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Extracts from Tony Blair's autobiography A Journey show the former prime minister failed to "guess the nightmare that unfolded" despite repeated warnings from political veterans with close contacts to Iraq including Tony Benn.

Blair Mask

The Labour leader turned peace envoy expresses his regrets to the families of the British soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed but once again justifies his decision to go to war based on faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction.

And he describes his political opponents - who repeatedly warned about the aftermath of an attack on Iraq - as being "hard" like "granite" because they will not forgive him.

Blair says, in extracts from the book to support its promotion: "I can’t regret the decision to go to war for the reason I will give. I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded, and that too is part of the responsibility. But the notion of ‘responsibility’ indicates not a burden discharged but a burden that continues.

He adds: "It is also, of all the decisions I took, the one that even closest friends disagreed with; indeed, not so much simply disagreed with, but found hard to comprehend. My oldest political friend Geoff Gallop used to say not that he took a different view from me, but: ‘Just can’t understand why you did that, Tony."

Blair goes on to confirm he was aware of intelligence that Hussein had removed all WMD capability but chose to ignore it in favour of contradictory information that weapons still existed - and therefore held some legal justification for an attack.

He writes: "I understand entirely why people take this view. The stated purpose of the conflict was to enforce UN resolutions on Saddam’s WMD, and we found no WMD after taking control of the country. We thought there was an active WMD programme and there wasn’t.

The aftermath, following Saddam’s removal in May 2003, was bloody, destructive and chaotic. The intelligence on Saddam and WMD turned out to be incorrect. It is said - even I have said - that how this came to be so remains a mystery."

Tactical decision
He then adds: "I reread in full the final Iraq Survey Group Report from 2004, and had greater time to reflect on its purport. Compiled by the US/UK team headed by Dr David Kay and then Charles Duelfer to determine the truth about Saddam and WMD, the report was published in two stages.

"The first, while David Kay was heading the group, concluded in 2003 that Saddam had no active WMD programme Saddam made a tactical decision. From the mid-1990s onwards, Saddam’s policy became to remove sanctions at all costs.

"The active WMD programme was shut down. The material that had not been destroyed by the inspectors in 1991 was disposed of."

As The Sauce reported a year ago, civil servants including Sir Roderic Lyne who was on the Chilcot Inquiry panel, warned repeatedly and as early as 1996 that the United States had no blueprint for the reconstruction of Iraq after any proposed attack.

A spokesperson from Stop the War Coalition said today: "Tony Blair says in his memoirs that Iraq was the nightmare he did not see coming. The majority of people in Britain had no difficulty in seeing that the nightmare we faced was not Iraq, but Tony Blair and his war policies.

"Blair's legacy will be that of a war criminal who waged an illegal war which killed hundreds of thousands and left Iraq in pieces, and who when he left office exploited his crimes to accumulate wealth soon expected to top £60 million.

"We will not forget Blair's crimes or the victims, whether Iraqi civilians or British soldiers, and we will continue to campaign for his indictment for the violation of countless international laws."

Stop the War will be holding a protest outside Waterstone's bookshop in London's Piccadilly on Wednesday 8 September when Blair will be doing a book-signing.


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