Tony Blair Continues To Defend Bush’s Iraq Policies And His Own Complicity
At an official inquiry into his role in the Iraq war, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair continued to defend failed Iraq policies.
Many in the audience, including the relatives of soldiers and civilians killed in the war, were not impressed. Blair’s claim to have no regrets drew an angry outburst. As he left, one man stood up and shouted “You are a liar!” A second added: “And a murderer.”
The six-hour session Friday capped a wide-ranging inquiry that since November has heard extensive evidence from government lawyers and ministers who raised doubts about the legality and wisdom of the 2003 Iraq invasion, which was extremely unpopular in Britain.
So unpopular, in fact, that it led to the end of his reign. Sadly, Blair continued to advocate for preemptive war.
“The decision I took — and frankly would take again — was, if there was any possibility that he could develop weapons of mass destruction, we would stop him,” Blair said. “It was my view then and that is my view now.”
Blair conceded there were no known ties between Saddam and the al-Qaida architects of the 9/11 atrocities, but said he feared such links could have developed if Saddam and his sons remained in power.
Blair also insisted the U.S.-led invasion would have been called off had Saddam changed course and proved to U.N. inspectors that he had destroyed his arsenal.
That was met with a rebuff by one panel member, renowned historian Sir Lawrence Freedman, who pointed out in acid tones that it would have been difficult for Saddam to prove he had dismantled weapons he didn’t have in the first place.
Blair was asked about pledging support for war with Iraq at a 2002 meeting with George W. Bush.
Blair denied this, saying he had told Bush “we are going to be with you in confronting and dealing with this threat” of Iraqi WMD.
He added: “How we did that was an open question, and even at that stage I was raising the issue of going to the UN.”
Blair admitted he and Bush had discussed the military option but only if the UN route failed, adding: “The position was not a covert position, it was an open position.”
In other words, they did discuss going to war with Iraq regardless of what the UN was going to say.Click here for reuse options!
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