Iraq – PM announces Military Action – 20 March 2003 (transcript & video)

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    At the end of Tony Blair’s time in office, interviewed by the BBC’s Andrew Marr who pushed him to “apologise”. Mr Blair’s response highlights the consistent and determined mis-reading of the Iraq situation by the British and the press.



    View video of television statement by Tony Blair on Iraq invasion



    STATEMENT televised 20th March 2003

    The Prime Minister’s Address To The Nation on the Iraq invasion


    ‘On Tuesday night I gave the order for British forces to take part in military action in Iraq. Tonight, British servicemen and women are engaged from air, land and sea. Their mission: to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.I know this course of action has produced deep divisions of opinion in our country. But I know also the British people will now be united in sending our armed forces our thoughts and prayers. They are the finest in the world and their families and all of Britain can have great pride in them.The threat to Britain today is not that of my father’s generation. War between the big powers is unlikely. Europe is at peace. The Cold War already a memory.But this new world faces a new threat: of disorder and chaos born either of brutal states like Iraq, armed with weapons of mass destruction; or of extreme terrorist groups. Both hate our way of life, our freedom, our democracy.

    My fear, deeply held, based in part on the intelligence that I see, is that these threats come together and deliver catastrophe to our country and world. These tyrannical states do not care for the sanctity of human life. The terrorists delight in destroying it.

    Some say if we act, we become a target. The truth is, all nations are targets. Bali was never in the front line of action against terrorism. America didn’t attack Al Qaeda. They attacked America.

    Britain has never been a nation to hide at the back. But even if we were, it wouldn’t avail us.

    Should terrorists obtain these weapons now being manufactured and traded round the world, the carnage they could inflict to our economies, our security, to world peace, would be beyond our most vivid imagination.

    My judgement, as Prime Minister, is that this threat is real, growing and of an entirely different nature to any conventional threat to our security that Britain has faced before.

    For 12 years, the world tried to disarm Saddam; after his wars in which hundreds of thousands died. UN weapons inspectors say vast amounts of chemical and biological poisons, such as anthrax, VX nerve agent, and mustard gas remain unaccounted for in Iraq.

    So our choice is clear: back down and leave Saddam hugely strengthened; or proceed to disarm him by force. Retreat might give us a moment of respite but years of repentance at our weakness would I believe follow.

    It is true Saddam is not the only threat. But it is true also- as we British know- that the best way to deal with future threats peacefully, is to deal with present threats with resolve.

    Removing Saddam will be a blessing to the Iraqi people. Four million Iraqis are in exile. 60% of the population dependent on food aid. Thousands of children die every year through malnutrition and disease. Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes or murdered.

    I hope the Iraqi people hear this message. We are with you. Our enemy is not you, but your barbarous rulers.

    Our commitment to the post-Saddam humanitarian effort will be total. We shall help Iraq move towards democracy. And put the money from Iraqi oil in a UN trust fund so that it benefits Iraq and no-one else.

    Neither should Iraq be our only concern. President Bush and I have committed ourselves to peace in the Middle East based on a secure state of Israel and a viable Palestinian state. We will strive to see it done.

    But these challenges and others that confront us – poverty, the environment, the ravages of disease – require a world of order and stability. Dictators like Saddam, terrorist groups like Al Qaeda threaten the very existence of such a world.

    That is why I have asked our troops to go into action tonight. As so often before, on the courage and determination of British men and women, serving our country, the fate of many nations rests.

    Thank you.’


    View speech and other matters of interest at the Number 10 website


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    “All countries need a leader who isn’t afraid to fight terrorism. I believe Mr. Blair did a necessary job in helping his allies. Are we all just supposed to lie down and wait for them to come for us, I don’t think so.”

    And – “Mr. Blair is one of the finest politicians to have had the privilege of serving the United Kingdom, and Britons are fortunate to have had him as their Prime Minister. Time will show that Mr. Blair’s approach to affairs in the Middle East were and remain correct. From a member of the Commonwealth, thank you, Mr. Blair, for your continued service to legitimate and lasting (and not convenient or politically expedient) freedom.”

    AND – “Tony Blair was the greatest Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the only regret I have he didn’t get my vote as I live in Canada.”

    AND – “I am sick and tired of television and radio interviewers asking the same old questions over and over, regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, presumably they hope Mr Blair will let slip some secret information which they would then use against him. History will show if the decision was the right one, (I believe it was) but people must accept that Tony Blair is a honourable man, and made his decision based on the known facts and not with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.”


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    12 Responses to “Iraq – PM announces Military Action – 20 March 2003 (transcript & video)”

    1. Magnus Ring Says:

      Hello there!
      Dying to get my hands on the videoclip above… can’t play the real-player-stuff. Really need it for my exam… Is it available in mpeg? or something else working with windows media player?

      Bunch of thanx!!!


    2. keeptonyblairforpm Says:

      I don’t think I sent you the right link through your YouTube request, but the daytime PMQs link on WM. I can’t find a Windows Media link to the ‘address to the nation’. The one I have here was a BBC link:

      So you could try searching the BBC archives for 2003/ Blair/Iraq.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful. His transcript is all there at the Downing Street website at the link I sent you earlier and at this page. If I find it, I’ll let you know.

    3. keeptonyblairforpm Says:

      Still can’t find the link. I have found this page but it’s commenting on his appearance and statement – without the video.

      If you find a video, please let me know.

      Isn’t there one on Youtube?

    4. BBC is British Intelligence Says:


    5. keeptonyblairforpm Says:

      I have spent some time at the BBC archives and they DO seem to have a lot of links which are dead. Don’t know why, but it’s a bit careless of them. However, they DO have a lot of stuff – and I have a feeling they move it around rather than hide from us.

    6. BBC are in on it Says:

      The BBC are complicit in this. They have videos up about all other topics going back years. The links that implicate the govt are all down. I am making a film about the war at the moment and it is scandalous.

    7. keeptonyblairforpm Says:

      Good luck to you!

      I await your film with bated breath.

    8. Blair: Olmert’s & Abbas’s Weakness “not an issue” « Tony Blair Says:

      […] Blair Announces Military Action on Iraq 20th March, 2003; Video & Transcript […]

    9. Emma Says:

      Does anybody know where I can get a copy of the Tony Blair / Paxman interview from 6th Feb 2003? I have the transcript but could really do with at least a clip of the interview for my coursework.


      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Emma – is it this one? Can’t be sure of the date of this, though I do remember it, and it was some time after the Iraq war had started, I think.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        I’ve found it, I think, Emma, here at the BBC –

        You download it to view it.

        BLAST! It’s not opening. The Beeb have removed a lot of their Blair interviews, for reasons best known to themselves. Keep googling for it. It might be out there somewhere. Good luck.

    10. Emma Says:

      That’s annoying of them. Thank you for trying! I will keep looking.

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