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Tutu: Iraq war 'immoral' mistake

Peace prize winner Desmond Tutu.
Peace prize winner Desmond Tutu.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Saying the United States and Britain must regain international credibility, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged George Bush and Tony Blair to admit they made a mistake in launching an "immoral war" in Iraq.

The world is a less safe place than before, the church leader said.

"How wonderful if politicians could bring themselves to admit they are only fallible human creatures, and not God, and thus by definition can make mistakes," Tutu said in a speech in London on Monday.

"Weak and insecure people hardly ever say, 'Sorry.' It is large-hearted and courageous people who are not diminished by saying, 'I made a mistake.'

President Bush and Mr Blair would recover considerable credibility and respect if they were able to say, 'Yes, we made a mistake,'" he said.

The nobel laureate criticized the leaders for justifying the war by saying it was necessary to oust Saddam Hussein, rhetoric that has intensified since no weapons of mass destruction had been found.

Saying he holds "no grief for Saddam Hussein," Tutu asked why there was a need for regime change in Iraq instead of, say, North Korea or Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma.

"Who makes the decision about which regimes should be changed? And what authority do they (Bush and Blair) have to do whatever they may think is right?" Tutu asked. "Or is it a matter of 'might is right' and to hell with the rule of international law?"

He also said it was dangerous to launch a war based on intelligence that has proven to be "dangerously flawed."

"An immoral war was, thus, waged and the world is a great deal less safe place than before," he said.

Tutu was the recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his role as a unifying leader in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa.

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