Editor’s Note: Hindsight is 20/20. Invading Iraq seemed like a good idea to many, as did pulling out eventually. Though scrutinizing former leaders is a fruitless waste of time, current leadership should not be exempt from critique.
Tony Blair last night attacked ‘bizarre’ claims that his decision to go to war with Iraq in 2003 caused the current wave of violence in the country – and blamed everyone but himself for the crisis.
The former Prime Minister insisted he was right to topple Saddam Hussein with the US and said things would have been worse if the dictator had not been ousted from power a decade ago.
Mr Blair ended a week-long silence after mounting claims by diplomats and Labour MPs that his and Mr Bush’s handling of the Iraq War sowed the seeds of the attempt by the Al Qaeda-backed ISIS terror group to conquer Iraq. In a 2,800-word ‘essay’ on the new Middle East conflagration, Mr Blair refused to apologise and argued:
- Barack Obama ordered US troops to leave Iraq too soon.
- Britain and America must launch renewed military attacks in Iraq and Syria.
- Al Qaeda was ‘beaten’ in Iraq thanks to the Blair-Bush war, but the bungling Iraqi government let them back in.
Defiant Mr Blair said he was determined to reply ‘forcefully’ to ‘inevitable’ claims about his record in Iraq following the rapid advance of ISIS.
‘I understand, following Afghanistan and Iraq, why public opinion was so hostile to involvement.
‘But every time we put off action, the action we will be forced to take will ultimately be greater. Instead of re-running the debate over Iraq from 11 years ago, we have to realise that whatever we had done or not done, we would be facing a big challenge today.
‘It is bizarre to claim that, but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis. We have to re-think our strategy towards Syria and support the Iraqi government in beating back the insurgency.
‘Extremist groups, whether in Syria or Iraq, should be targeted. However unpalatable this may seem, the alternative is worse.’