In a new CNN interview, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair admits that there were mistakes made in the Iraq war, but he still insists that taking out Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do.
The UK was the only major western power that sided with the Bush administration in the attack on Iraq. Like former Bush officials, Blair continues to push the narrative that intelligence about weapons of mass destruction was flawed. He tells interviewer Fareed Zakaria,
I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought.
Blair also says that he is sorry for the mistakes in planning the war, and what he calls “our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.”
In the U.S., Republicans love blaming the rise of ISIS on President Obama. Jeb Bush, for example, has said that ISIS came from the president’s failure to leave troops in place in Iraq. However, that ignores that U.S. troop withdrawals were completed under a status of forces agreement that Jeb’s brother signed.
Tony Blair says that the responsibility for ISIS lies at least in part with those who planned and executed the war. At the same time, he also challenges the claim that it was U.S. troop withdrawals that led to the organization’s rise to power, by pointing out that ISIS started in Syria, not in Iraq.
Of course, you can’t say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015. But it’s important also to realize, one, that the Arab Spring which began in 2011 would also have had its impact on Iraq today, and two, ISIS actually came to prominence from a base in Syria and not in Iraq.
Blair bristles at the implication that he is a war criminal for being part of the attack on Iraq. He says he did what he thought was right at the time. His apology comes in advance of the release of the s0-called “Chilcot Report” on the UK’s role in the Iraq war. That is an inquiry being conducted by Sir John Chilcot that is expected to be made public in the near future.
Here is a clip from Blair’s interview, via YouTube:
Featured image via CNN screen capture