- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 5, 2010

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he has regrets over his role in the Iraq war, but he stopped short of saying what he would have done differently and offered no apology.

“You would be inhuman if you didn’t regret the death of so many extraordinary, brave and committed soldiers, of civilians that have died in Iraq, or die still now in Afghanistan,” Mr. Blair told Christiane Amanpour in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” that was broadcast Sunday.

“And of course you feel an enormous responsibility for that, not just regret. And I say in [my] book the concept [of] responsibility for me has its present and future tense, not just its past tense.”

Mr. Blair, who has released a best-selling book, “A Journey,” said Western leaders were uncertain how pervasive and potentially dangerous the al Qaeda movement was in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“What I think we understand more clearly now is — and this is something I didn’t understand fully at the time of 9/11 — in a sense, at that point you think there were 3,000 people killed in the streets of New York in a single day. And I still think it’s important just to hold that thought in our mind, because I always say about this, the important thing is, if these people could have killed 30,000 or 300,000, they would have,” he said.

“That really changed the calculus of risk all together.”

Mr. Blair, a former Labor Party leader, said he doubted Saddam Hussein could have been contained through sanctions or other means in lieu of invading his country.

“If you analyze the resolutions on sanctions — and I was involved in all this — what actually happened was that they got watered down,” he said. “If we hadn’t taken out Saddam, there would have still been consequences. Now, what they are, we don’t know.”

When asked what how he would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Mr. Blair said, “I would tell them they can’t have it, and if necessary, they will be confronted with stronger sanctions and diplomacy.”

If diplomacy and sanctions with Iran fail, then “I’m not taking any options off the table,” he added.

“The primary objective has got to be to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.”


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