The Times reports:
Tony Blair has admitted for the first time that he ignored the pleas of his aides and ministers to deter President Bush from waging war on Iraq because he believed that America was doing the right thing. And he has acknowledged that he turned down a last-ditch offer from Mr Bush to pull Britain out of the conflict.
He has also revealed that he wishes he had published the full reports from the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) instead of the infamous September dossier about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction that so damaged him, and was almost certainly one of the factors that contributed to him leaving office sooner than he wanted.
In frank remarks in a BBC documentary, Mr Blair confirmed openly the belief of many of his closest supporters that he never used his position as America’s strongest ally to try to force Mr Bush down the diplomatic rather than the military route.
It was never a “bargaining chip” for him and he was never looking for a way out, he told David Aaronovitch, of The Times, in interviews for The Blair Years. “It was what I believed in, and I still do believe it,” he said.
This rings true and I admire Tony Blair for it. I take the idle blogger's prerogative of quoting from my 2005 book Anti-Totalitarianism:
There is no question but that [Blair] damaged his political standing by committing troops to the Iraq war; had the war not taken place, we can reasonably assume that he would have enjoyed a substantial – and given its unprecedented character in Labour politics – triumphant third election victory. Many, probably almost all, Labour supporters would regard this as an indictment of the PM. I regard it as a measure of the man’s political stature. Knowing that the character of the international order had changed since the Cold War and not just since 9/11, Blair chose to ally himself with a nominally conservative US administration in a war that needed to be fought, when the policy of containment of Saddam Hussein had failed, and the toleration of autocratic states in the region was both an affront to our values and an emerging – though not an imminent – threat to our security.
This remains my view, and what Tony Blair said in The Times today reinforces my opinion of him. I am an immoderate Blairite.