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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Will Iraq apology make a difference?
Prime Minister Tony Blair during the weekly Question Time in the House of Commons
Tony Blair has apologised for intelligence errors over Iraq but dismissed claims he deceived anyone.

The prime minister also accused the Tories of "playing politics" on the issue and stated that the Lib Dems would have left Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq.

Mr Blair's comments follow the announcement of the official withdrawal of the claim that Saddam Hussein could use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

Will the Prime Minister's apology for intelligence errors make a difference? Does it draw a line under the debate over WMD? Send us your views.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

I don't think that apologising is really the issue here.
Tim, Manchester, UK
I don't think that apologising is really the issue here. Will it bring back the lives of British/American service men, or Iraqi civilians? Will an apology conjure up the WMD'S we went to war to find? The answer is a firm no to both. The controversy surrounding WMD'S is an open wound for this government, and no apology will make up for that. Produce the weapons or resign. Resign or face impeachment. Those are the only two feasible ways to end this farce.
Tim, Manchester, UK

I do not think Tony Blair should apologise, even though I think the war was a mistake. What's done is done, and it was instigated because (rightly or wrongly) the British Government saw Saddam as a genuine threat to his own people, and the rest of the world.
Annie, Lanarkshire, UK

I was against the war but after seeing that 40th mass grave with women and infants shot in the back of the head, I would like to apologise to Tony Blair. You were right to stop this evil man. We were all wrong. Thinking about it, Saddam did not have half the country supporting him with us supporting the other half. Other than his cronies, the only person to be supported by not going to war would have been Saddam. Why should everyone else suffer just for him?
Tim H, UK

It is not Tony Blair's fault that the intelligence turned out to be wrong
Chris, Berkshire, UK
It is not Tony Blair's fault that the intelligence turned out to be wrong, so it is silly for him to apologise for that. What he did wrong was to remove the many caveats and warnings around the validity of the intelligence and present it as comprehensive and credible, when clearly it was not. He gambled that the evidence was stronger than the intel people said, and lost. He should apologise for misleading Parliament and the country on the strength of the intelligence.
Chris, Berkshire, UK

An apology will not bring back the dead - the women and children who never ever mattered to Blair and Bush anyway. The rest of the world knew before the war, what Blair and Bush are admitting today - there was no WMD. Shame on you Tony Blair!
Austin Agho, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

Of course he should apologise but will he really mean it?
Claire, UK

As the skeletons of babies are dug up from a mass grave in Iraq, UK politicians have the audacity to demand an apology from Blair in what is so obviously a politically motivated move? Sometimes I feel so ashamed of my country.
Michael S, UK

The PM might also consider an apology to the wife of a certain UK weapons inspector, whose suicide over sexing up the evidence now seems rather relevant.
Bob Deverell, Bangkok Thailand

Whatever happened to integrity in politics?
Colin, Dunmow, UK
No he shouldn't apologise - he should be impeached. Whatever happened to integrity in politics? A UK Prime Minister tells parliament and the country why we must go to war, and then we find few if any of his stated reasons were true? Shame on the UK parliament for not enforcing accountability, and no wonder increasing numbers of people see politicians as untrustworthy.
Colin, Dunmow, UK

I really cannot understand what Blair & Straw can do here - an apology would produce the reaction 'an apology is all well and good, but it doesn't bring all those Iraqi civilians back to life' etc. Mass resignations would produce the reaction 'Mass resignations are all well and good but they don't bring all those Iraqi civilians back to life' etc. What's done is done, we should be concentrating less on holding people responsible and concentrate more on what can be done to make Iraq a better place.
Oliver, Swansea, UK

I don't recall the British, French or Spanish ever apologizing for their colonisation of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Why is this any different?
Michael, Luxembourg

The PM was in a no win situation
Steve, Norwich, England
What would have happened if Mr Blair had ignored the intelligence he had been given, not gone to war and it then turned out that the intelligence did prove to correct with Saddam using a biological weapon to kill thousands of people. Would his critics still say it was correct not to go into war? The PM was in a no win situation. His opponents should stop persecuting the man and respect him for the guts he showed in doing what he believed was right. History will eventually prove that he turns out to be our best leader since Churchill.
Steve, Norwich, England

Iraq had flouted 17 UN resolutions over years, Saddam Hussein was a despotic leader and, with the help of France and some others was flouting the sanctions. The basic problem underlying this issue is pretending that we have all inclusive government systems. It is absurd to have 'secret' services then debate their knowledge in public, so it all becomes a huge PR job. Therein lies the trouble and, whilst the principle behind going to war was correct, the government's management of the process was appalling.
Paul B, Oxford, UK

He should apologise, and immediately resign.
Kelson, London England

Tony Blair shouldn't apologise for acting on the best information he had at the time and doing the right thing. The world is a better place without Saddam. It would be more appropriate if John Major and George Bush senior apologised for not removing a dangerous dictator when they had the opportunity.
Matt, Maidstone, UK

This endless raking over the ashes is serving no purpose any more
Jason, UK
Would an apology stop the BBC printing endless stories that are all sub-texted "see Gilligan was right", if so yes he should apologise. It's easy for opposition party's to say they would have done differently, the fact is the Conservatives would in all likelihood have taken us to war earlier still. This endless raking over the ashes is serving no purpose any more, it certainly isn't improving the situation in Iraq any.
Jason, UK

While people argue about apologies over Iraq, mass graves are found containing the bodies of women and children. I don't hear any call for apology on their behalf. Perhaps the anti-war brigade would prefer that such atrocities had continued ?
J Galbraith, London UK

Yes. And Lord Hutton should apologise (and pay damages?) for putting the blame on the BBC. It is clear that the government was either amazingly stupid or amazingly dishonest all the way along.
Herbert, Leeds

After all the mass graves found of all the people murdered by Saddam Hussein, does it really matter why we went in? The Iraqi people now have a chance of having what we take for granted.
Geraint, Wales

I would like to see Blair resign over this but I'm not convinced the country would be better off in the hands of any other leader.
Phillip Grimshaw, Manchester, England

Our leaders are making themselves look more and more foolish
Tony B, UK
Because they refuse to acknowledge they were wrong, our leaders are making themselves look more and more foolish and less and less worthy of our votes. The justification for war was non-compliance with UN inspections and the "threat" of WMDs. But the Iraqis were complying, and there were no WMDs. So now Tony Blair prefers the "moral case" for getting rid of Saddam. But where were his morals when he said Saddam could stay in power if he complied with the UN? Where are his morals concerning other murderous regimes that are our "allies"? None of his reasons stand up, and he should stand down.
Tony B, UK

The argument for making an apology is misguided. After thinking seriously about this issue for some time I think that the whole world owes an apology to people who are persecuted and murdered everywhere by corrupt regimes and who do nothing about it. I believe that we now live in a global community and standards of justice should be universal. Each of us who have freedom and security are responsible to those who do not. When there is injustice of the magnitude as existed in Iraq especially then simply looking the other way for political or economic reasons is morally reprehensible. I would strongly prefer that the UN take responsibility and act more aggressively in the future versus the way things were handled in Iraq.
John, Bloomfield, New Jersey, USA

There is too much criticism of people doing their job from people who couldn't do it half as well
James Thorpe, Leeds, UK
What a nation of armchair experts we all are. Governments have to make decisions and this is often based on inaccurate information provided to them but then again it's not that easy to get accurate information on the likes of Iraq. Why should they apologise? Who says they misled people? There is too much criticism of people doing their job from people who couldn't do it half as well. If you don't like them vote accordingly. If you don't want to vote for the others get out the armchair and form an alternative.
James Thorpe, Leeds, UK

Even if there is a rational case for war (the ridding of a brutal dictator), people remain angry. Whether we are pro or anti war, the British public were effectively misled in a bid to sway our view on going to war. What should always be a last resort became something else as a result. Blair needs to apologise for this and more importantly we need to believe that he is sorry. What strikes me is that he has stalled on this issue for so long that any words he utters will be seen as a politician's attempt to move the news agenda on, to "draw a line under the whole affair". Of course he won't - if he did apologise that would make him 100% liable for the errors we have seen in establishing the new Iraq. It's much easier to hide behind the claim of "self-belief".
Nicholas, London, UK

An apology won't be much consolation to those Iraqi families who have lost loved ones, had their livelihoods destroyed, and had their children maimed by that "awesome firepower" in the war.
Paul, Newport

It's not the evidence they should be apologising for, it's the judgement.
Octavia, New Zealand
"Everybody believed Saddam had WMD" - well no, they didn't. Many countries looked at the evidence presented and decided it wasn't conclusive. Many countries wanted the weapons inspectors to continue doing their jobs. This canard going around that "everybody agreed on the evidence" is utter rubbish. Blair and Bush misjudged - that does not give me great hope for their ability to judge in the future. It's not the evidence they should be apologising for, it's the judgement.
Octavia, New Zealand

Apology is not enough and it is not the right word. Let's put it this way that this war was not to remove Saddam this war was to get control over the oil resources of Iraq after killing thousands of innocent people, if it was to remove Saddam why don't forces leave Iraq with immediate effect and make a care taking government. What ever Saddam did it in past, should not have been repeated again. Let's think this way, who created Saddam? Who made him strong and fully supported him in the war against Iran? It is time to be more realistic.
Adnan and Mo, Burton, UK

The Iraqis don't want an apology. They are thankful for 35 million liberated.
Jim Sherrill, United States

The prime Minister, in my view has nothing to apologise for, as not even the so called infamous UN Resolution 1414, contain these now so called caveats the PM is accused of omitting. I have to say, the way Tony Blair has been tried, especially on this issue has been operant, Sir Winston Churchill, has been rolling in his grave.

Seventy plus years ago, this was exactly it, where we are now, had he been PM in the 1930s' would had gone to war against Hitler, there by negating the second world war that eventual cost over 20 million lives. Perhaps, come to think of it, he was indeed lucky, lucky he wasn't in Downing St at the time, because at least now to most of his fellow country men, he is a hero not a liar or worse a war criminal. Thank You, Tony Blair for your leadership, in our ingratitude, we salute you, Prime Minister.
Godwin Imafidon, London, England

Tony Blair wished to listen to his friend George W. Bush about going to war against Iraq but paid no heed to the wishes of his own countrymen and now he his asking the same people who's pleas he ignored to put him in office for the third time, he must have a very short memory. In my opinion the real reason for Bush and Blair to wage a war against Iraq will never be known.
Khawjeh Ashanollah, Croydon, Surrey

I must commend the manner in which PM Blair has conducted himself amidst a growing angry, bitter and cynical society.
David Oseland, Chicago, IL
As one who has been in the media and news biz for 30+ years, and have seen a good many world leaders come and go, I must commend the manner in which PM Blair has conducted himself amidst a growing angry, bitter and cynical society. Friends in the UK, you've got a good man!
David Oseland, Chicago, IL

He is much braver than our wonderful President Bush. Bush will never admit that the war with Iraq was unjust. We should applaud Tony Blair for his honesty!
Nichole, San Diego, CA

No, the apology being sought is in relation to Tony Blair misleading the electorate! To shift the blame to the intelligence service is just typical of the man - he simply thinks his judgements are beyond reproach! nor does it draw a line under the WMD debate. WMDs' clearly did not exist when we went to war when he cited them as being the key reason for doing so. The core issue here is that - whatever party is in power - the Prime Ministers' honesty and trust should be beyond question. Tony Blair has simply failed this fundamental test. He should resign. Peter Hide.
Peter Hide, Aylesbury, England

It must be great to never ever be in the wrong. And if you give out incorrect facts, know that it's somebody else's fault. Like Tony Blair. Since when was Saddam in with Islamic terrorists? MI5 "intelligence" reports have found the connection between Ian Paisley and the IRA - sounds like a good reason for invading Ireland!
Reza, Belfast, N. Ireland

We should appreciate his apology. I think he is a brave politician!
Bekbasha, Zarvan, Turkey

UN sanctions and close monitoring of Saddam's activities would have allowed us to counter any threat
Kevin, Birmingham
I believe Tony Blair, the Government and Parliament made huge mistakes in going in to this war. UN sanctions and close monitoring of Saddam's activities would have allowed us to counter any threat Saddam posed before he attacked us. Tony Blair is basically a good man and acted to protect the UK, though he must see that the atrocities, both during (civilian casualties, young Ali with his arms blown off) and following from the war (Ken Bigley etc), have been a very high price to pay to eradicate a 'theoretical' threat. If anything this whole disastrous war will mean Tony Blair, nor any government in the near future, will embark on a war based on such thin evidence, In this sense I don't want Tony Blair to resign, as although he has made very bad decisions over Iraq, I believe he will not repeat such folly, and Labour are still the best party to govern the UK.
Kevin, Birmingham

Blair made a decision based on information believed to be correct at the time. If our politicians questioned every piece of information presented to them, no decisions would ever be made. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
Chris J, London UK

We went to war on the basis that within 45 minutes we could be attacked with weapons of mass destruction. This turned out to be wrong. Now it seems that the reason doesn't matter, because Iraq broke UN resolutions and that is reason enough. Does this now mean that we will be attacking Israel, since they have broken more UN resolutions than Iraq did?
Julian Scott, London

An apology? Pointless - politicians are never sorry. I have a much more important question. What will stop an "Iraq" happening again, somewhere else?
Pete, London, UK

He didn't come up with the intelligence so it's not his fault it was inaccurate
John, UK
Blair did what he thought was best with the intelligence he had. He didn't come up with the intelligence so it's not his fault it was inaccurate, therefore an apology is not required. Saddam Hussein has been removed from power which has justified the war as he was biding his time before starting a WMD programme.
John, UK

Blair and Bush took us to war on false information, what happened after that was pure luck, good or bad, depending on your point of view. This is not the way the developed world should behave. We need informed diplomacy from our leaders, not gut-instincts and moralistic cant.
Jay, Manchester, UK

Why can't anyone be honest and stand up and say "We invaded Iraq because somebody's dad missed the opportunity the first time round"? Iraq to me is an act of revenge for a parent with a certain Prime Minister doing anything to please the US President because he was banking on Al Gore to win.
Neil Small, Scotland

Oh don't worry "Teflon" Blair does it again, Let's all "move on" and "draw a line under the issue". Yet we still forgive, what short memories we all have.
Jon, London

The damage has already been done
Peter, Evesham
Yes, though it's too late now though - the damage has already been done, you have made your place in history Mr Blair - for all the WRONG reasons.
Peter, Evesham

Yes, an apology in itself is worthless. But the implications - as the government and opposition parties know full well - are hugely significant. If waging war on Iraq was not wrong "even with hindsight" then we have a de facto change of policy. The bar is set much lower for the hawks. Unilateral decisions, regime changing, invasions and even occupations are all slightly more acceptable. Is this what we want?
Adam Sobot, Lewes, UK

If Blair honestly believes that they still made the correct decision, we should all be asking ourselves whether this is the man and the party that we want leading our country. What will their next blunder be?
Simon McLean, Birmingham, UK

Would it really make any difference and does it really matter? The only people who will gain anything are his political opponents, who will gain a bit more 'ammunition' to throw.
Andrew Moore, Wednesbury, England

The war was illegal under international law
Rob C, London, UK
Apologise? That is the least of it. I still cannot believe Blair has the gall to remain in office. Add to this the fact that he is to reward around 50 civil servants for colluding in this war for oil - this is indicative of the moral bankruptcy of the man. The war was illegal under international law. Full stop. He should use the occasion to announce his resignation.
Rob C, London, UK

In the light of the discovery of yet another Saddam killing field, full of the murdered remains of women and babies, the only person who should reasonably be saying sorry is Saddam.
Dave M, Tonopah Nevada, USA

The removal of Saddam Hussein was essential in maintaining global stability. However, if we go down the apology route then where do we stop?
Patrick V. Staton, Guildford, UK

I believe that there exists such bitterness and utter contempt towards Tony Blair for the way in which this information was portrayed to us that he is now part of the problem. Until he resigns I am unable to move on and fully support the resolution of this disastrous mess that he has created.
Ian Cocks, Portsmouth

If the government mishandled intelligence they must acknowledge it
Martin Jameson, Stockport
An apology is only the first stage. If the government mishandled intelligence they must acknowledge it - but the key issue is what has been learned. Are there any mechanisms in place to stop intelligence being misinterpreted and misused in the future? Because whether you think the end result was justified or not - going to war on incorrect, or incorrectly interpreted intelligence must never happen again.
Martin Jameson, Stockport

It's easy to apologise after the event. If "removing Saddam from power" now emerges as the justified reason for the invasion, how come that was never the subject of an attempted UN resolution instead of all the WMD arguments? That might just have got a genuine international backing.
Rory, Ireland

War reparations are needed not hollow words
John, Alaska, USA
War is never right. It is rather the last resort when all else fails. The premise to go to war that there were WMDs was false and so going to war was bad intelligence and bad judgement. The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was prior to invading Iraq. We do not know what the future holds. We do know that our leaders failed and sent our soldiers into harms way which was not necessary. Therefore, these misinformed leaders should resign. War reparations are needed not hollow words.
John, Alaska, USA

Whilst going to war was a clear misjudgement, an apology would now only further spur on the Iraqi rebels. Once the situation in Iraq has stabilised, Blair and Bush should consider apologising.
Dominique Santander, Tourtour, France

Isn't it ironic that, in light of the news of missing nuclear materials, there are potentially more WMD in Iraq now than at the time of the 45 minute claim. When will this government start treating the electorate with the respect they are due?
Steve Glenister, London

Sorry does not bring the dead back, from both sides.
Ahmad, London

The leaders of the free world acted on the best information they had available
Penny, USA
I think the media needs to move on. The leaders of the free world acted on the best information they had available. Intelligence has never been perfect and never will be; that's the nature of intelligence. Our soldiers are doing a fine job in Iraq but one never hears about that. Let me guess, hmmmmm it must be bad news that sells newspapers.
Penny, USA

Blair, Hewitt and now Straw, all giving a half apology. Clever stuff. If enough ministers take part they are hoping it will all go away before the next election. I think not.
T. Newman, Bournemouth UK

Apologies do not make any difference now. The justification has been made based on faulty intelligence. To top it further, the reason for going to war has been changed subsequently - shamelessly - as recent as President Bush's insistence that Saddam had the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction. The damage is beyond repair.
Mouli Narayanan, Portland, Oregon, USA

Would it restore peace and prosperity in Iraq?
Awaz, USA
Would an apology bring back innocent Iraqi lives lost in the war? Would it restore peace and prosperity in Iraq? If so, then it should be done. Iraq deserves much more than an apology, the people of Iraq are living their lives in terror, there is chaos every where, and their daily lives very much disturbed. It is no-one's business to take over some one else's land, especially without a plan.
Awaz, USA

This apology will serve no purpose. Those who (wrongly) believe that the war was justified will argue semantics and the importance of removing Saddam. Those who oppose the war surely can say that the apology doesn't bring back lives. The war was illegitimate, everybody knows that, especially now. The issue is what to do with the politicians who have lied to us.
Jean-Claude, Baltimore, USA

Apology? I think mass resignations are more in order. Let's face it wars cost lives and money. More importantly they rarely turn out as planned. Only a fool would lead his or her country into a war on the basis of a half truth.
Gary Burrows, Manchester, UK

Blair and Straw will do anything to protect their jobs even to the extent of treating the British public like idiots.
Colin Bridger, Camberley

Apologies and admissions of mistakes are not acceptable
Tony, USA
When an endeavour such as sending a country to war is undertaken the facts have to be accurate. There is no excuse for sending troops into battle without accurate facts. Apologies and admissions of mistakes are not acceptable and will not bring back soldiers who were killed or mend injured soldiers. The people of countries put their faith in their government and when they betray that faith the country and its citizens suffer.
Tony, USA

Now let's see. You work off of the best information available and make a decision. Then it turns out some of the information was not exactly correct. This requires an apology? One apologises for doing something wrong. Making a decision based on the best information available is not doing something wrong.
Joe Biernacki, Houston, USA

To apologise, is to imply that the war was wrong. As I remember the events, WMD was just one factor in the decision to go to war. Ousting Hussein was another. Freedom for the Iraqi people was the third component. It seems to me that an apology would be a moot point.
Angel, Portland Or, USA

The real agenda behind this military action was for regime change in Iraq
Daniel Curwood, Annesley Woodhouse, UK
I could see this apology coming a long time before Straw had even said it. There was no way that Iraq would have had the capability to dispatch WMDs in 45 minutes to its neighbouring countries. I believe that the last of his regime's stockpiles of WMD were disposed of by allied forces during the first Gulf War. Since then the UN's inspection teams had been around his military sites like hawks. So no, Straw's apology doesn't make any difference to me. As far as I'm concerned the real agenda behind this military action was for regime change in Iraq with the other objective of preventing a future potential threat from his regime.
Daniel Curwood, Annesley Woodhouse, UK

The apology does make a difference since Iraq is the hottest foreign policy topic today that has polarised different groups in the world. Unfortunately, Mr Straw's apology, much like the US, resembles more of a non-apology, claiming the "right" thing was done.
Lawrence Wan, New York

Not at all. We now know there was no basis for us for going to war but the government still insists that they did the right thing. Surely this means they could invade any other country that they disliked without needing any reason, like in Iraq.
Peter, Northampton

Is war for the sake of war a good thing now?
Jim, NJ, USA
This flawed logic is used by Bush and his supporters in the States too. What does it mean that the war was right even though the assumptions behind it were wrong? Is war for the sake of war a good thing now? Many people have died. Several countries have committed large parts of their budget to rebuilding Iraq. I don't understand how anyone could justify making these sacrifices based on flawed information. The only logical explanation for such an attitude is that those who started this war knew the whole time that the weapons charges were false and they have yet to reveal their true motivations.
Jim, NJ, USA

How can sorry ever make up for taking a country to war, how can sorry ever bring back those lost in the fighting, how can sorry mends those bodies broken during and since the fighting? How can sorry justify the economic cost of a war that should never have been waged? Those of us who opposed the war before it ever started would say that sorry does not, and can never cut it.
Lynda, Leicester

Even if, as is possible, a democracy is established in Iraq, a line will never be drawn under the debate for those who have invested their entire political capital in using the war to unseat Blair. Opinion polls seem to show, however, that most people are now ready to 'move on' - at least in terms of what will most affect their vote at the next election, which is presumably what concerns Mr Straw.
Charlie, Bristol, UK

Will an apology for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and maiming of many more due to the war, be sufficient? Is Iraq safer and better off after Saddam? These are questions to which answers are due, not only to the British public but importantly, to the people of Iraq. It is a sad experience, all told, of not seeing the 'wood from the trees'.
Saravan, UK

One good thing came from the war, the removal of Saddam Hussein, but at what price? Iraq posed no threat at the time to the West but now it does.
Emma, Essex

It doesn't make a difference whether an apology happens or not. We were misled and that's the end of it.
Clive Persich, Sittingbourne, Kent, Britain

It does not draw a line under the debate over WMD. Until we see politicians having to accept responsibility for their actions we can have no trust or respect for them. It is not possible to overstate the enormous, detrimental impact upon lives and stability this "war" has had. Quite simply, virtually nobody believes the justifications offered by any of the leaders any longer.
Christopher Lamb, Edinburgh, Scotland

I don't think it will make much difference to those British soldiers killed and their relatives. To state that some intelligence was flawed is quite unbelievable, when clearly it was not the intelligence at fault. How many more soldiers will die based on their lies?
Tony, UK


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