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Nelson Mandela Is Condemning Bush’s Plans to Invade Iraq; South African President Thabo Mbeki Announces Baghdad and U.N. Inspectors Have Accepted South Africa’s Offer to Help Iraq Disarm

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South African President Thabo Mbeki today announced that both Baghdad and U.N. weapons inspectors have accepted South Africa’s offer to help Iraq disarm. Speaking at the opening of the South African Parliament, Mbeki said a South African team had offered to share its own experience of the disarmament of weapons.

Blix last month praised what he calls “the South African model of cooperation” with the United Nations and urged Baghdad to adopt it. A decade ago, Blix was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency when its inspectors traveled to South Africa to verify claims that all the country’s nuclear weapons had been dismantled. Today Blix reports to the U.N. Security Council.

The world’s media is riveted on the deepening split between the U.S. and Europe. But countries all over the world are opposed to the Bush administration’s plans to launch a first-strike attack on Iraq.

At the African Union summit in Ethiopia last week, 54 African heads of state issued a statement saying the African Union is firmly against any war against Iraq. African Union chair and South African President Mbeki said many of Africa’s economic problems stem from a sharp rise in oil prices following war in the Middle East in 1973. He warned that a new conflict in the Gulf would have a serious impact on Africa’s economies by pushing up oil prices.

Meanwhile, former South African President Nelson Mandela has strongly criticized the Bush administration. Mandela spent 30 years in prison for his leadership in the struggle against apartheid. In 1994, he was elected the president of South Africa’s new multiracial democracy. He spoke last month to the International Women’s Forum meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Tape:

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, political prisoner and anti-apartheid movement leader, speaking at the International Women’s Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, on January 30, 2003.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman.

South African President Thabo Mbeki today announced that an offer to help Iraq disarm its weapons of mass destruction has been accepted by both Baghdad and United Nations weapons inspectors. Speaking at the opening of the South African Parliament, Mbeki said a South African team had offered to share its own experience of the disarmament of weapons. Blix last month praised what he calls the South African model of cooperation with the United Nations and urged Baghdad to adopt it. A decade ago, Blix was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency when its inspectors traveled to South Africa to verify claims that all the country’s nuclear weapons had been dismantled.

Meanwhile, former South African President Nelson Mandela has strongly criticized George Bush and his plans to attack Iraq. Mandela spent 30 years — close to 30 years in prison for his struggles against apartheid. In 1994, he was elected president of South Africa’s new multiracial democracy. He spoke last week to the International Women’s Forum meeting in Johannesburg. He talked about President Bush being a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly. He said, “It’s a tragedy, what is happening, what Bush is doing in Iraq.” He said, “What I’m condemning is that one power with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.” Let’s go to Nelson Mandela in South Africa, to that speech.

NELSON MANDELA: The First World War was from 1914 to 1918. Then, the second war took place 21 years later, from 1939 to 1945. The Third World War has not occurred as yet. It is 57 years since the last World War. There has been no war. That is because of the United Nations, which is there to ensure that all countries that have differences should bring those differences to the United Nations to be resolved collectively. And that is why we have had no war for the last 57 years.

But Bush is now undermining the United Nations. He is acting outside it, notwithstanding the fact the United States is the idea of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Both Bush as well as Tony Blair are undermining an idea which was sponsored by their predecessors. They do not care. Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a Black man? They never did that when secretary-generals were white. What is the lesson of them acting outside the United Nations? Are they saying any country which believes that they will not be able to get the support of the countries with a veto are entitled to go outside the United Nations and to ignore it? Or are they saying, “We, the United Nations, have the only superpower in the world now. We can act as we like”? Are they saying this is the lesson that we should follow, or are they saying, “We are special. What we do should not be done by anybody?”

And if there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care. They don’t care for human beings. Fifty-seven years ago, when Japan was retreating on all fronts, they decided to drop the atom bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killed a lot of innocent people, who are still suffering from the effects of those bombs. Those bombs were not aimed against the Japanese; they were aimed against the Soviet Union, to say, “Look, this is the power that we have. If you dare oppose what we do, this is what is going to happen to you.” Because they are so arrogant, they decided to kill innocent people in Japan, who are still suffering from that. Who are they now to pretend that they are the policemen of the world?

AMY GOODMAN: Nelson Mandela, speaking in Johannesburg at the International Women’s Forum. He asked, “Why does the United States behave so arrogantly? Their friend, Israel, has got weapons of mass destruction, but because it’s their ally, they won’t ask the U.N. to get rid of it. They just want the oil.” While the media attention is focusing on Europe’s refusal to support the U.S. war policy, the African Union summit in Ethiopia last week had a meeting of 54 African heads of state, issued a statement saying it was firmly against any war against Iraq. The union stressed that any decision to strike Iraq should be led by the United Nations. Again, we go back to Nelson Mandela at the International Women’s Forum in Johannesburg.

NELSON MANDELA: If the United Nations says, “Saddam Hussein is not carrying out the resolutions of the United Nations, therefore we, the United Nations, are going to take action,” I will support that without reservation. What I am condemning — what I’m condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.

And I’m happy that the people of the world, especially those of the United States of America, are standing up and opposing their own president. I hope that that opposition will one day make him understand that he has made the greatest mistake of his life in trying to bring about carnage and to police the world, without any authority from the international body. It is something we have to condemn without reservation. And the women at this forum is there to look into these things, to be bold with their leadership and to condemn what is wrong.

And finally, we have, of course, the question of globalization in this continent. As Cheryl Carolus has said, somebody who is saying he or she is not going to accept globalization is like saying, “I don’t recognize winter. I am not going to put on clothing for winter.” She has put it very well, because what happens today in the North, northern Europe, has got an effect on our region the same day. Globalization is already there, whether we like it or not. And anybody who does not want to recognize it cannot go on in this life. And, of course, globalization at the present moment favors the rich and the mighty. We have to fight that. It must favor all human beings, whether in Europe or in Africa. And I’m sure this is the task of this forum to make sure that such irregularities are rectified. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Former South African President Nelson Mandela, speaking in Johannesburg to the International Women’s Forum, warning about George Bush’s threat to the world, calling him a “president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, … now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.”

You are listening to Democracy Now! By the way, we’ll be live at the protests in New York on Saturday, broadcasting around the country on public access TV stations and radio stations. You can simply call your radio station and ask them to broadcast the protest, “World Says No to War.” We’ll also be calling people around the country and the world at their protests. If you will be at one, please email us your cellphone at mail@democracynow.org. That’s mail@democracynow.org. When we come back, Arundhati Roy.

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“It Won’t Be Long Before the Majority of American People Become Our Allies”: Award-Winning Author Arundhati Roy Condemns Bush’s Plans to Invade Iraq

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