Friday, 31 January 2003

Mandela goes nuts

As you've probably read by now, ex-political prisoner and former South African president Nelson Mandela has started sounding a bit more like current South African president Thabo Mbeki (and former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney):

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who Bush has praised as a hero of human rights, joined the chorus of critics by calling Bush arrogant and implying the president was racist for threatening to bypass the United Nations and attack Iraq.

"Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man? They never did that when secretary-generals were white," Mandela said.

He also repeats the Chomsky-ite critique of U.S. actions in Iraq:

A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mandela has repeatedly condemned U.S. behavior toward Iraq in recent months and demanded Bush respect the authority of the United Nations. His comments Thursday, though, were far more critical and his attack on Bush far more personal than in the past.

"Why is the United States behaving so arrogantly?" he asked. "All that (Bush) wants is Iraqi oil," he said.

The blogospheric reaction hasn't been all that positive. Jessie Rosenberg came out of reclusion to state:

Most pronouncements of racism I can at least understand, though usually not accept. This, though, makes very little sense to me. Why did Mandela choose to call Bush racist, instead of one of the many other possible pejoratives which would be at least a bit more relevant to the topic of discussion? I don't agree with most of the criticisms of Bush concerning Iraq, but if people are going to criticize him, I'd think they'd at least choose a criticism about Iraq.

Of course, as the saying goes, if you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Meanwhile, OxBlog's David Adesnik suggests that “the real reason is that the US no longer trusts any nation or organization headed by a Nobel Peace Prize winner.” Heck, we don't even trust our own ex-presidents who are Nobel Peace Prize winners, or even past secretaries of state, so it's hardly surprising we wouldn't trust anybody else who received that honor.

Emily Jones, on the other hand, is more concerned with taking down Mandela's reputation as a pacifist:

And speaking of the unspeakable, I wonder if Mr. Mandela cares to share his thoughts with us on "necklacing"? Or maybe explain what "One Settler, One Bullet" is supposed to mean? I guess the whole "Kill a Boer, kill a Farmer" was just one huge, misunderstood joke?

I'm not sure how much of the terroristic activity Mandela was really involved with — he was in prison, after all, for most of it — but it doesn't seem particularly germane to his point, which basically seems to be “unilateralism bad, multilateralism good” coupled with the bizarre viewpoint that the endorsement of the U.N. Security Council is securable through anything other than good old-fashioned realpolitik, coming from the same addled parts of the international community that think the International Court of Justice will be an impartial body and who put a great deal of stock in U.N. General Assembly resolutions. The fundamental bottom line is that the UNSC can lead (unlikely, given French and German rhetoric), follow (relatively likely), or get steamrolled (and join the Kellogg-Briand Pact and League of Nations in the dustbin of history), and the sooner Mandela, Chirac, and Schröder realize that the better off everyone will be.