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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 11:10 GMT
No Iraq doubts from Blair
Analysis
By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News website

More defiant, unapologetic and convinced of his rightness than ever, Tony Blair has insisted he takes no responsibility whatever for the violence in Iraq.

Tony Blair
Mr Blair is as defiant as ever over Iraq

Talking to the BBC's John Humphrys, he denied any suggestion the "very grim" situation in that country was the result of a fatal lack of pre-war planning by himself and George Bush, or the decision to remove Saddam Hussein in the first place.

And, while appearing to accept he did often react to situations on the basis of the battle between good and evil, he rejected the suggestion he was involved in any sort of "crusade".

This was probably one of the most robust interviews on the war the prime minister has given and he displayed no hint of any self-doubt or readiness to give an inch to his critics.

Time and again he refused to apologise for the current situation in Iraq or accept claims the war had made the world and the UK more dangerous places.

Instead he repeated his insistence that it is the terrorists who are creating the violence and killing innocent people, and that they were operating around the globe long before the war or even 11 September.

No surprise

He again denied he had tailored intelligence to suit the policy before the war, or that he and the President had decided to go to war come what may, even before they pursued the UN route.

Baghdad bomb
Mr Blair insists violence is responsibility of terrorists
Now, none of this will have come as any great surprise to his supporters or his critics.

For the prime minister to accept culpability or apologise now would, in effect, be to admit the entire enterprise was, as former Tory foreign secretary Lord Hurd has described it, the worst foreign policy decision since the second world war.

And, as he nears his retirement, he is not about to go down that route.

But more than that, this interview showed Mr Blair is as certain now that the invasion of Iraq was right as he was at the time of the invasion.

His critics will see that as a form of denial from a man who is desperately hoping his decade in office will not be judged solely on the horrors in Iraq.

His supporters will claim he has again displayed the sort of principled, strong leadership needed to take the difficult decisions in the national and global interest.






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