Nelson Mandela never wanted America to respect the rule of racist South Africa. So why does he now want America to respect the "sovereignty" of Iraq?
In his interview with Newsweek earlier this week, he declared America a "threat to world peace," saying that the U.S. harbors an attitude dangerous to "the sovereignty of other countries."
"The United States has made serious mistakes in the conduct of its foreign affairs," he said, citing, among others, America's Cold War decision to "arm and finance the mujahedin" against the Soviets. America's plans for Iraq, he continued, are "clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America."
When the Newsweek reporter asked Mandela about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, he quickly changed the subject. There is no "evidence" that Iraq possesses them, he said, adding, "But what we know is that Israel has weapons of mass destruction. Nobody talks about that. Why should there be one standard for one country, especially because it is black, and another one for another country, Israel, that is white."
The outrageous comments just kept flowing. In cheap-shot mode, he retailed the gossip that "many people" believe the U.S. and Great Britain do not "respect" the U.N. when its secretary generals are black, adding weakly, "This is not my view, but that is what is being said by many people."
He also noted cheaply that he had read an "article that said (Dick Cheney) is the real president of the United States of America. I don't know how true that is." But he is certain that Cheney and Rumsfeld are "misleading the president." The men around Bush are "dinosaurs, who do not want to belong to the modern age," he said, with one exception, Colin Powell: "The only man, the only person who wants to help Bush move to the modern era is Gen. Colin Powell, the secretary of State."
Mandela's anti-Americanism and moral-equivalence babble should appall but not surprise. This, after all, is the left-wing theoretician who once penned a pamphlet called "How To Be A Good Communist," in which he praised the "genius" of Marx, Lenin and Stalin.
"The cause of Communism is the greatest and most arduous cause in the history of mankind," he wrote. "On Page One of this section we found out that our aim is to change the present world into a Communist world where there will be no exploiters and exploited, no oppressor and oppressed, no rich and poor. We also make the point that the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., in China and other States in Asia and Eastern Europe proves that a Communist world is capable of attainment."
"But in spite of this victorious advance," he continued, "the Communist movement still faces powerful enemies which must be crushed and wiped out from the face of the earth before a Communist world can be realised. Without a hard and bitter and long struggle against capitalism and exploitation, there can be no Communist world. The cause of Communism is the greatest cause in the history of mankind, because it seeks to remove from society all forms of oppression and exploitation to liberate mankind, and to ensure peace and prosperity to all."
Mandela was confused then and he is confused now. He worries about "the archconservative" Dick Cheney, even as he defends the "sovereignty" of Saddam Hussein.
Newsweek, which gratuitously crowned Mandela perhaps the "world's most respected statesman," asked him if he wanted to mediate the conflict between Iraq and the U.S. He didn't think he would be considered a "suitable mediator." Is it any wonder why?