Alexa

Tony Blair fights for his legacy as he defends war

Tony Blair fights for his legacy as he defends war

He was right and he'd do it again.
That was Tony Blair's message Friday as he fought for his place in history against critics who contend it was folly to join the Americans in invading Iraq based on intelligence that was faulty and weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist. The highly anticipated testimony before an official inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq conflict provided both a reprise and a coda to the Blair years: The former prime minister showed his impressive rhetorical skills and high-minded principles, but left unanswered whether the war that defines his mixed legacy was justified.
Many in the audience, including the relatives of soldiers and civilians killed in the war, were not impressed. Blair's claim to have no regrets drew an angry outburst. As he left, one man stood up and shouted "You are a liar!" A second added: "And a murderer." The six-hour session Friday capped a wide-ranging inquiry that since November has heard extensive evidence from government lawyers and ministers who raised doubts about the legality and wisdom of the 2003 Iraq invasion, which was extremely unpopular in Britain.
The Iraq Inquiry panel plans to issue a report next year, but does not have a mandate to apportion blame or the power to bring any criminal charges. Many Britons blamed Blair for blindly following the Americans - he was dubbed "Bush's poodle" and accused of making a backroom deal with the U.S. president.
But while Blair showed signs of nerves during Friday's testimony - even nibbling on the wings of his spectacles at one point - he was unrepentant as he defended the decision to topple Saddam Hussein and warned that today's leaders face similar tough choices as they confront Iran over its nuclear program.