Nelson Mandela, 84, may be the world’s most respected statesman. Sentenced to life in prison on desolate Robben Island in 1964 for advocating armed resistance to apartheid in South Africa, the African National Congress leader emerged in 1990 to lead his country in a transition to non-racial elections. As president, his priority was racial reconciliation; today South Africans of all races refer to him by his Xhosa clan honorific, Madiba. Mandela stepped down in 1999 after a single five-year term. He now heads two foundations focused on children. He met with Newsweek’s Tom Masland early Monday morning in his office in Houghton, a Johannesburg suburb, before flying to Limpopo Province to address traditional leaders on the country’s AIDS crisis. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: Why are you speaking out on Iraq? Do you want to mediate, as you tried to on the Mideast a couple of years ago? It seems you are reentering the fray now.
Nelson Mandela: If I am asked, by credible organizations, to mediate, I will consider that very seriously. But a situation of this nature does not need an individual, it needs an organization like the United Nations to mediate. We must understand the seriousness of this situation. The United States has made serious mistakes in the conduct of its foreign affairs, which have had unfortunate repercussions long after the decisions were taken.
Unqualified support of the Shah of Iran led directly to the Islamic revolution of 1979. Then the United States chose to arm and finance the [Islamic] mujahedin in Afghanistan instead of supporting and encouraging the moderate wing of the government of Afghanistan. That is what led to the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the most catastrophic action of the United States was to sabotage the decision that was painstakingly stitched together by the United Nations regarding the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan.
If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what [America] is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries. That is the message they are sending to the world.
That must be condemned in the strongest terms. And you will notice that France, Germany Russia, China are against this decision. It is 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. If you look at those factors, you’ll see that an individual like myself, a man who has lost power and influence, can never be a suitable mediator.
Full story at: Newsweek
Mandela’s sharp statements rarely cited in mainstream media
As the world remembers Nelson Mandela’s legacy as South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon, he was also deeply skeptical of American power, the Iraq invasion, and was a key supporter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
Here are seven quotes from the leader that are less likely to be published as his life is honored and his death commemorated in the mainstream media.
Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, Mandela slammed the actions of the US at a speech made at the International Women’s Forum in Johannesburg, declaring that former President George W. Bush’s primary motive was ‘oil’, while adding that Bush was undermining the UN.
“If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings,” Mandela said.
Mandela did not hold back from making hard-hitting statements against the US, and repeatedly spoke out against the prospect of the country invading Iraq. As the US prepared its mass-action in 2002, Mandela told Newsweek:
“If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.”
Mandela was a long-time supporter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and made a speech to reporters in 1999, in which he agreed to be a political mediator between Israel and its neighbors.
“Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank,” Mandela stated, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency’s Suzanne Belling.
Mandela met with Fidel Castro in 1991, giving a speech alongside him entitled “How Far We Slaves Have Come.” The country was commemorating the 38th anniversary of the storming of the Moncada, and Mandela hailed Cuba’s ‘special place’ in the heart of the people of Africa, its revolution, and how far the country had come.
“From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has also been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of the vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gain made in the Cuban Revolution….Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro.”
Mandela urged for the end to harsh UN sanctions imposed upon Libya in 1997, and pledged his support for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was a longtime supporter of his.
“It is our duty to give support to the brother leader…especially in regards to the sanctions which are not hitting just him, they are hitting the ordinary masses of the people … our African brothers and sisters,” Mandela said.
On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, December 4. 1997, Mandela assembled a group “as South Africans, our Palestinian guests and as humanists to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine.” At the speech, he called for the metaphorical flames of solidarity, justice, and freedom to be kept burning.
“The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
Source: RT News