British Prime Minister Tony Blair told US President George W Bush eight months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq “I will be with you, whatever”, and relied on flawed intelligence and legal advice to go to war, a seven-year inquiry concluded on Wednesday.
It strongly criticised Blair on a range of issues, saying the threat posed by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction had been over-hyped and the planning for the aftermath of war had been inadequate.
Blair responded that he had taken the decision to go to war “in good faith”, that he still believed it was better to remove Saddam, and that he did not see that action as the cause of terrorism today, in the Middle East or elsewhere.
“The intelligence assessments made at the time of going to war turned out to be wrong. The aftermath turned out to be more hostile, protracted and bloody than ever we imagined,” the former prime minister, looking gaunt and strained, told reporters.
The lesson from this is that a nasty dictator might be better than the turmoil that comes from removing him.
The 1991 war was absolutely justified as Saddam had invaded Kuwait. The 2003 war was based on the premise that Saddam had WMDs – something that turned out to be wrong.