Girish Gupta

HOME

PHOTOS

ONLINE

Twitter
Instagram
IFTTT
Facebook
LinkedIn
Keybase
GitHub

BY COUNTRY

Brazil
Colombia
Cuba
Ecuador
Egypt
Guyana
Iraq
Jordan
Lebanon
Mexico
United Kingdom
Venezuela

BY MEDIUM

Text
Photo
Radio
TV/Video

BY PUBLISHER

Al Jazeera
BBC
BuzzFeed
CBC
Christian Science Monitor
CNN
Daily Mail
Datum
Ecologist
Economist Intelligence Unit
Emerging Markets
Financial Times
Foreign Policy
France 24
Fusion
GlobalPost
Guardian
Independent
La Prensa (Panama)
LatinFinance
Mancunion
Monocle
National (Abu Dhabi)
New Internationalist
New Statesman
New York Times
New Yorker
NPR
PBS
PRI
Radio France Internationale
Reuters
RTE
Sky News
Sun
Sunday Times
Telegraph
TIME
Times of London
USA Today
Vice
WLRN

ABOUT

About
CV
Contact (PGP Key)
Defiant Blair says no regrets over Iraq war
Jan. 29, 2010

Published by Reuters, China Daily, New York Times, Yahoo

Michael Holden and Keith Weir (Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Girish Gupta; editing by Janet Lawrence)

LONDON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Friday he had no regrets about the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, saying Saddam Hussein was a threat to the world who had to be disarmed or removed.

Blair said the Sept. 11 al Qaeda attacks on the United States meant rogue states had to be dealt with to prevent weapons of mass destruction (WMD) falling into the wrong hands, risking even greater carnage.

Facing the first official public grilling on why he sent 45,000 British troops to war in Iraq, he repeatedly said he was concerned that such a risk remained today, referring to fears over Iran's disputed nuclear programme.

"Responsibility, but not a regret for removing Saddam Hussein," he said, when asked if he had misgivings about taking military action. He said a majority of Iraqis would say they were better off now than under the former dictator.

The decision to go to war was the most controversial episode of Blair's 10-year premiership, provoking huge protests, divisions within his Labour Party and accusations he had deceived the public about the reasons for invasion.

"In the end it was divisive. And I'm sorry about that," he said. "But if I'm asked if I believe we are safer, more secure, that Iraq is better, that our own security is better with Saddam and his two sons out of power and out of office, then I believe indeed we are."

JUDGMENT CALL

During six hours of intense questioning, Blair, 56, was unrepentant over the stand he took with then U.S. President George W. Bush, batting away queries about the legality of war or whether he had misled the public over the reasons for it.

"This isn't about a lie, or a conspiracy, or a deceit, or a deception, this is a decision," said Blair, who initially looked nervous but grew more assured as the hearing went on.

The inquiry is seeking to learn the lessons from the conflict and does not have the power to punish individuals.

Saddam's history of using WMD and his refusal to cooperate with U.N. inspectors meant he posed a threat that could not be ignored, Blair said.

No evidence has emerged to link Iraq with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, but Blair said they had changed the "calculus of risk".

"I believed ... we were right not to run that risk," said Blair, adding he was convinced Saddam was intent on restarting his WMD programme and had retained the intellectual know-how to do so, even though no such weapons have ever been found.

The Iraq war sapped support for Blair and his Labour Party and the issue provokes deep public anger almost three years after Blair handed over to Gordon Brown.

Brown will appear in late February or early March and commentators say the inquiry could damage Labour before an election due by June, with the party trailing in opinion polls after 13 years in power.

EXAGGERATED INTELLIGENCE?

Critics have long argued that Blair promised Bush in April 2002 that Britain would support military action to get rid of Saddam, and then exaggerated intelligence about WMD.

"The only commitment I gave, and gave openly, was a commitment to deal with Saddam," he said. "If we tried the U.N. route and that failed, my view was it had to be dealt with."

Blair defended the war's legality, relying on the green light the government's top lawyer gave only days before the conflict, and said a second U.N. resolution had only been desirable from a political, not legal perspective.

But he admitted post-war planning had been flawed.

"The planning assumption that ... everybody made was that there would be a functioning civil service. Contrary to what we thought ... we found a completely broken system," he said.

"People did not think that al Qaeda and Iran would play the role that they did. It was the introduction of the external elements of AQ and Iran that really caused this mission very nearly to fail. Fortunately in the end it didn't."

Protesters, including relatives of some of the 179 British soldiers killed in Iraq, demonstrated outside the inquiry venue opposite parliament, accusing Blair of being a war criminal.

"He's a consummate politician and he spoke as a politician," said Roger Bacon, whose son Major Matthew Bacon was killed in Basra in 2005.

"When we do find ourselves in a situation where we have to go into conflict again, we are better prepared for it so I don't think it'll be a whitewash."




More...

The struggle to become a paid journalist
Dec. 6, 2011


At least 13 emergencies in first two months of Boris bikes
Nov. 23, 2010


11,000 drivers on Britain's roads with more than 12 points
Nov. 1, 2010


High-level diplomacy between British and Chinese governments on panda leasing
Oct. 25, 2010


Embassies owing £42m in Congestion Charge fines claim diplomatic immunity
Sept. 20, 2010


Protest the Pope
Sept. 18, 2010


£1.2m worth of equipment stolen from MOD
Sept. 10, 2010


An interview with Brian Cox
May. 10, 2010


33 crimes committed against Manchester students every day
May. 10, 2010


Crowds at the Union braced to ring in the changes
May. 10, 2010


‘Vote with your heart and make the difference’ – Nick Clegg
May. 3, 2010


Withington MP joins student pub crawl
May. 3, 2010


Labour fail to turn up at University hustings
May. 3, 2010


Students stranded abroad as summer term begins
Apr. 26, 2010


Celebrity endorsements and mudslinging in race for Manchester marginal
Apr. 26, 2010








© Girish Gupta