Thursday, March 15, 2007

Blair justifies war in Iraq

Blair - Invasion of Iraq was "necessary and just"

Sky continued with its Inside Iraq coverage today with an exclusive interview with Tony Blair. Speaking on Sky News the British Prime Minister has denied that there is a Civil War ongoing in Iraq. In the interview with Adam Bolton, he insisted, “It was right to get rid of Saddam and to stand by the Iraqi people” but added, “I don’t think anyone foresaw the extent of violence.”
“The warning that was given to me was that Sunni and Shia wanted to go to war with each other, these two peoples don’t want to be at war with each other,” he said. “The latest report I got from Baghdad today … does show some significant improvement.” From Sky’s continuing reporting of the war, it is hard to see where these improvements are. This week alone there were 175 reported civilian deaths. On Wednesday CNN reported that at least 12 died in a market bombing near Kirkuk. Today the reported death toll stands at 37 including the death of another US troop. In total there have been 8 coalition troops reported killed this week, plus 18 Iraqi forces. The numbers of insurgents killed was said to be 8 according to Sky News. But there were signs of a drop in attacks. According to the Iraqi military, there has been a 30% drop in car bomb attacks since the new US-led offensive in Baghdad was launched. Figures also showed an 80% drop in civilian casualties. But Major General William Caldwell, for the Multinational Force in Iraq, confirmed that there had been a drop in attacks and that he expected a further reduction in attacks in the coming days. However both he and other military leaders were still cautious saying that it may be “too early to tell if the changes will hold”. Indeed the militia may just have “gone to ground” only to resurface later.

Continuing with the interview the Prime Minister was asked whether the invasion had made the UK less safe. On the threat to Britain he said, “Of course these people will use what happened in Iraq to do what they do … We get rid of the Taleban and Saddam and these people use this as an excuse to blow up innocent people in London.” And he insisted that what was happening in Iraq and elsewhere should be a ‘wake-up call’. “In the early 20th Century the world is interdependent … and we need to take the threat of terrorism seriously.” And of the extremists he said, “The world is at a fundamental conflict with these people.”

After the 30 minute interview came the analysis. Tim Marshall, Sky’s Foreign Affairs Editor, said the planning for the repercussions was not implemented. He disputed the Prime Minister’s claim that the election was not split along sectarian lines. He also said that reports from the army contradict Tony Blair’s claim that the armed forces were supplied with all they need.

Tim Marshall summarized the performance saying Mr Blair was a “conviction politician”. If Iraq pulled through it would serve as a “model of democracy” – but ”If Iraq collapses it will be his legacy.”

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