Blair says he is still troubled over his decision to invade Iraq

Published: Friday, January 30, 2009, 17:30 [IST]
 

London, Jan.30 (ANI): Former British Prime Minister and now Middle East envoy for the Quartet group of the US, UN, EU and Russia, Tony Blair, has revealed that he still agonizes over his decision to go to war against Iraq.

When he was asked whether he felt vindicated by his decision, Blair said: "I don't know. Nobody knows. But of course I reflect on it, and am troubled by it, and feel a great sense of responsibility for it".In the interview that is to be aired today, Blair also delivers his frankest remarks about his wife, Cherie, and his property portfolio.

Blair said that it was not nice to have people distrusting his motives or saying that he had lied "but the most difficult thing in any set of circumstances is the sense of responsibility for people who have given their lives and fallen - the soldiers and the civilians.

"If I did not feel that, there really would be something wrong with me, and there is not a single day of my life when I do not reflect upon it . . . many times. And that's as it should be," The Times quotes Blair, as saying."On the other hand you have to take the decision and I look at the Middle East now and I think, well, if Saddam and his two sons were still running Iraq how many other people would have died and would the region be more stable?"He admitted that he suffered from doubt over Iraq. "Of course you ask that question the whole time. You'd be weird if you didn't ask that question."

During the wide-ranging interview with The Times Magazine, in which he has given his detailed thoughts on the Middle East peace process, Blair compared President Obama to himself as a leader who is more interested in the practical than the ideological.

"I think there is a new generation of political leaders who find the very traditional pigeonholing rather redundant, actually. They have undergone this strange experience, certainly for me, but in a sense I think for Obama too, which is growing up with a Left politics that was the politics of ideology, and then as we've grown to political maturity and taken positions of power, we find that it's the Right that's got ideology," said Blair.

Blair revealed that he has met Obama several times since their first encounter when he was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"He was introduced to me then as someone who was very clever and a great prospect for the future."

He says he was moved deeply by Obama's speech on race.

"That was when I understood that he had real political depth and imagination because it was not an ordinary speech. It showed a complete understanding of why people might feel as they feel but that actually it is time to move on. The thing he does brilliantly is to explain why certain sentiments are inconsistent with the future and can be put to one side," said Blair.

The former Prime Minister, whose earnings have soared into the millions since he left Parliament, said that he did not feel guilty about having houses in London and the country, as well as his home in his former constituency of Sedgefield, now the base of the sports foundation. His place in the country was a "nice house but not a stately home". (ANI)

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