British Prime Minister Tony Blair told U.S. 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, Reuters reports.
It strongly criticized 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 told reporters.
“For all of this, I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you will ever know.”
The only Labour prime minister to win three general elections, Blair was in office for 10 years until 2007 and was hugely popular in his heyday, but Iraq has severely tarnished his reputation and legacy.
Responding to questions from journalists, Mr Blair says passionately while gesticulating with his arms that some people talk “as if I don’t care about the loss of life”, according to BBC.
But he says: “I had to decide are more people going to suffer, are more people going to die if we leave this dictator in power.”
Asked whether he would apologise to the families of the British servicemen and women who lost their lives, Mr Blair says: “I can look the nation in the eye and say I did not mislead this country.. I made the decision in good faith on information I had at the time, and can say it is better we took the decision.”