Fern Britton: Blair on invading Iraq if it had NO WMDs – yes but, no but …

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    Ban Blair-Baiting


    12th December, 2009

    Blair ‘would have gone to war without Iraqi WMD’

    We won’t see Fern Britton’s interview with Tony Blair until Sunday, but …

    Asked by Britton if he would still have gone on had he known there were no weapons of mass destruction, he said: “I would still have thought it right to remove him.”

    So, already the commenters at The Times – the WE ALL KNOWERS – are coming up with this tripe:

    jayil london wrote:

    “Blair ‘would have gone to war without Iraqi WMD’”

    This is big! there is no reason why he shouldn’t be jailed now. Justice for the dead Iraqi people and U.K soldiers.

    Er, no, jayil london.

    This is NOT big. Expressing his WISH or DESIRE to see a dictator overthrown, and actually being mandated to DO it, are two different things altogether. We will have to await the full interview to see what else Mr Blair said on defeating Saddam.

    But from THIS excerpt, Mr Blair said – (just to remind the hard of understanding):

    “I would still have thought it right to remove him.”

    Mr Blair might have “gone on”, as the phrase indicates he was asked, but it’s all in the meaning of “gone on”. With a reason other than WMDs, would he have got parliament’s permission to go on?

    [Btw, he never used the words “gone on”, surprise, surprise! Britton did.]

    So, the answer you are searching for is (probably) “No”, he wouldn’t have “gone on”. America would just have had to manage without us. I suppose they’d have struggled by.

    But if in this alter-universe his answer were actually “Yes”, (under parliament’s say-so) he’d have been in the same position as he is now: detested by those who are anti-war and anti-Blair. But still right. Nothing new there then.

    So, tough luck, jayil london. No prison bars for Tony Blair.

    The Guardian too twists and squeezes the former PM’s words with good ol’ journalistic licence

    Tony Blair told Fern Britton, in an interview to be broadcast on BBC1, that he would have found a way to justify the Iraq invasion. Photograph: BBC

    ‘Tony Blair admits: I would have invaded Iraq anyway’

    DID HE? Yes but, no but … all over again.

    He is not QUOTED AS SAYING THOSE WORDS, as far as this (and the Times) article shows. But of course what he says and what he meant are two different things.

    Except they’re not.

    Excerpt, Guardian (my bolding):

    Tony Blair has said he would have invaded Iraq even without evidence of weapons of mass destruction and would have found a way to justify the war to parliament and the public.

    The former prime minister made the confession during an interview with Fern Britton, to be broadcast on Sunday on BBC1, in which he said he would still have thought it right to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

    “If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?” Blair was asked. He replied: “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”.

    Significantly, Blair added: “I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat.”

    WMD were not vital for war says ex-PM ahead of appearance at Chilcot inquiry

    The BBC, which will broadcast the interview on Sunday at 10:00am, has a far more accurate account of Blair’ s words. They simply quote him. Now THAT’S more like it! How novel.

    BBC: Removal of Saddam Hussein ‘right’, says Tony Blair

    It would have been “right to remove” Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein even without evidence that he had weapons of mass destruction, Tony Blair has said.

    The former prime minister said it was the “notion of him as a threat to the region” which had tilted him in favour of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    Without WMD claims it would have been necessary to “use and deploy different arguments,” he told the BBC.

    Speaking on BBC One’s Fern Britton Meets programme, Mr Blair was asked whether he would still have gone on with invasion plans had he known at the time that there were no WMDs.

    He said: “I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat.”

    He added: “I can’t really think we’d be better with him and his two sons still in charge, but it’s incredibly difficult and I totally understand…

    “That’s why I sympathise with the people who were against [the war] for perfectly good reasons and are against it now, but for me, you know, in the end I had to take the decision.”

    Asked whether it was the idea of Saddam having WMDs which had tilted him in favour of war, Mr Blair said it was “the notion of him as a threat to the region of which the development of WMDs was obviously one” aspect.


    There is nothing Mr Blair is likely to say in this interview that he hasn’t said over the last 10 or 11 years.

    The ‘star’ (for some) of the present Iraq Inquiry, Christopher Meyer, also held Mr Blair’s views on Saddam – in his own words. Is it now to be “war criminal” Meyer as well as Blair?

    See Blair’s Doctrine of International Community 24th April, 1999


    “Have the difficulties of the past decade simply been the aftershocks of the end of the Cold War? Will things soon settle down, or does it represent a pattern that will extend into the future?

    Many of our problems have been caused by two dangerous and ruthless men – Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. Both have been prepared to wage vicious campaigns against sections of their own community. As a result of these destructive policies both have brought calamity on their own peoples. Instead of enjoying its oil wealth Iraq has been reduced to poverty, with political life stultified through fear.”

    And in February 2003:

    TONY Blair yesterday condemned calls to give Saddam Hussein more time to disarm as “folly and weakness”.

    He also warned that delaying action now would lead to a “more bloody” conflict in the future.

    The Prime Minister described the demand by France, Germany and Russia to give UN inspectors more time as “absurd”.

    He told MPs: “This is not the road to peace but folly and weakness that will only mean the conflict, when it comes, is more bloody, less certain and greater in its devastation.”

    Times article follows:

    Blair ‘would have gone to war without Iraqi WMD’

    Times – Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent, and David Brown

    Tony Blair would still have led the country to war in Iraq even if he had known that it had no weapons of mass destruction.

    The former Prime Minister has confessed that he would have had to use different arguments to justify toppling Saddam Hussein. But he says in an interview to be broadcast tomorrow morning that he would still have taken steps to remove the Iraqi dictator from power.

    He also put the decision to go to war in Iraq in the context of a wider battle over Islam. He said: “I happen to think that there is a major struggle going on all over the world, really, which is about Islam and what is happening within Islam.” He said that this struggle had a “long way to go”.

    At the time of the conflict Mr Blair, who is to be questioned by the Iraq inquiry early next year, based his decision to go to war on evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    He gives an indication of his motives in an interview with the former daytime host Fern Britton, to be screened on BBC One. Mr Blair, who converted to Roman Catholicism when he left office two and a half years ago, denied that his religious faith played a direct part in his decision to go to war. But his faith gave him the strength to hold to the decision and supported him during “the loneliness of decision-maker”.

    He said it was the “threat” that Saddam presented to the region that was uppermost in his mind. The development of weapons of mass destruction was one aspect of that threat.

    Mr Blair said that there had been 12 years of the United Nations going “to and fro” on the subject, and he noted that Saddam had used chemical weapons on his own people.

    Asked by Britton if he would still have gone on had he known there were no weapons of mass destruction, he said: “I would still have thought it right to remove him.”

    Parents of some of the servicemen who have died have refused to shake his hand and accused him of being a war criminal with blood on his hands.

    Mr Blair said that he was prepared to carry that responsibility. “There’s no point in going into a situation of conflict and not understanding there is going to be a price paid.”

    The former Prime Minister, who now spends much of his time in the Middle East, working as an envoy for the Quartet of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU, said that it was difficult to judge yet whether the decision to go to war had been helpful or not.

    This week the head of MI6 said that Saddam’s Iraq was one of a number of countries where Britain would have liked regime change. Sir John Sawers, who was at the time Mr Blair’s private secretary for foreign affairs, told the Iraq inquiry that discussions had taken place in 2001 — two years before the invasion — on “political” actions that could help to undermine the Baathist regime.

    However, Sir John insisted that there had been no talk at that stage in Whitehall of military action in Iraq. He said that the approach adopted was based on the methods that had led to the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia. Among the proposals considered was support for opposition groups and indicting Saddam for war crimes that he had committed during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

    “I think there are a lot of countries around the world where we would like to see a change of regime. That doesn’t mean one pursues active policies in that direction,” he said.

    It was claimed last night that Mr Blair misled MPs by insisting that Britain was at risk from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction before ordering the invasion. A senior Conservative MP said that evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war this week proved that the former Prime Minister was aware that new intelligence had established Saddam had no workable WMD missiles.

    Sir John Scarlett, the head of the committee that oversaw intelligence in the build-up to the invasion in March 2003, told the inquiry that reports that Saddam did not have warheads capable of dispersing chemical weapons started at the end of 2002.

    An intelligence update on March 10 — eight days before the crucial vote by MPs in favour of the war — reported that Iraq had “no missiles which could reach Israel and none which could carry germ or biological weapons”. All the intelligence reports went directly to the Prime Minister, Sir John said.

    Richard Ottaway, a member of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, said that the evidence revealed that Mr Blair had repeatedly misled MPs. Mr Blair had described in detail the scale of Iraq’s armoury and said that Britain could not afford to back down in the face of the “clear and present danger” to national security posed by development of weapons of mass destruction. Inspections after the war revealed no evidence of workable chemical or biological weapons.

    Sir John is due to be questioned again by the inquiry in private to avoid damaging national security.

    Mr Blair is expected to give evidence next month or in early February.


    1. See John Rentoul on the press’s angle: “Important word, not”

    2. The Daily MAUL asks this significantly presumptious and wrong-headed question of Blair:

    Will he ever own up to misleading us about Iraq?

    Presbyterian U.S. Defence Secretary Robert McNamara, then 87, did about the Vietnam War.

    Tearfully he said in The Fog of War, a gripping, redemptive 2003 film: ‘What makes us omniscient? . . . If we can’t persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we’d better re-examine our reasoning.’

    Right on – the Daily Maul. Since 21/22 of 24 European countries joined us in our alliance against Saddam, and as the Conservative party TOO supported it, hadn’t WE better examine our motives?

    3. MI6 Boss at Iraq Inquiry: Blair talked of undermining Saddam in 2001 – but no regime change policy.

    4. Telegraph report:

    At a memorial service in St Paul’s Cathedral in October to honour British military and civilian personnel who served in Iraq, Mr Blair offered his hand to Peter Brierley, whose son, Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, was killed in 2003. Mr Brierley told him: “I’m not shaking your hand, you’ve got blood on it.”

    Asked if the anger of parents like Mr Brierley was “the cross you will always have to bear”, Mr Blair said: “Let’s be clear, it’s worse for them. They have lost their child and it’s very sad. If you have lost your loved one but you think you have lost them in a cause that’s not worth it, that makes it worse.”

    Being held responsible for soldiers’ deaths is “the responsibility you carry” as Prime Minister. “But you have got to carry it, I’m afraid, because there is no point in going into a situation of conflict and not understanding there is going to be a price paid.

    “Now, it’s also important to understand that many of those who are in the Armed Forces, including those who have lost their loved ones in Afghanistan or in Iraq, also are very often proud of what their child has done and proud of the cause they fought in…. You know, there are parents who feel very, very deeply angry and resentful and believe that the war was not worth it, but there are also those others who don’t want to feel that their view is ignored.”


    IRAQ Inquiry Reports at Julie’s Think Tank – Day 9, Chaplin, Cross, Bowen, and  Day 10, Chakrabarti, Chilcott, Scarlett, Burridge and Brims, and Day 12, Sawers

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    15 Responses to “Fern Britton: Blair on invading Iraq if it had NO WMDs – yes but, no but …”

    1. Stan Says:

      Well done, KTBFPM for picking this up so quickly.

      As you say (and it’s so typical of the media these days) there’s a world of difference between the headlines and what is actually said . To say I think it would have been right to remove Saddam regardless of WMD is no more shameful than saying I think it would have been right to remove Hiltler regardless of whether he had invaded Poland. There’s a huge difference between what you think is right and what is possible in terms of public opinion,, diplomatic and legal considerations.

      Fortunately Saddam gave us good diplomatic and legal reasons to get rid of him, by not complying with those UN resolutions. If he hadn’t Blair was simply saying he would have MADE THE ARGUMENTS on other grounds (probably humanitarian). But that’s not to say he would have gone in regardless as the ferals are screaming. The spin they are putting on it (including our supposedly impartial BBC) is quite incredible.

      The terrible thing is that this lie has gone round the world several times before the truth has time to put its boots on (almost literally in our case, as our reactions are being written first thing this morning).

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        OK, Stan – it has something to do with my attempt to stretch the hours in every day, I suppose. I mentioned this here to John Rentoul, who has also covered this “story” and the press’s angle on it.

        Important word, not.

        I know you are constantly on the BBC’s impartiality tail, and good for you. But compared to the print media, they were at least more accurate in their reporting of this by way of their headlines. Imho.

        I still think that Mr Blair has some task on to come out of his questioning at the Iraq Inquiry in the near future without being torn apart AGAIN by the agenda’d … I mean the press.

    2. First Amendment Says:

      The man is a devious, deceitful, lying warmongering cretin.

      But he has nothing on Alistair Campbell and his hateful spite against the BBC and Dr Kelly. “F**k Gilligan” ?

      No, let us f**k Tony, the way he f**ked over 100, 000 innocent Iraqis.

    3. keeptonyblairforpm Says:

      P.S. to Stan – And now we have BLIX “blixing it”.

      ‘Former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has said he thinks Tony Blair saw WMD as a convenient justification for invasion of Iraq.

      He said Mr Blair’s suggestion that he would have found another argument for invading “sounds a bit like a fig leaf that was held up – and if the fig leaf had not been there, then they would have tried to put another fig leaf there”. ‘

      Who the hell does Blix think he is? A political decider?


    4. Stan Says:

      First Amendment, spiteful hate is a description that fits your ranting comment exactly.
      Have you tried therapy? I’m told it helps.

      As for Blix, I’ve always thought that it’s best to get your man on a charge that sticks rather than one that doesn’t. And this particular man was one of the most obnoxious criminals ever. Tony Blair deserves our eternal gratitude for finding a lawful way of removing him while he and the effete anti-war brigade were relying on the niceties of law to keep him in power.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:


        Interesting when someone calls themselves “First Amendment” (OK, I can talk about odd aliases … I know, I know) and then goes on to imply that Saddam was an all right kind of a democrat.

        Today people in Iraq (more or less and improving all the time) now have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition.

        Just like us.

        Saddam was a good guy, no?



        Btw, FA, noticed WHO exactly has been killing Iraqis since the war ended a month after it started? For the last six years and more? Iraqis/Iranians/Saudis/Pakistanis/Lebanese … and probably a lot more from the region.

        All pure “First Amendment” followers, I’m sure.

        Know your enemy. It ain’t Tony Blair.

    5. The CONservatives on Blair – Iraq – Saddam – WMDs « Tony Blair Says:

      […] what I was saying earlier at this blog. Mr Blair did NOT say he would have “gone to war” since he wanted, not needed (Royal […]

    6. Paul Smith Says:

      Never in my life have I read such sycophantic inocherent apologies for the frankly indefensible. Shameless semantics and word play of this kind represent a wriggling attempt to defend what is a diplomatic balls up of the highest order. It is also an affront to every single person who was affected in any way by the Iraq War.
      And just to clarify, some unelected armchair wannabe politician saying “it is like me saying it would be right to remove Hitler before he invaded Poland” has no relevance to this issue at all. That is absolutely NOT the same thing. Blair was in a position to do exactly what he said, a guy drinking a cup of Coffee reading a WW2 book and deciding with 70 years of hindsight he would have liked to remove Hitler is irrelevant. We either have to accept that Blair would not attempt to do what he thought was right (which is just inconceivably ridiculous) or that Blair is just a liar who says whatever suits him in the moment (like when he said Saddam could stay in power if he handed over his imaginary WMDs).
      He refers to using and deploying different arguments – what would they be? Seeing as the argument that was chosen as supposedly the strongest one turned out to be completely fabricated. Perhaps he really is deluded enough to think that the “I dont like Saddam” argument justifies his removal? It is laughable. Blair ignored the will of the country that elected him, sidled up to the worst US president in history because they shared “faith” and flouted international law set down in the Nuremburg Principles and UN Charter. His arrogance is astounding, and the defences of his “Ill do what I want” attitude pathetic. He belongs at the Hague where he should be tried against international law – or are we to understand from this idiotic web page that he is above that law too? Saddam wasnt!

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        To Mr Smith. You said:

        Never in my life have I read such sycophantic inocherent apologies for the frankly indefensible.

        Led a narrow life, have you?

        The Guardian, Independent and many worthies of the Left anti-Blair/anti-Iraq war brigade write all sorts of “sycophantic incoherent apologies for the frankly indefensible.”

        Hereafter shortened to SIAFIs.

        They write SIAFIs on Islamists who are basically only upset because the west bombed them. (Nothing to do with the Islamist vow to their “God” that all non-believers should and will be killed according to their “holy books”.)

        They write SIAFIs on ‘troof’ and lies, while twisting the whole truth and lying in order to push their own agenda. It happens every day, even at the rags of the right such as The (politically agenda’d) Mail, where, for instance, Blair’s words, that without WMDs:

        “I would still have thought it right to remove him”

        translate instantly into –

        “I would have been able to remove him without WMDs.”

        It is not semantics to be able to see the REAL difference between Blair’s actual words and the papers’ interpretation of them. The difference would be clear to an averagely literate 14 year old. But the papers are written for reading age 12, and a politically aware/educated age of 9 and three quarters.

        In your response any casual reader can even spot some of your own brainwashing via various sources of SIAFIs.

        Mr Blair DID NOT go to war against the wishes of the country, but WITH a majority backing of over 63%. Yet you and your brainwashed like continue to re-tell the “story” from the SIAFIs that the majority were against it.

        WRONG! WRONG and WRONG again.

        Do your homework before you re-gurgitate tripe here, please.

    7. Little Ole American Says:

      Ok, it’s my turn to opine. I believe George W. Bush was one of the best presidents we have ever had. I’ve lived through a lot of them. The American people were tired of being attacked. We were attacked where our Marines were peacefully sleeping in their barracks in Saudi, attacked in Africa where hundreds of Africans, Americans and others were killed at the Embassy, attacked on the sea where 17 of our brave sailors on the U.S.S. Cole were killed and Saddam was shooting at our planes over the No Fly Zone on a DAILY basis. We did not respond to any of those attacks. Americans were angry about that. We were getting fed up with Saddam since the 1990’s. We were ripe for an attack on Saddam when we were attacked on 9/11. That is why over 80% of the American people were 100% behind the war. It was the FINAL straw. The American people wanted SOMETHING done! Enter George W. Bush! Finally, we had someone in office who would a stop to this! Saudi Arabia was fed up with Saddam, too and feared he would continue in his quest to control all the oil in the Middle East. If Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan had been firmly against the U.S. in taking out Saddam, we would not have gone in. It was all a strategic maneuver to stop the support of terrorism, not just against the West, but against the Middle Eastern countries as well. One only has to look at how Iran has been secretly building up WMD’s to know that as soon as we left Saddam and his sons to their own devices, they would continue to develop nukes and other WMD’s. A preventive strike was absolutely necessary. We needed to fight on their turf, NOT OURS.
      Saddam is given a pass by all the anti-war folks, for all the people murdered in Kuwaite and in his own country. Why is that? Why didn’t the antis demand something done when Saddam gassed his own people? The numbers of Iraqis, Kuwaities, and Americans killed by Saddam are not counted, are they? He is given a pass. Why? Why is he given a pass for murdering members of his own family? Why is he given a pass for having a prison for children under the age of twelve? The worst mistake we made was not going into Iraq during the first Gulf War to take him out THEN. He was a supporter of terrorism. Of that, there is no doubt. It is a fact that Saddam had publicly announced he would give Bin Laden sanctuary in Iraq.
      In America, we EXPECTED Britain to stand with us. It did not matter which party was in Parliament. You would have been with us, PERIOD.
      That is a good thing. That is why we are fond of Tony Blair and The Queen here. We are comrades in arms, if you will.
      The antis seem to ignore the fact that there were 25 other countries that formed the entire coalition. Were they ALL George W.’s puppets? I don’t understand why Blair has been singled out. After all, Britain sent only 4,000 troops into Iraq. That is NOT a very large contingent and to think these 4,000 killed over 100,000 “innocent” Iraqis is ludicrous. What the British and coalition troops did do (check out Michael Yon on line), was to protect the innocents from Al Quaeda and other terrorist groups. They protected and sacrificed. The aim of our militaires is to keep the attacks from our own shores. The icing on the cake is for Iraq to be free of tyranny.
      The Meanstream Media and some of the vulgar commentors seem like some kind of organized vigilanty group bent on damning democracy and freedom. The antis spew the same hatred and accusations that come directly from the jihadist propaganda that is flowering on the net.
      Speaking of flowers; our troops were deluged with flowers when they pulled down the statue of Saddam. The soldiers tell us there were so many flowers and cheers, it was (to use their word) insane!

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Little Ole American,

        Your remarks have been echoed by recent commenters at the Ban Blair-Baiting petition site, I notice.

        The present tirade in Britain is nothing less than a vigilante outfit out for Blair’s blood. They are goaded by the British press.

        What happened to Berlusconi at the hands of another madman will only ignite their passions further. If that idiot had had a gun and not a souvenir ornament, we’d be talking different headlines today.

    8. Tony Blair – quotes on Iraq/Saddam/WMDs – February 2003 « Tony Blair Says:

      […] Fern Britton: Blair on invading Iraq if it had NO WMDs – yes but, no but … […]

    9. BBC apologises for its anti-Blair bias (and sexing up the ‘evidence’). Is this a first? « Tony Blair Says:

      […] only realised this when I checked out my own coverage of this BBC report at my “yes, but no but” post.  In fact I had actually praised the BBC report as being reporting and not opining, […]

    10. dvickery Says:

      Has it not been established that Tony Blair agreed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with George W Bush in 2002, agreeing to send our troops in to Iraq alongside the Americans? Weapons of Mass Distruction was a flimsy pretext.The weapons inspectors were put under pressure to “find the evidence”! Hans Blix asked for more time, but was not granted this…
      Who voted for Alistair Campbell? How did he gain so much kudos? Since when has “The Government” been run by advisers? He comes across as a bully and a wimp. If he cannot get his own way, he throws a tantrum!

      Did the West nor arm Saddam Hussein in th 1980’s? You can not play politics with people.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Not sure, Mr Vickery, how far any ‘agreement’ extended. I expect YOU are, though. That fly on the wall, were you?

        Nor can we be sure how much power Blair actually had to see it through, anyway. Without parliament’s permission he was CLEARLY not going to go in. In fact if I recall the Westminster whisperings at the time, he would have resigned if he had lost the vote.

        Yes, we can argue that Blix should have been given more time, especially since he – like everyone else – believed that Saddam had WMD. And what would have happened 3/6/9 months down the line when and if they were still uncovered? NOTHIING? I think the Iraqi pople would not have said “thank you” to the west for turning away.

        Yes, the west did arm Iraq at an earlier time, for his struggles against Iran. I don’t see why this is an issue as time, politics and international relationships alter. We have armed many countries which became dictatorships or factions. No country, not even this country has friends for life – only allies. Still, the USA has, since its separation from Britain, been our most steadfast ally.

        As for not playing politics with people – what? Is that supposed to mean something? Politics is ABOUT people – those who vote and look to the politicians to make the BIG decisions, so we don’t have to. It’s also aboput OTHER people – those who play politics daily in international relationships, such as Ahmadinejad in Iran, Russia’s leadership, and even China (in Africa) today.

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