By Khaled Diab
18 July 2009
Lightly disguised under her maiden name which she uses for professional purposes, Cherie Booth, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, took the African Union to task on Saturday in The Guardian over its decision not to co-operate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) – and, by implication, not to assist in executing the indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. She wrote:
The truly disheartening part of this resolution is that it is backed not just by those countries who have opposed the ICC from the start but also by those – the majority on the African continent – who have signed the Rome treaty [establishing the ICC].
Yes, I too find it a terrible shame that African – and Arab – countries have shown solidarity with a war criminal. I even wrote a column about it for The Guardian in April. I concluded:
There is a widespread belief that, in the ugly balance of reality, African and Arab lives are worth less than Western ones. But by expressing solidarity with a known mass murderer, Arabs and Africans are also cheapening the value of their own lives.
Booth expresses a similar frustration: “It is disheartening to see politicians showing their solidarity with the Bashirs of the world rather than with the victims of mass rapes, murders and mutilations.”
Had this article come from someone else, I would’ve found it easier to swallow. But this person expressing how “depressing” and “disheartening” those benighted Africans are just happens to be the wife of a man widely perceived as a war criminal, one of the worst living warlords in the West (I’ve outlined before the powerful case for indicting both George W Bush and Tony Blair for war crimes and crimes against humanity).
Well, Cherie, how do you suggest we should feel towards people who not only show “solidarity” but actually share a house with an alleged war criminal? Should we find that equally “depressing” and “disheartening”?
Naturally, no wife is her husband’s keeper nor vice versa; and I don’t hold Cherie responsible for Tony’s war-mongering. But surely a woman of as much conscience as she professes should take a moral stand against injustice wherever it is perpetrated. After all, as a barrister, Cherie Booth QC should be aware that justice is blind.
If she feels unable to speak up for justice at home, then I would advise Ms Booth to keep her opinion on this matter to herself because Africans will undoubtedly find it pretty cheeky that the wife of the co-author of the Afghan and Iraq catastrophes should condemn their inaction.