Asked in a candid interview on BBC2’s Newsnight whether he minded if “people call you a liar, some people call you a war criminal, protesters follow you; it’s difficult to walk down the street in a country”, he replied: “It really doesn’t matter whether it’s taken its toll on me.
“The fact is yes there are people who will be very abusive, by the way I do walk down the street and by the way I won an election in 2005 after Iraq. However, yes it remains extremely divisive and very difficult.”
By 23rd July 2002 George W. Bush had already decided to invade Iraq.
For Tony Blair, at the time, it seems quite clear what his reasoning was.
- Saddam Hussein was a terrifying dictator – anyone who travelled in Iraq while he ruled there confirms that.
He had unquestionably been guilty of horrifying atrocities, though as those had been committed at a time when he was regarded as a useful Middle Eastern dictator, they had then been ignored by the governments of the US and UK. He had been using Iraqi oil money for internal investment, building Iraq up to become a fully-developed nation (yes, he also spent it on his “palaces”, but so did every other Middle Eastern dictator with oil: he also spent it on Iraqi industry and infrastructure, and that’s what really bothered oil magnates). He had invaded a neighbouring country with intent to conquer and occupy (Gulf War II).