons of mass destruction in a matter of minutes", Dr Tutu said. He went on to reflect: "How wonderful if politicians could bring themselves to admit they are only fallible human creatures and not God, and thus by definition can make mistakes."

Dr Tutu called for a process of "restorative justice", as exemplified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, rather than retribution and revenge for those who had committed gross human-rights violations.

Restorative justice gave up on no one, and it might be prudent to see what it could do for a penal system that was "clearly not delivering the goods", said Dr Tutu. He gave instances of the "ghastly hair-raising revelations" made about atrocities that an amnesty applicant had committed. "We had to point out that, yes, indeed, these people were guilty of monstrous, even diabolical, deeds on their own submission; but that did not turn them into monsters or demons. To have done so would mean that they could not be held responsible for their dastardly deeds. Monsters have no moral responsibility."

The Archbishop, who is visiting professor on post-conflict societies at King's College, London, was in the public gallery for the sexuality debate at Synod last week, and received a standing ovation. In a sermon at Southwark Cathedral the previous week, Dr Tutu had declared that the Jesus he worshipped was "not likely to collaborate with those who vilify and persecute an already oppressed minority", and that to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation was for him "as totally unacceptable and unjust as apartheid ever was".

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