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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora