Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he’s sorry for “mistakes” made in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, but he doesn’t regret bringing down dictator Saddam Hussein.
“I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought,” Blair said in an exclusive interview on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS that airs Sunday.
Blair was referring to the claim that Saddam’s regime possessed weapons of mass destruction, which was used by the U.S. and British governments to justify launching the invasion. But the intelligence reports the claim was based on turned out to be false.
The ensuing war and dismantling of Saddam’s government plunged Iraq into chaos, resulting in years of deadly sectarian violence and the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq, a precursor of ISIS. Tens of thousands of Iraqis, more than 4,000 U.S. troops and 179 British service members were killed in the lengthy conflict.
As the most high-profile foreign ally of former U.S. President George W. Bush in the Iraq invasion, Blair has found his legacy overshadowed by the war, with questions and criticism following him wherever he goes.