CAIRO - Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu called Sunday, September 2, for putting former American president George W. Bush and Britain's ex-premier Tony Blair on trial for war crimes for their role in the invasion of Iraq.
The Iraq military campaign had made the world more unstable "than any other conflict in history", Tutu, a South African icon, wrote in Britain's The Observer newspaper.
The former Archbishop of Cape Town said the 2003 Anglo-Saxon invasion of Iraq to topple the Saddam Hussein regime had brought about conditions for civil war in Syria and a possible Middle East conflict involving Iran.
"The then leaders of the United States [Bush] and Great Britain [Blair] fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand - with the specter of Syria and Iran before us.
"The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Bush and Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level."
Bush and his ally Blair launched Iraq war in 2003 to topple the Saddam's regime on claims of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, a trace of which has never been found.
Washington even produced then what it referred to as irrefutable evidence at a UN Security Council meeting about the oil-rich country's WMDs.
In 2004, then UN secretary general Kofi Annan described the invasion of Iraq as illegal.
Since the invasion, Iraq has plunged into abyss with overlapping civil conflicts that have left tens of thousands of civilians dead.
Iraqis have seen their lives sliding from bad to worse since the invasion, as the country remains gripped by violence and lacks many life essentials.
Though violence in Iraq is a far cry from the sectarian slaughter of 2006-07, the country still suffers daily attacks from a stubborn insurgency and from Shiite militiamen.
The veteran peace campaigner accused the West of applying different standards for The Hague trials when it comes to the horrifying death toll of Iraq war.
"On these grounds, alone, in a consistent world, those responsible should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague," said Archbishop Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 in recognition of his campaign against apartheid.
In response to Sunday's article, Blair issued a strongly-worded defense of his decisions.
"To repeat the old canard that we lied about the intelligence [on weapons of mass destruction] is completely wrong as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown, Blair said.
"And to say that the fact that Saddam massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre.
"In short this is the same argument we have had many times with nothing new to say. But surely in a healthy democracy people can agree to disagree.
"I would also point out that despite the problems, Iraq today has an economy three times or more in size, with child mortality rate cut by a third of what it was. And with investment hugely increased in places like Basra."
Taking Tutu's side, Human rights lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman insisted that the Iraq war was an illegal aggressive war.
A war crimes trial "should be and could be held on the basis a crime of aggression has been committed and the crime of aggression was starting the war, Sir Bindman told BBC Radio 4."It's now almost certain that the war was illegal because it breached the UN Charter provisions which say that all member of the United Nations must refrain from the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."