Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair should have “abstained” from invading Iraq by “all means”, focusing instead on “justified and legal” military action in Afghanistan, Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond told RT.
“It was not the twin towers in London that had been attacked and he does not have to engage in the same instability as had beset the American administration,” Salmond said in an interview with RT’s Going Underground praising Chilcot’s “powerful” report. “He just should have been trying to do the opposite.”
Instead, Salmond said, Tony Blair should have supported “international and justified legal action in Afghanistan”.
“He did not have to allow George W. Bush to blunder into Iraq,” Salmond believes, saying that even though much has changed since 9/11, Blair has “no excuse” for dragging the UK into the Iraq war.
In his long-delayed report released Wednesday, Sir John Chilcot examined the first eight years of the Iraq war. The so-called Chilcot inquiry particularly criticized Blair’s government for “inadequate” planning and underestimation of the Iraq invasion’s consequences.
The report found that the UK’s decision to support the Iraq war unjustified particularly because one of the major arguments for it – Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – was “presented with a certainty that was not justified.”
Chilcot also concluded that the military action “was not a last resort” and there had been other peaceful alternatives, which the government put aside.
It has been revealed that months before the US-UK allied invasion, in July 2002, Blair wrote to then-US President George Bush promising him that the UK would be there with him“whatever.”
“When he was writing that memo in secret to George W. Bush, he was telling the Parliament and people that he is trying his best to avoid conflict and that he was going the United Nations route,” Salmond said, stressing that in reality it was a lie.
“This incompatibility between his private thoughts expressed to the American president and his public presentation is at the heart of the deception,” Salmond added. “The very last thing you [should] do is to tell him that you are going to be with him shoulder to shoulder… which is Tony Blair did, of course.”
Speaking in light of the Chilcot inquiry release, Tony Blair has taken “full responsibility, without exception, without excuse” for the Iraq War. Yet, calling his decision one of the “hardest, most momentous, most agonizing” he had to make, he said that he still believes he acted in “good faith”.
“I would take the same decision,” Blair stressed.
Scolding Blair, Salmond said that the former Prime Minister “is just the only person left in the country, who would go and invade Iraq under a false premise.”
Scottish former FM says he was also “very disappointed” with the reaction and positioning of the most labor-leaning members of parliament. “The only honorable thing to do is to say ‘I made a mistake based on what was presented [at that time]’.”
Instead, the majority of them, he says, are “sticking to the line that they really had been ought to get to Saddam Hussein.”
“Actually, that was not the perspective, under which we went to war,” Salmond added.
Watch full interview with Alex Salmond on RT’s Going Underground with Afshin Rattansi on Saturday.