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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid