Blair: Tutu can do what he wants to

2012-08-30 22:33

Johannesburg - The most successful countries in the world are those with open-minded people who accept innovation, former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Thursday.

"Those countries who are open to people who are different, those who are open to nations who are different, those who are open to ideas and innovation create successful economies and societies," he said at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg.

"This globalised world offers huge opportunities if people are open-minded. I feel that right now that it is very important in terms of leadership... you have to take responsibility for difficult and often profound long-term decisions."

Blair joked about Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's decision to pull out of the summit in protest at his attendance.

"It's amazing how nice people are to you when you stop being prime minister -- except archbishops of course," he said.

"He [Tutu] is perfectly entitled to do what he wants to do. The essence of democracy is that sometimes you are faced with very difficult positions."

Tutu withdrew from the conference because of Blair's decision to back the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Blair said removing Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from power had been difficult.

"We are faced with the same types of decisions now with Syria. Do we intervene or not intervene? With Iran, do we allow them to get nuclear capability? Are we prepared to intervene and stop them?"

Tutu's office said earlier in the week that the summit had leadership as its theme, and this could not be separated from ideas of morality.

Tutu believed Blair's support of the US's military invasion was morally indefensible.

Blair fielded questions from the audience about his decision to invade Iraq.

"I took the decision in good faith... I knew it was a highly controversial and difficult thing, but I believed it was right.

"The one thing that I have learnt about leadership is that in the end, that is my responsibility. I have to stand by that [decision]. In the end that is what you will elect leaders to do. I will never regret removing a brutal dictatorship."

Blair, flanked by bodyguards, spoke about the attempts that had been made to place him under citizen's arrest for crimes against humanity.

"Why don't they actually go protest against the people doing the killing and the bombing and the suicide attacks?"

He said the threat of Islamic fundamentalism was still an important issue the world had to overcome.

"Extremism is still there, but we are not going to [see it end]... until we tackle it for what it is. It is based on a perversion of religion and it has to be stood up to," Blair said.

"They [extremists] are funded and financed by people with a very warped view of the world and who will take away a lot of the freedoms that we have."

A member of the audience heckled Blair during his speech.

"Thank you... a little bit of protest to make me feel at home," he said. The heckler was escorted out of the hall.

He heckler told Talk Radio 702 he had said: "Tony Blair, you are a war criminal and I'd rather listen to Tutu".

A small group gathered outside the Sandton Convention Centre, where the conference was being held, to protest against Blair's presence.

The protest was broken up shortly after his address.

  • carl.lutzer.3 - 2012-08-31 00:11

    Tutu is a old fossile who thinks the sun shines out of his behind - time to kick the bucket and rid us of your mr know it all attitude

      silentcoder - 2012-08-31 09:52

      At least the good Arch can probably SPELL the word "fossil" and knows the proper grammar for the abbreviation "Mr." . If you're going to be insulting other people whose achievements far outshine your own, you really don't want to be advertising your ignorance, lack of education and absence of respect for your reader like this.

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-08-31 17:28

      Oh dear! I got a bollocking for pointing out a spelling mistake. Rather blame Mr Gates for a lot of the rather odd spelling and grammar.

      bfvillet - 2012-09-29 11:28

      george he has on many occasions blair is a war criminal dressed in a suit, they are just spoiling to get ready for war with Iran.Thousands of people suffer when there is war and nothing can ever justify it.In the end no nuclear weapons were found.Bush and blair belong in jail.

  • piet.boerie - 2012-08-31 05:27

    He is a war criminal. There were no weapons or never any connection to fundementalists as Iraq was a secular. 150 000 people died. So sopme one should be held accountable and because it was not whites, South Africans or africans been bombed must not makes thses actions less justifiable. If there was no oil would Iraq be invaded?

      michael.j.anderson.144 - 2012-09-04 08:57

      @kevin, you need to read and research more, sweetheart. That dictator was INSTALLED by the west and he was unseated for hidden agendas, surely not because he thought it was the right thing to do. And, if you bothered to keep yrself informed, you would know by now that the Syria situation has been uncovered, the rebel forces are a tiny fringe group of violent extremists funded by a third force that tried to capitalize on the Arab spring movement... And failed. You are so misinformed it's embarrassing!

      peter.boettger - 2012-09-04 08:58

      They were not looking for oil PAMOENnnnnnnnnn.

  • Malose-Nyatlo - 2012-08-31 05:30

    As long as basic human rights in the Middle East and elsewhere get trampled, the Tony Blairs will remain relevant.

  • tshivhombelaf - 2012-08-31 05:40

    Tutu is entitled to his constitutional rights by choosing those he thinks he could associate with and those he couldn't associate with. Even Blair himself might have refused to share a stage with some political figures in his political career. Insulting him questions if we are really tolerant as S. Africans.

  • punungwe - 2012-08-31 05:51

    How many people do suicide bombs kill? How many people do drones, airstrikes and other Western actions kill. Mr Blair should consider this, having a hyena in my goat pen does not make have a jackal in their as well a better option. He should also know that speaking on a carefully platform where nobody with counterfacts is allowed to speak does not make him right. The Arch is right. The war in Iraq was a gratuitously violent experiment that was only attempted because the lives at stake were non-Western, considered cheap and snuffed with impunity by leaders like Blair. If Iraq was a Western country, such an experiment would never have been attempted or would have been aborted. I am talking about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died, and the millions whose lives have been endangered by such stupid acts as abolishing and destroying all law and order mechanisms which is the first thing Mr Blair and his friends did. Mr Blair's decision took Iraqis out of a hole and threw them into a deeper pit. Either way they still have to claw their way out. That decision is morally indefensible, especially given that it was based on wilful lies. If it had been based on ignorance alone it might have been for defensible. The West often mistake their ignorance of other people's cultures for superiority.

      Thoughtsandstuff - 2012-08-31 06:25

      Is that some Zimbo flag? Been brainwashed by Uncle Bob? Less than credible if you have...

      punungwe - 2012-08-31 06:41

      I am not even a supporter of uncle bob. But that won't stop me from being proudly Zimbabwean.

      shireen.chodree - 2012-08-31 15:16

      I couldn't have said it better. My sentiments exactly. Why did they not invade Zimbabwe if its the people they thinking about. Because there is no oil.

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-08-31 17:37

      Good for you, punungwe, how many of us would say the same. "Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land!

      bonge.mpofu - 2012-09-04 08:43

      punungwe must stop being stupid. i come from zim as well. there is no freedom of speech at all. he must use zim forums and stop using forums of democratic countries to support dictactors.

      michael.j.anderson.144 - 2012-09-04 09:01

      Thumbs up Punungwe! You're the first person I've met on these forums who is even AWARE of the drone strikes. Why you have so many thumbs down I can't say. Bonge, you're an idiot.

      danie.strydom.7 - 2012-09-29 11:23

      @ Punungwe : Proudly Zimbabwean? Sitting in South Africa with access to the internet and commenting on Iraq. What about your brothers and sisters dying in Zimbabwe? With your eloquent language and protesting skills, why not go back to Zimbabwe and address the inequalities in your own country? The west would do well to invade Zimbabwe and remove that idiot for the sake of humanity. I thank the liberals that they allowed Zimbabwe to become self governed. How else could you eradicate the disease of old fashioned non viable cultures? Give them self governance, sit back and watch the implosion! Go Home Girigamba !! - 2012-09-29 13:11

      @ Danie. Well said. I am so sick and tired of these "clever" zimbos living in SA and spewing drivel.

  • Michael Kleber - 2012-08-31 06:34

    this is what amazes me , people are very quick to point fingers at western leaders and yet see Mugabe as a hero ?

  • iceberg.standard - 2012-08-31 06:47

    I think the Arch just didn't feel like writing a speech:/ I would like him to be this specific and vocal about Robert Mugabe and his crimes against humanity.

      michael.j.anderson.144 - 2012-09-04 09:04

      Um...... Tuta has been vocal about Bob, a bit of research and fact will do wonders for your hitherto baseless opinion

      michael.j.anderson.144 - 2012-09-04 09:04

      Tutu, not Tuta, damn iPad autocorrect

  • J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-08-31 07:21

    Whenever I see a picture of this globe trotting dollar spinner - Blair, I mean - I want to heave. He left his country with huge debt, from interfering in a country where Britain had no business, and lied about it. He probably thinks himself a second Palmerston.

  • Peter Zylstra - 2012-08-31 07:42

    At least Blair & co saved Iraq from the evils of Sadam. Tutu is not a politician and should be more concerned about moral issues here at home ie. farm murders, corruption, crime etc.

  • dewalds3 - 2012-08-31 08:49

    Just show us those WMD's and everything is forgotten..

  • darryl.maze1 - 2012-08-31 09:14

    What about all the African leaders that are starving there own ppl, killing them and taking all the money for themselves???? Why are those idiots not marching and protesting about those African countries??? If you love iraq so much then bugger off there. Come and do your stupid march here when what America and Britain did was right. Saddam killed millions of muslims and he would"ve killed more if America and Britain hadnt stepped in.

      michael.j.anderson.144 - 2012-09-04 09:16

      Hmmm, read more, inform yourself better and then maybe your contribution to this forum will be more than your poor Up informed and low-spirited opinion.

  • michael.freeman.16752 - 2012-08-31 09:30

    The question I put to Tutu what WWJD

  • cliffadams007 - 2012-08-31 09:50

    I am surprised at Arch Tutu, a man of god snubbing Blair. A bad decision I think. He use to and still preaches that one must love one's neighbour. To this he will reply that he does love Blair. But surely God did not coerce his heart to snub Blair. Talking with Blair, to agree, differ and disagree would have been a better option by a man of God. Tutu owes Blair an unreserved apology.

      michael.j.anderson.144 - 2012-09-04 09:19

      You owe the world an apology for being born. If you want to get all religious and start with principles, here's one for you. Evil ptriumhs when good people stand by and do nothing. Snubbing Blair was a loud message that could no opt have come at a better time. And it's awfully assumption of you to profess to know god's hand in all this.

  • riad.mahomed - 2012-08-31 11:09

    Have you ever wondered who is the biggest employer in the US, if I’m not mistaken I think it’s the army and how do you ensure that you sustain such a business, you got to make sure that your employees are being productive and by them being productive, the supplementary industries are kept financially viable by keeping the army going by providing them with supply’s and so forth. It’s a multibillion $ industry. So in order for the American government to ensure that there is enough work for the Army, they have to make a plan to put their guys in action……….so now that the American are almost out of the middle east……….which other country can they invade to keep their army and economy ticking over……..just a thought………

      anwar.rassool - 2012-08-31 11:54

      They have started in Pakistan .. the day they announced the death of the Al-CIAda leader and that he was found and killed in Pakistan, their war mongering found new grounds.

      shireen.chodree - 2012-08-31 15:20

      My sentiment exactly. They will create wars across the world to sustain their sales of weapons

      michael.j.anderson.144 - 2012-09-04 09:22

      You scratch the surface my friend. I can corroborate what you say from years of research. You have described half of the death machine now lovingly known as "The Military Industrial Complex". War has proven to be the most profitable business above all else.

  • godrick.mlambo - 2012-08-31 11:57

    Blair he is fearless n presumptuous about his innocence

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-08-31 17:42

      The Concise Oxford says of Presumptuous - Arrogance.

  • keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-08-31 17:25

    I commend Blair for sticking to his guns. Let Tutu toyi toyi as much as his Arab friends tell himto.

      michael.j.anderson.144 - 2012-09-04 09:22

      Wha...? You still here?

  • peter.boettger - 2012-09-04 08:51

    Perhaps the less said the better ,but IF TUTU cannot face a dialog one on one so be it.It shows you the inner caracter of the man,he cannot converse on the real stage as he will embarrass himself.As a speaker he is a not a waffler indeed. He would have done himself and his believes beter justice had he stood up and had his say He always crawls back to RELIGION what a pity Get up TUTU face the people and show some mettle

  • suash - 2012-09-04 08:54

    Everyone is going on about how Blair did the right thing by backing the US. If getting rid of a dictatorship is all the US and GB cared about why is Mugabe and Al-Assad still in power. There's dictators all around the world but the US will do nothing unless it directly benefits them. Tutu did not oppose the removal of Saddam but rather that fact that it was based on false pretence. Bush and Blair are warmongers and the only people that win in a war are the ones making the weapons. Who knows how much they have profiteered on their campaign to get rid of Saddam.

  • russell.l.tait - 2012-09-04 09:27

    Tutu, just another commy that studied in Europe........why did he not rather go do his degrees in Iraq.

  • russell.l.tait - 2012-09-04 09:28

    AS for Blaire , well said.

  • ntemi.mark - 2012-09-05 17:56

    sometimes tutu! loose it,syria is now in a fire pple are dying now,any intervention tutu? creep really!

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