'This Week' Transcript: Tony Blair


BLAIR: Well, I think people thought the thing was on a more benign trajectory than it turned out to be. I mean, that is the truth.

AMANPOUR: people were wrong

And I think, as I say, the best way to look at this is, if you analyze it by analogy or reference to revolutionary communism, the fact is you wouldn't have said at any point in time when we were facing that threat, well, you're not telling us we're going to have to spend a few more years on this, are you? People would have said, well, we'll spend as long as we need to spend, I'm afraid, and that's just it.

AMANPOUR: Given the focus on Afghanistan today wouldn't it have been better// to not have diverted billions of dollars, the amount of resources, the amount of attention to Iraq. You could have waited.

BLAIR: I think what I would say to that is, it's a difficult question to answer but supposing we'd left Saddam --

AMANPOUR: But you could have contained him that was my point

BLAIR: Yes, I know but this is the issue and I think it's a really important issue. I don't think we would have contained him.

AMANPOUR: Why not?

BLAIR: Because the sanctions were crumbling --

AMANPOUR: But they were crumbling before 9/11.

BLAIR: Exactly.

AMANPOUR: Right after 9/11, all the countries who you were trying to keep on board, people like China, Russia, the French, even the left-winged chatterati, they would much preferred sanctions and containment to invasion.

BLAIR: Absolutely. But if you analyze the resolutions on sanctions and I was involved in all this, what actually happened was that they got watered down.

So my point to you is very simple. If we hadn't taken out Saddam, there would have still been consequences. Now what they are, we don't know. I can say I think he would have been a threat competing with Iran and someone else might say to me, well, actually he would have just been contained. We don't know. But my view was in the circumstances after 9/11, you had to send such a strong signal out on this issue. And incidentally don't ignore what actually did then happen. Libya gave up its WMD program. You know, Iran went, actually at the time, after 2003, went back into talks. North Korea rejoined six-party talks. You know, there was a lot that happened. And I personally felt, and I still feel, incidentally, that the single biggest threat we face is the prospect of these terrorist groups acquiring some form of nuclear, chemical, biological capability.

AMANPOUR: Although many would say that that is a worst-case scenario, and it is speculation because there isn't really any evidence to support that --

BLAIR: No, here's the problem, Christiane. And it really is a problem. I don't know, and you don't know, and you're making a calculation of risk. And the thing is, when you're sitting in the hot seat of decision making, you've got to decide. Maybe if they got them, they'd never use them. But I don't think if I was a leader today and, certainly, this is the view I took as a leader then, I take the risk. that's the problem, that's where Iran is so difficult, you know? I had someone say to me just literally the other night, they said to me, come on, look, supposing Iran gets the nuclear weapon. it's not the end of the world I mean, Why should they want to use it? Why would they want to cause all that destruction?

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