He made some very good points.
“This isn’t about a lie, or a conspiracy, or a deceit, or a deception, this is a decision,” said Blair, who initially looked nervous but grew more confident as the hearing went on.
A decision with far wider consequences than any taken by those (sometimes literally) screaming for his head.
“And the decision I had to take was, given Saddam’s history, given his use of chemical weapons, given the over 1 million people whose deaths he caused, given 10 years of breaking UN resolutions, could we take the risk of this man reconstituting his weapons programme?
“I believed … that we were right not to run that risk,” added Blair, saying he was convinced even now that Saddam was intent on restarting his WMD programme even though no such weapons have ever been found.
People forget that Iraq was under strict sanctions, no fly zones etc. Yes, it seems now that Saddam’s WMD programs were almost completely defunct. However that ignores the question of what would happen if the sanctions were lifted. Continueing the sanctions wasn’t an option either, since Saddam was using them to starve the population to gain PR points. Sooner or later something had to be done.
No evidence has emerged to link Iraq with 9/11, but Blair said the attacks on the United States had changed the “calculus of risk.”
“Up to September 11, we thought he (Saddam) was a risk but we thought it was worth trying to contain it,” Blair said.
“The point about this act in New York was that had they been able to kill even more people than those 3000, they would have. And so after that time, my view was you could not take risks with this issue at all.”
The al Qaeda strikes against US cities had transformed the global security picture, raising the risk that militants could kill even more people if weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from a rogue state were to fall into their hands, Blair said on Friday (Saturday morning NZ time).
Blair would have been much more worried about facing another sort of inquiry as he made that decision. I’m sure he’s a lot more comfortable facing this one, than one discussing why Saddam was allowed to re-arm and attack the west.