Nelson Mandela is known as a man of peace, but when he learned that Prime Minister Tony Blair was joining the mad American invasion of Iraq he hurriedly made his views known to British leaders. He contacted an old friend, Peter Hain who was a member of the Cabinet. He told him, “Peter, a big mistake, a very big mistake. It is wrong. Why is Tony doing this after all his support for Africa? This will cause huge damage internationally.” Mandela subsequently told associates that he had never previously been so angry at a foreign policy decision. Hain said that Mandela felt upset because he had always been an admirer of Tony Blair’s record in Africa and thought this would damage the United Kingdom and bring world-wide criticism. Mr. Hain told Mandela that while he respected his comments, he still thought Blair was acting out of conviction.
During the ensuing years, Mandela described Tony Blair as the “US Foreign Minister” rather than as the British Prime Minister. Once again, Nelson Mandela not only had courage, he had intelligence.