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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid