News / Europe

Tony Blair at Iraq Inquiry Says War was Right and He'd Do It Again

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair testified before a public inquiry in London about the Iraq War. Mr. Blair remains adamant the decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein was right and necessary and he'd do it again.

In long awaited testimony before the inquiry panel, former prime minister Tony Blair staunchly defended his decision to join the United States in going to war in Iraq in 2003.

He said he firmly believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed a serious threat.  And, Mr. Blair said after the terrorist attacks against the United States September 11th 2001, he too felt Saddam had to be dealt with.

"My assessment of risk prior to September 11th was that Saddam was a menace, that he was a threat, he was a monster, but we would have to try and make best [of it]," said Tony Blair.

Mr. Blair said 9/11 changed the mindset.  He said he shared the American view at the time that the risk of Saddam being allowed to obtain weapons of mass destruction could no longer be tolerated.  Containment was no longer an option, Mr. Blair said.
 
Mr. Blair joined with then U.S. President George W. Bush in leading the invasion of Iraq and sent in tens of thousands of troops.
 
Questions remain about Mr. Blair's close ties to the Bush administration.  Previous testimony at the inquiry claimed the two men had made an agreement "signed in blood" to go to war early on, at a meeting at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas 11 months before the invasion.

Mr. Blair countered that it behooves any British leader to foster a close relationship with America's president.  He denied any firm agreement to go to war at the Crawford meeting.

"The only commitment I gave, and I gave this very openly, to [the] meeting, was the commitment to deal with Saddam," he said.

But, the former prime minister was also adamant about the need to stand by the United States.

"I didn't want America to feel that it had no option but to do it on its own," said Blair.

Mr. Blair responded passionately to questions about the faulty intelligence used as a basis for going to war.  He said he believed in the intelligence he received.  He said his government did not spice up that intelligence and he conceded he was doubtful the United Nations Security Council would take tough action against Saddam Hussein. He said a decision had to be taken.

"This is not about a lie or a conspiracy or a deceit or a deception, it's a decision," he said. "And the decision I had to take was given Saddam's history, given his use of chemical weapons, given the over one million people whose deaths he caused, given 10 years of breaking UN resolutions, could we take the risk of this man reconstituting his weapons program?"

That was not a risk he was prepared to take, he said.

Mr. Blair did concede mistakes were made in planning for the post war period in Iraq.

His decision to invade Iraq remains highly controversial in Britain where public opinion was and remains strongly against the war.

The audience in the hearing room where Mr. Blair testified included family members of soldiers and civilians killed in Iraq.  Outside, emotions ran high as dozens of protestors shouted and carried signs accusing Mr. Blair of being a war criminal.

In his testimony, Mr. Blair also warned leaders of dangers today from links between repressive regimes, failed states and terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction.  He singled out Iran.

"When I look at the way that Iran today links up with terror groups … a large part of the destabilization in the Middle East at the present time comes from Iran," said Tony Blair. "The link between Iran having nuclear weapons capability and those types of terrorist organizations it's the combination that makes it particularly dangerous."

Mr. Blair acknowledged many may not share his view.  But, he said he still believes he made the right decision on Iraq and said he would do it again.
 

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More