It is hard to imagine Mandela keeping quiet
The Times Editorial: After Britain joined the US in invading Iraq in 2003, Nelson Mandela telephoned Peter Hain, then secretary of state for Wales in Tony Blair's Labour government, to give him a tongue-lashing.
Mandela was so angry, Hain recalls in his newly published biography of the anti-apartheid icon, ''that he virtually breathed fire''.
''A big mistake Peter, a very big mistake. It is wrong,'' he told Hain. ''Why is Tony doing this after all his support for Africa? This will cause huge damage internationally."
Mandela's outspokeness on the invasion and its trumped-up justification - that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was stockpiling a vast arsenal of "weapons of mass destruction'' - is well documented. In January 2003, two months before the incursion, he said: "What I am condemning is that one power, with a president [George W Bush] who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.''
Granted, Madiba was no longer in power, but it takes courage to stand up and say the president of the most powerful country in the world is behaving like a moron - even if you are Nelson Mandela.
How we miss his moral certitude and forthrightness today.
It is hard to imagine President Mandela keeping silent while militia supporting Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF systematically terrorised opposition voters before a national election.
Or him taking the fifth while bureaucrats barred the Dalai Lama from visiting South Africa in case we upset China.
Or him saying nothing when Swaziland's "prime minister" declares that his government is considering punishing pro-democracy activists by beating their feet with chains.