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Tony Blair’s Feisty Defense of His Iraq War Policy

The former prime minister didn't give his critics an inch in testimony before a special Iraq war inquiry in Great Britain.

by
Andrew Ian Dodge

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February 10, 2010 - 12:00 am
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Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has popped back up on everyone’s radar on both sides of the Atlantic. Rather than be cowed by the current Iraq war inquiry in Great Britain, he seems to be relishing the thought of defending himself and his time at  10 Downing Street. Not only has he done a press blitz showing his side of the argument in the UK, but he recently taped an interview for Mike Huckabee’s television program on Fox News. From a Reuters report:

Blair appeared somber as he began his scheduled six hours of testimony. He grew feistier as the day went on, gesturing, smiling and, at times, correcting what he saw as the flawed questions of panel members. The audience in the hearing room included family members of soldiers and civilians killed or missing in Iraq — all of whom sat quietly as he testified.

Like our own Bill Clinton, Tony Blair has a Teflon quality to him. Whether its bailing on his prime ministership with perfect timing so as not to get blamed for Britain’s economic turn for the worse, or keeping his rival Gordon Brown in the chancellor job while PM to spread responsibility, Blair has a Clintonesque sense of timing. (He also shares another distinction with Clinton: his wife is widely loathed in many circles. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Cherie Blair does not seem to have any political ambitions, preferring to use the law to change things.)

Despite what his rivals to the left in the Labour Party and his Conservative foes might wish, he is still very well regarded.

Unlike in the U.S., where President Bush clearly made the case for regime change, Blair focused on finding and destroying Saddam’s WMD capability.

The Guardian quotes Blair as failing to see a distinction between the two approaches:

He suggested that there was no real difference between wanting regime change and wanting Iraq to disarm: regime change was US policy because Iraq was in breach of its UN obligations. “It’s more a different way of expressing the same proposition.”

Not that Blair cares one way or the other. He has strongly defended his actions on Iraq, even in the face of scrutiny in an official government inquiry on the reasons for going to war. He made this very clear during his heated appearance:

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