The former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has admitted that he failed to anticipate the “nightmare” — the violence and bloodshed — that followed the Iraq invasion and is still “haunted” by his actions but insists he does not “regret” the decision to go to war.
In his eagerly-awaited memoirs, A Journey, published on Wednesday, Mr. Blair expresses his “anguish” over the loss of innocent lives in Iraq and says he hopes to “redeem” his reputation by dedicating a “large part of the life left to me” by working for peace in West Asia.
He has decided to donate all earnings from the book, including a £4.5-million advance, to the Royal British Legion, a charity, “as a way of marking the enormous sacrifice [the armed forces] make”.
A considerable part of the book is devoted to his long-running feud with Gordon Brown, a fellow architect of New Labour and his successor at Downing Street.
Mr. Blair blames him for the party's defeat in the last general election and says he could be “maddening” at times. He also accuses Mr. Brown of lacking in “emotional intelligence” and claims he knew he would be a disaster as Prime Minister.
The chapter on Iraq is said to be among the most emotional. “I can't regret the decision to go to war. I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded, and that too is part of the responsibility,” he writes and, turning to his critics, he asks: “Do they really suppose I don't care, don't feel, don't regret with every fibre of my being the loss of those who died?”
He says he feels “desperately sorry” for those killed in Iraq and for their families but refuses to apologise for the invasion: “I still believe that leaving Saddam in power was a bigger risk to our security than removing him and that terrible though the aftermath was, the reality of Saddam and his son in charge of Iraq would at least arguably be much worse. It is for these reasons that I am unable to satisfy the desire even of some of my supporters, who would like me to say: it was a mistake but one made in good faith.”
Critics called it a “one-sided account” that would not change public perceptions of his actions.