Former British PM Tony Blair has said he accepts full responsibility for the decision to go to war in Iraq. A seven-year inquiry into the UK’s involvement concluded that London failed to exhaust all peaceful options.
Justifying his decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday the world was a safer place because of the military action.
In 2002, Blair told former US President George W. Bush that he would support him in the run-up to the invasion.
In a press conference in London on Wednesday, Blair admitted that it was the “most agonizing decision” he took as UK prime minister, but denied that the Iraq invasion triggered today’s terrorism.
He insisted that former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was at the time a threat to world peace and was acting against his own people.
“I had to decide. I thought of Saddam, his record and the character of his regime… and took decision with the heaviest of hearts,” Blair argued, adding that at least Iraq had an elected and legitimate government now, which had been fighting terrorism with the support of international community.
“There was no middle way. The decision had to be taken… and it was mine to take,” he said, adding that the public sentiment in the West after 9/11 was against terrorists.
Iraq war ‘based on flawed intel’
Earlier on Wednesday, the UK’s Iraq Inquiry Chairman John Chilcot, a retired civil servant, said Britain’s decision to go to war in Iraq was “based on flawed intelligence” during the release of the committee’s long-awaited report on the Iraq War.
“We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort,” Chilcot said.
In 2003, British forces joined the US invasion of Iraq, which eventually led to the capture of the late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Prior to the invasion, London had joined Washington in alleging an “imminent threat” from weapons of mass destruction. However, the inquiry found Hussein posed “no imminent threat.”
shs/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)