Blair's war in his own words

Even for a Prime Minister whose communication skills are almost unrivalled in modern politics, selling the war in Iraq to the British people and the international community has presented the supreme challenge. With every twist in the diplomatic and military campaign, he has sought to persuade us of the moral and strategic imperatives behind his actions. But his rhetoric, too, has shifted. History will judge the man - but his words speak for themselves
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Speech to the Labour Party Conference, 2 October 2001

Speech to the Labour Party Conference, 2 October 2001

"This is a moment to seize. The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in a flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder this world around us."

Speech at the George Bush Snr Presidential Library, 7 April 2002

"As for Iraq, I know that some fear precipitate action. They needn't. We will proceed, as we did after September 11, in a calm, measured, sensible but firm way. But leaving Iraq to develop WMD, in flagrant breach of no less than nine separate UNSCRs, refusing still to allow weapons inspectors back to do their work properly, is not an option. The regime of Saddam is detestable. Brutal, repressive, political opponents routinely tortured and executed: it is a regime without a qualm in sacrificing the lives of its citizens to preserve itself, or starting wars with neighbouring states, and it has used chemical weapons against its own people.

"As I say, the moment for decision on how to act is not yet with us. But to allow WMD to be developed by a state like Iraq without let or hindrance would be grossly to ignore the lessons of September 11, and we will not do it. The message to Saddam is clear: he has to let the inspectors back in, anyone, any time, any place that the international community demands."

Speech to the House of Commons, 10 September 2002

"On September 11 last year, with the world still reeling from the shock of events, it came together to demand action. But suppose I had come last year on the same day as this year ­ 10 September. Suppose I had said to you: there is a terrorist network called al-Qa'ida. It operates out of Afghanistan. It has carried out several attacks and we believe it is planning more. It has been condemned by the UN in the strongest terms. Unless it is stopped, the threat will grow. And so I want to take action to prevent that.

"Your response, and probably that of most people, would have been very similar to the response of some of you yesterday on Iraq. There would have been few takers for dealing with it, and probably none for taking military action of any description."

Speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet, 11 November 2002

"Last Friday was an important day for the world. After months of debate, the UN came together and made its will plain. Saddam now has to decide: he can either disarm voluntarily, accepting the unanimous decision of the UN Security Council; or he can defy the world, in which case he will be disarmed by force. There is no dispute with the Iraqi people. Iraq's territorial integrity will be absolute. The dispute is with Saddam. It is now up to him as to how it is resolved: by peace or by conflict."

Interview with British Services Radio, 20 December 2002

Interviewer: There is a possibility that you may soon have to decide whether troops go into action in the Gulf. On a more personal level, if you do have to make that decision, how hard will it be for you?

Tony Blair: These are the hardest decisions because you are aware that you are putting people's lives at risk, and that is why we should never undertake conflict unless we have exhausted all other options and possibilities. But it is also the case, as I think we have seen in the fight against international terrorism, as we have seen in situations like Kosovo, and as we see when we are dealing with someone like Saddam Hussein, that unless you do have the capability to use force if necessary, it is very hard to make the world a more secure and more peaceful place. And sometimes I think that the best, indeed the only way of avoiding war is to be prepared for one if you have to have it.

Speech to the Labour Party Conference in Glasgow, 21 February 2003

"By going down the UN route, we gave the UN an extraordinary opportunity and a heavy responsibility. The opportunity is to show that we can meet the menace to our world today together, collectively and as a united international community. What a mighty achievement that would be. The responsibility, however, is to deal with it.

"The League of Nations also had that opportunity and responsibility back in the 1930s. In the early days of the Fascist menace, it had the duty to protect Abyssinia from invasion. But when it came to a decision to enforce that guarantee, the horror of war deterred it. We know the rest. The menace grew; the League of Nations collapsed; war came.

"I rejoice that we live in a country where peaceful protest is a natural part of our democratic process. But I ask the marchers to understand this. I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour. But sometimes it is the price of leadership. And the cost of conviction.

"But as you watch your TV pictures of the march, ponder this: if there are 500,000 on that march, that is still less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for. If there are one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started."

Speech to the House of Commons, 25 February 2003

"To those who say we are rushing to war, I say this. We are now 12 years after Saddam was first told by the UN to disarm; nearly six months after President Bush made his speech to the UN accepting the UN route to disarmament; nearly four months on from Resolution 1441; and even now, today, we are offering Saddam the prospect of voluntary disarmament through the UN.

"I detest his regime. But even now he can save it by complying with the UN's demand. Even now, we are prepared to go the extra step to achieve disarmament peacefully. I do not want war. I do not believe anyone in this House wants war. But disarmament peacefully can only happen with Saddam's active co-operation.

"Twelve years of bitter experience teaches that. And if he refuses to co-operate, as he is refusing now, and we fail to act, what then? Saddam in charge of Iraq, his WMD intact, the will of the international community set at nothing, the UN tricked again, Saddam hugely strengthened and emboldened ­ does anyone truly believe that will mean peace? And when we turn to deal with other threats, where will our authority be? And when we make a demand next time, what will our credibility be?

"This is not a road to peace but folly and weakness that will only mean that the conflict, when it comes, is more bloody, less certain and greater in its devastation."

Press conference with Spanish PM Aznar, 28 February 2003

"We are in agreement that we want to see the issue of the disarmament of Iraq resolved through the UN. Of course we do. But the reason why we believe that this issue does indeed have to be resolved is because we understand the threat that weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, potentially nuclear weapons, and the link with international terrorism can pose to the security of our people. And sometimes that threat is difficult to discern in an immediate sense, but it is real.

"The terrorists, we know, will stop at nothing, and if we allow the proliferation and development by unstable states of these types of weapons, then we will put at risk not just our security but our prosperity for the future. And if we fail to act at this time and send a clear signal of our common intent, if we fail to act, the result will not be peace, it will simply be conflict postponed."

Speech after the Bush/Blair/Aznar Azores Summit, 17 March 2003

"So now we have reached the point of decision, and we make a final appeal for there to be that strong unified message on behalf of the international community that lays down a clear ultimatum to Saddam that authorises force if he continues to defy the will of the whole of the international community set out in Resolution 1441.

"We will do all we can in the short time that remains to make a final round of contacts to see whether there is a way through this impasse. But we are in the final stages because, after 12 years of failing to disarm him, now is the time when we have to decide."

Speech opening the Commons debate on Iraq, 18 March 2003

"The outcome of this issue will now determine more than the fate of the Iraqi regime and more than the future of the Iraqi people, for so long brutalised by Saddam. It will determine the way that Britain and the world confront the central security threat of the 21st century; the development of the UN; the relationship between Europe and the US; the relations within the EU, and the way the US engages with the rest of the world. It will determine the pattern of international politics for the next generation. ...

"What would any tyrannical regime possessing WMD think, viewing the history of the world's diplomatic dance with Saddam? That our capacity to pass firm resolutions is only matched by our feebleness in implementing them.

"That is why this indulgence has to stop. Because it is dangerous. It is dangerous if such regimes disbelieve us. Dangerous if they think they can use our weakness, our hesitation, even the natural urges of our democracy towards peace, against us. Dangerous because one day they will mistake our innate revulsion against war for permanent incapacity; when in fact, pushed to the limit, we will act. But then, when we act, after years of pretence, the action will have to be harder, bigger, more total in its impact. Iraq is not the only regime with WMD. But back away now from this confrontation, and future conflicts will be infinitely worse and more devastating."...

"Confidence is the key to prosperity. Insecurity spreads like a contagion. So people crave stability and order. The threat is chaos. And there are two begetters of chaos. Tyrannical regimes with WMD, and extreme terrorist groups who profess a perverted and false view of Islam."...

"The purpose of terrorism lies not just in the violent act itself. It is in producing terror. It sets out to inflame, to divide, to produce consequences that they then use to justify further terror."...

"11 September has changed the psychology of America. It should have changed the psychology of the world.

"Of course, Iraq is not the only part of this threat. But it is the test of whether we treat the threat seriously. Faced with it, the world should unite. The UN should be the focus, both of diplomacy and of action. That is what 1441 said. That was the deal. And I say to you, to break it now, to will the ends but not the means, would do more damage in the long term to the UN than any other course. To fall back into the lassitude of the last 12 years, to talk, to discuss, to debate but never act; to declare our will but not enforce it; to combine strong language with weak intentions ­ a worse outcome than never speaking at all.

"And then, when the threat returns from Iraq or elsewhere, who will believe us? What price our credibility with the next tyrant? No wonder Japan and South Korea, next to North Korea, has issued such strong statements of support."...

"I recall, a few weeks ago, talking to an Iraqi exile and saying to her that I understood how grim it must be under the lash of Saddam. 'But you don't,' she replied. 'You cannot. You do not know what it is like to live in perpetual fear.' And she is right. We take our freedom for granted. But imagine not to be able to speak or discuss or debate or even question the society you live in. To see friends and family taken away and never daring to complain. To suffer the humility of failing courage in face of pitiless terror. That is how the Iraqi people live. Leave * * Saddam in place, and that is how they will continue to live."...

"To retreat now, I believe, would put at hazard all that we hold dearest, turn the UN back into a talking shop, stifle the first steps of progress in the Middle East; leave the Iraqi people to the mercy of events on which we would have relinquished all power to influence for the better.

"Tell our allies that, at the very moment of action, at the very moment when they need our determination, Britain faltered. I will not be party to such a course. This is not the time to falter. This is the time for this House, not just this government or indeed this prime minister, but for this House to give a lead, to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right, to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk, to show at the moment of decision that we have the courage to do the right thing. I beg to move the motion."

Television address to the nation, 20 March 2003

"The threat to Britain today is not that of my father's generation. War between the big powers is unlikely. Europe is at peace, the Cold War already a memory.

"But this new world faces a new threat: of disorder and chaos born either of brutal states like Iraq, armed with WMD; or of extreme terrorist groups. Both hate our way of life, our freedom, our democracy.

"My fear, deeply held, based in part on the intelligence that I see, is that these threats come together and deliver catastrophe to our country and world. These tyrannical states do not care for the sanctity of human life. The terrorists delight in destroying it."

Interview with British Services Radio, 23 March 2003

Interviewer: President Bush denounced the Iraqis apparently parading prisoners of war. What is your reaction to that?

Tony Blair: Sometimes, when people ask me whether it is really necessary to get rid of Saddam, I say, look at the things that he does. Parading people in that way is contrary to the Geneva Convention, contrary to all the proper rules of combat.

Speech to the House of Commons, 24 March 2003

"We are now just four days into this conflict. It is worth restating our central objectives. They are to remove Saddam Hussein from power and ensure Iraq is disarmed of all chemical, biological and nuclear weapon programmes. But in achieving these objectives, we have also embraced other considerations. We want to do this campaign in a way that minimises the suffering of ordinary Iraqi people, brutalised by Saddam; to safeguard the wealth of the country for the future prosperity of the people; and to make this a war not of conquest but of liberation."

Joint press conference with President Bush, 27 March 2003

"Just under a week into this conflict, let me restate our complete and total resolve. Saddam Hussein and his hateful regime will be removed from power. Iraq will be disarmed of WMD, and the Iraqi people will be free. That is our commitment, that is our determination, and we will see it done."

Article in the Arab press, 30 March 2003

"The choice that the international community then faced was to disarm Saddam by force and oust his regime, or to back down and leave Saddam hugely strengthened to attack or intimidate his neighbours and to pass on these weapons to extremist terrorist groups. I believe that history will judge that we made the right choice."...

"I want all Iraqis ­ Arab, Assyrian, Kurd, Turkoman, Sunni, Shiite, Christian, and all other groups ­ to share in the fruits of this new, prosperous Iraq, united within its current borders. An Iraq free from tyranny, fear and repression. ... An Iraq truly at peace with itself, with its neighbours, and the international community."

Press conference with Spanish PM Aznar, 31 March 2003

"I believe this is an important moment for us all. It is a test of the seriousness with which we are treating this issue of WMD. It is a test also of the UN and the international community, and how we resolve it through the UN, which is what we want to see, and it is also a test of our political will and political resolve."

Joint press conference with President Bush, 31 March 2003

"The whole point about the present situation is that when President Bush made his speech to the UN, when we went down the UN route, we passed Resolution 1441. And I think it really repays rereading that, because we said very clearly that Saddam had a final opportunity to disarm, and that he had to co-operate fully in every respect with the UN weapons inspectors. As Dr Blix said in his report to the Security Council earlier this week, he is not doing that. And therefore, what is important is that the international community comes together again and makes it absolutely clear that this is unacceptable."

Interview with BBC World Service, 4 April 2003

Interviewer: "Many callers ask, if you are today in Iraq, who next?

Tony Blair: There is no question of who next. We are in Iraq for a particular reason, and this is not a war against Iraq. It is a war against Saddam. It is a war against Saddam because of the WMD that he has, and it is a war against Saddam because of what he has done to the Iraqi people. To people who are brutally oppressed, to people who have no proper democratic rights, to people whose wealth he has plundered while he and his sons live in palaces and lead a wealthy lifestyle, the rest of the population ­ 60 per cent of them ­ are dependent on food aid, even though Iraq is a rich country.

Message to the Iraqi people, 8 April 2003

"As soon as Saddam Hussein's regime falls, the work to build a new, free and united Iraq will begin. A peaceful, prosperous Iraq that will be run by and for the Iraqi people. Not by America, not by Britain, not by the UN ­ though all of us will help ­ but by you, the people of Iraq.

"For the first time in 25 years, you will be free from the shadow of Saddam and can look forward to a new beginning for your families and your country. That is already starting to happen in those parts of your country that have been liberated. But you want to know that we will stay to get the job done. You want to know that Saddam will be gone. I assure you: he will be. Then, Coalition forces will make the country safe, and will work with the UN to help Iraq get back on its feet. We will continue to provide immediate humanitarian aid, and we will help with longer-term projects."

Joint press conference with President Bush, 8 April 2003

"On WMD, we know that the regime has them, we know that as the regime collapses we will be led to them. We pledged to disarm Iraq of WMD, and we will keep that commitment."

Radio message to the Iraqi people, 10 April 2003

"We did not want this war. But in refusing to give up his WMD, Saddam gave us no choice but to act. Now the war has begun, it will be seen through to the end. ... Our forces are friends and liberators of the Iraqi people, not your conquerors. They will not stay a day longer than is necessary."

Speech to the House of Commons, 14 April 2003

"I should emphasise that this conflict is not yet over. There will be tough times ahead, and fighting as well as peace-building still to do. However, less than four weeks from the commencement of the war, the regime of Saddam is gone, the bulk of Iraq is under Coalition control, and the vast majority of Iraqis are rejoicing at Saddam's departure. Whatever the problems following Saddam's collapse ­ and, in the short term, they are bound to be serious ­ let no one be in any doubt. Iraq is a better place without Saddam. This was indeed liberation not conquest, and the Iraqi people, given a chance, are every bit as much in favour of freedom as people anywhere in the world.

"Our commitment now is clear. Just as we had a strategy for war, so we have a strategy for peace. Iraq will be better, better for the region, better for the world, better, above all, for the Iraqi people."

Joint press conference with Kofi Annan, 16 April 2003

"What they [Iraqis] need is a country that is rebuilt, after years of Saddam's rule they need to have proper representative government, they need the proper protection of human rights, and that government needs to be seen as representative, both by the Iraqi people but also by the international community."

Joint press conference with President Putin, 29 April 2003

"There is agreement, as you know, that the UN should have a vital role, both in respect of the humanitarian position in Iraq, but also in respect of its political and economic reconstruction."

Speech to British troops in Iraq, 31 March 2003

"You know I think that this area of the world has been the source of probably more instability, more terrorism, more difficulty in managing world affairs than any other region in the world. And it is interesting to me to talk, for example, to the leaders of the Gulf countries, most recently last night in Kuwait, and see the changes that they can see happening in their countries as a result of the removal of Saddam's dictatorship from Iraq.

"You can see in relation to countries like Syria and Iran, where we have still got big issues we need to discuss with them and resolve with them, and yet we can do that now in a completely different atmosphere than was possible a few months ago. And you can see it, too, in the Middle East peace process, in what is happening in Israel and Palestine, where, for the first time in several years, there is just the beginning of the hope of a different way forward for the future. And all of that has arisen out of this action and what you did."

BBC radio interview, 31 May 2003

Interviewer: But at the moment, the people are worse off, aren't they? The disorder on the streets, the facilities such as electricity and water. They are worse off than they were before the conflict started.

Tony Blair: I don't accept that for a single instant, incidentally. Certainly down in Basra in the south, people have never had full electricity all day. They have always had problems with water. There have been outbreaks of cholera virtually every year.

Interviewer: Looting, for example?

Tony Blair: Well, they have been under the thumb and repression of Saddam and, yes, there are problems to do with law and order and security, partly because, as you know, Saddam actually emptied the prisons last year and many of those are the criminal elements. Now we are getting on top of that in Basra and the south. In Baghdad, there's still a long way to go. But don't be under any illusion at all, people in Iraq are still delighted to be liberated from Saddam.

Interview at G8 Summit, 2 June 2003

"I stand absolutely 100 per cent behind the evidence, based on intelligence, that we presented to people."

Response to the news that Uday and Qusay Hussein are dead, 23 July 2003

"This is a great day for the new Iraq. These two particular people were at the head of a regime ­ there wasn't just a security threat because of its weapons programme ­ that was responsible, as we can see from the mass graves, for the torture and killing of thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqis. And the celebrations that are taking place are an indication of just how evil they were. ... People understand that if we are able to make the progress that we want to make in Iraq, that is going to open up not just new opportunities for Iraqi people, it is going to increase the stability of that country, of the region, and therefore the security of the whole of the world. "

Evidence given to the Hutton Inquiry, 28 August 2003

James Dingemans, QC, Counsel for the Inquiry: In the penultimate paragraph, you need to make it clear Saddam could not attack us at the moment. The thesis is he would be a threat to the UK in the future if we do not check him.

Tony Blair: Yes.

JD: Did those comments get reflected in the dossier?

TB: I think so, yes. But I think the most important thing was I was very careful in my statement to make it clear what we were and were not saying. I think it is just important to emphasise this point. The purpose of the dossier was to respond to the call to disclose the intelligence that we knew, but at that stage, the strategy was not to use the dossier as the immediate reason for going to conflict, but as the reason why we had to return to the issue of Saddam and WMD, preferably, as I said later, through the UN....

JD: And you can see what you say at the top [of the document]: "... the idea that we authorised or made our intelligence agencies invent some piece of evidence is completely absurd..."

TB: Yes.

JD: Was that the main charge to which you were responding at the time?

TB: Yes, I mean, look, this was an absolutely fundamental charge. It is one thing to say: we disagree with the Government, you should not have gone to war. People can have a disagreement about that. This was an allegation that we had behaved in a way that, were it true ­ as I say in my statement, tested in this way, had the allegation been true, it would have merited my resignation. It was not a small allegation, it was absolutely fundamental.

Statement on the capture of Saddam Hussein, 14 December 2003

"The shadow of Saddam is finally lifted from the Iraqi people. We give thanks for that, but let this be more than a cause simply for rejoicing. Let it be a moment to reach out and to reconcile."...

"And let us lay one myth to rest today. We have a common interest, Coalition forces and Iraqi people. Our purpose is a shared purpose. Our victory a shared victory. The Coalition needs an Iraq that is stable and prosperous for the good of Iraq, the region and the wider world. The Iraqi people, who were reduced to poverty and to penury by Saddam and his sons, they desire no more than to live in peace, to develop their nation's wealth and to put freedom in the place of dictatorship. We're on the same side.

"And who is against us? The tiny minority of Iraqis who wanted Saddam back and must now know that their cause is a futile one, and assorted foreign terrorists who * * have entered Iraq whose greatest fear is that a new Iraq spells the end of their vile campaign of terror and propaganda against the Arab and the Western world working in partnership together."

Speech to UK forces in Basra, 4 January 2004

"The threat that we face today, the threat that our country faces from other countries around the world, is not the one that certainly my generation grew up with, it is not the prospect of a big world war where countries are fighting each other. You can never discount that, but it is highly improbable, except I suppose in one set of circumstances, and those are the circumstances of chaos, and that chaos comes today from terrorism, from a particular virus of Islamic extremism that is a perversion of the true faith of Islam, but is none the less incredibly dangerous and that you see, literally, in every part of the world."

Speech to the House of Commons on the Hutton Report, 16 January 2004

"Let me make it plain: it is absolutely right that people can question whether the intelligence received was right; and why we have not yet found WMD. There is an entirely legitimate argument about the wisdom of the conflict. I happen to believe now, as I did in March, that removing Saddam has made the world a safer and better place. But others are entirely entitled to disagree."...

"However, all of this is of a completely different order from a charge of deception, of duplicity, of deceit, a charge that I or anyone else deliberately falsified intelligence."...

"The truth about that charge is now found. No intelligence was inserted into the dossier by Downing Street; nothing was put in it against the wishes of the intelligence services; no one, either in Downing Street or the JIC, put any intelligence into it, 'probably knowing it was wrong'; and no such claim to the BBC was made by anyone 'in charge of drawing up the dossier'. Indeed, Lord Hutton's findings go further. The claim was not even made by Dr Kelly himself."...

"Again as Lord Hutton finds, no one in fact 'leaked' his [Kelly's] name. Not myself, not the Secretary of State, not the officials. As Lord Hutton finds, the decision by the MoD to confirm Dr Kelly's name, if the correct name was put to it by a journalist, was based on the view that in a matter of such intense public and media interest, it would not be sensible to try to conceal it."...

"There was no dishonourable or underhand or duplicitous strategy to name Dr Kelly. He was named for the reason we gave. And again I ask that those that have repeatedly claimed that I lied over this issue, or that Sir Kevin Tebbit did, now withdraw that allegation also, unequivocally and in full."...

"That is how this began: with an accusation that was false then and is false now.We can have the debate about the war; about WMD; about intelligence. But we do not need to conduct it by accusations of lies and deceit. We can respect each other's motives and integrity even when in disagreement. Let me repeat the words of Lord Hutton: 'False accusations of fact impugning the integrity of others ... should not be made.' Let those that made them now withdraw them."

Press conference with King Abdullah of Jordan, 2 March 2004

"[The difference is now between] all of us on the one hand, and that small, but I am afraid highly active, group of terrorists who are prepared to bomb and kill and maim innocent people in order to wreck the progress that is being made. And it is truly, if there was any clearer struggle between good and evil, between those on the one hand who want to build Iraq as a decent country in which people from whatever religious quarter can live together in freedom and in peace, and on the other those who would destroy that and replace it by religious hatred."

Speech to the House of Commons, 5 April 2004

"No decision I have ever made in politics has been as divisive as the decision to go to war in Iraq. It remains deeply divisive today."...

"[It] remains my fervent view that the nature of the global threat we face in Britain and round the world is real and existential, and it is the task of leadership to expose it and fight it, whatever the political cost; and that the true danger is not to any single politician's reputation, but to our country if we now ignore this threat or erase it from the agenda in embarrassment at the difficulties it causes."...

"Everything about our world is changing: its economy, its technology, its culture, its way of living. If the 20th century scripted our conventional way of thinking, the 21st century is unconventional in almost every respect. That is true also of our security."...

"11 September was, for me, a revelation. What had seemed inchoate came together. The point about 11 September was not its detailed planning; not its devilish execution; not even, simply, that it happened in America, on the streets of New York. All of this made it an astonishing, terrible and wicked tragedy, a barbaric murder of innocent people. But what galvanised me was that it was a declaration of war by religious fanatics who were prepared to wage that war without limit. They killed 3,000. But if they could have killed 30,000, or 300,000, they would have rejoiced in it. The purpose was to cause such hatred between Muslims and the West that a religious jihad became reality; and the world engulfed by it."...

"From 11 September on, I could see the threat plainly. Here were terrorists prepared to bring about Armageddon. Here were states whose leadership cared for no one but themselves; were often cruel and tyrannical towards their own people; and who saw WMD as a means of defending themselves against any attempt, external or internal, to remove them, and who, in their chaotic and corrupt state, were in any event porous and irresponsible, with neither the will nor capability to prevent terrorists who also hated the West from exploiting their chaos and corruption."...

"This is not a time to err on the side of caution; not a time to weigh the risks to an infinite balance; not a time for the cynicism of the worldly wise who favour playing it long. Their worldly wise cynicism is actually at best naivety and at worst dereliction."...

"I have no doubt Iraq is better without Saddam; but no doubt, either, that as a result of his removal, the dangers of the threat we face will be diminished. That is not to say that the terrorists won't redouble their efforts. They will. This war is not ended. It may only be at the end of the first phase."...

"It is a new type of war. It will rest on intelligence to a greater degree than ever before. It demands a different attitude to our own interests. It forces us to act, even when so many comforts seem unaffected and the threat so far off, if not illusory. In the end, believe your political leaders or not, as you will. But do so at least having understood their minds."

Joint press conference with the Iraqi foreign minister, 6 April 2004

"This time last year, Saddam was still in power, if only just. He's now in jail awaiting trial for his crimes. This time last year, Iraqi Shias were excluded from political life, now Shias are actually the majority on the Iraqi Governing Council. Shia councils are running Shia towns. This time last year, religious celebrations were banned, the streets of the holy cities Najaf and Kerbala were the haunt of the intelligence services of Saddam. Now, they are actually thronged with pilgrims. So, big challenges remain in Iraq, of that there is no doubt, as events in the recent days show. Iraq has been a deeply damaged country, and going from totalitarianism to freedom was always bound to be difficult. A few groups are abusing these new freedoms in Iraq. There are sympathisers of Saddam Hussein, there are some outside terrorists, and then, as we have seen recently, there are people who want to subvert the path of Iraq towards a proper democracy. Moqtada al-Sadr does not represent, however, the vast majority of Iraq's Shias. He doesn't represent any of the values of the new Iraq. He represents a small band of extremists, he surrounds himself with an armed militia, and there's no place for armed militias in the new Iraq. Iraq should be governed by democracy, not by militias or demagoguery."

Doorstep interview in Georgia, 8 June 2004

"The world community has spoken with one voice and has given its support to the new Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Alawi, and it has also expressed its clear support for the timetable to democracy and the holding of elections next year.

"In addition, it has supported the policy of Iraqi-isation of security in Iraq, and the role of the multinational force in bringing that about. So the people of Iraq now know that the world community is united in helping them take charge of their future, and for those who would try to stop this process, who would try to continue the terrorism and the killing, they should also know that it is not just the new Iraqi government they face, or the multinational force, or the US, or the UK, but a united world.

"I have no doubt there will be difficult and dangerous days ahead. These people will continue with their terrorism and their obstruction, but there should be no doubt about what it is we want to see happening in Iraq, or indeed the collective determination of a united world to bring it about."

Joint press conference with the Iraqi foreign minister and defence minister, 28 June 2004

"The vast majority of Iraqi people want stability and democracy, they want a good way forward. The terrorists, by contrast, and the insurgents, Saddam elements, what they want to do is to stop that progress and cause chaos. And therefore, the issue is, how do we as an international community support the efforts of the new Iraqi government, now a government with the support of the whole of the international community, how do we help and support them beat this insurgency and terrorism. And we have got to do everything we can by way of training, and equipment, and support, inside and outside of Iraq, to make sure that that happens.

"Because, in the end, it is the age-old struggle between those who want to decide their system of government and how their country is run through democratic means, and those who want to decide it by whoever has most weapons, most power in a military or security sense. And this is a hugely important struggle, therefore, on behalf, as I say, not just of the people of Iraq, but the wider region and the world."

Statement on the Butler Report, 14 July 2004

"The report finds that there is little ­ if any ­ significant evidence of stockpiles of readily deployable weapons. But it also concludes that Saddam Hussein did indeed have: 'the strategic intention of resuming the pursuit of prohibited weapons programmes...; was carrying out illicit research and development and procurement activities, to seek to sustain its indigenous capabilities...; was developing ballistic missiles with a range longer than permitted under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.' ...

"This is now the fourth exhaustive inquiry that has dealt with this issue. This report, like the Hutton Inquiry, like the report of the ISC before it, and of the FAC before that, has found the same thing.

"No one lied. No one made up the intelligence. No one inserted things into the dossier against the advice of the intelligence services. Everyone genuinely tried to do their best in good faith for the country in circumstances of acute difficulty. That issue of good faith should now be at an end.

"There was no conspiracy. There was no impropriety. The essential judgement and truth, as usual, does not lie in extremes.

"We all acknowledge Saddam was evil and his regime depraved. Whether or not actual stockpiles of weapons are found, there wasn't and isn't any doubt that Saddam used WMD and retained every strategic intent to carry on developing them. The judgement is this: would it have been better or more practical to have contained him through continuing sanctions and weapons inspections; or was this inevitably going to be, at some point, a policy that failed? And was removing Saddam a diversion from pursuing the global terrorist threat? Or part of it?"

Press conference at Downing Street with the Iraqi PM Alawi, 19 September 2004

"Whatever the disagreements about the first conflict in Iraq to remove Saddam, in this conflict now taking place in Iraq, this is the crucible in which the future of this global terrorism will be determined, and either it will succeed and this terrorism will grow, or we will succeed, the Iraqi people will succeed, and this global terrorism will be delivered a huge defeat.

"The terrorists that are conducting these killings in Iraq, they know what is at stake, and we should know what is at stake, too, and now is not the time for the international community to divide or disagree, but to come together behind what is happening in Iraq, and realise that the struggle of this prime minister and the Iraqi people for liberty, and democracy and stability, is actually our struggle, too, which is why we will see it through until it is finished, until it finishes in the victory, not of America or Britain or the West, but the victory of the Iraqi people."

Speech to the Labour Party Conference, 28 September 2004

"The evidence about Saddam Hussein having actual biological and chemical weapons, as opposed to the capability to develop them, has turned out to be wrong. I acknowledge that and accept it. I simply point out that such evidence was agreed by the whole international community, not least because Saddam had used such weapons against his own people and neighbouring countries.

"And the problem is, I can apologise for the information that turned out to be wrong, but I can't, sincerely at least, apologise for removing Saddam. The world is a better place with Saddam in prison, not in power.

"But at the heart of this is a belief that the basic judgment I have made since 11 September, including on Iraq, is wrong, that by our actions we have made matters worse not better.

"I know that this issue has divided the country. I entirely understand why many disagree. I know, too, that as people see me struggling with it, they think, he's stopped caring about us; or, worse, he's just pandering to George Bush, and, what's more, in a cause that's irrelevant to us.

"It has been hard for you. Like the delegate who told me: 'I've defended you so well to everyone that I've almost convinced myself.' Do I know I'm right? Judgements aren't the same as facts. Instinct is not science. I'm like any other human being ­ as fallible and as capable of being wrong.

"I only know what I believe."

Compiled by Ed Caesar

Iraq War Timeline

11 September 2001

Attacks on the United States.

7 October 2001

US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

29 January 2002

In President George Bush's State of the Union address, he identifies Iraq, along with Iran and North Korea, as an 'axis of evil'.

14 May 2002

The UN Security Council revamps the 11-year-old sanctions against Iraq.

12 September 2002

Bush addresses the UN General Assembly, challenging it to confront the 'grave and gathering danger' of Iraq ­ or become irrelevant.

10 October 2002

Congress adopts a joint resolution authorising use of force in Iraq and gives the President authority to take pre-emptive, unilateral action in Iraq, when and how he deems necessary.

8 November 2002

The UN Security Council unanimously approves Resolution 1441.

21 December 2002

Bush approves deploying US troops to Gulf region. It is estimated that by March, 200,000 troops will be stationed there. British and Australian troops join them in coming months.

28 January 2003

In his State of the Union address, President Bush announces that he is ready to attack Iraq, even without a UN mandate.

15 February 2003

Up to two million people march in London in an anti-war demonstration.

24 February 2003

The US, Great Britain and Spain submit a proposed resolution to UN Security Council stating 'Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441'.

17 March 2003

UK ambassador to UN says the diplomatic process on Iraq has ended. Arms inspectors evacuate. Bush gives Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war.

19 March 2003

Invasion of Iraq begins when the United States launches Operation Iraqi Freedom.

21 March 2003

Major phase of war begins with aerial attacks on Baghdad, publicised by the Pentagon as an overwhelming barrage meant to instil 'shock and awe'.

9 April 2003

Baghdad falls.

2 May 2003

Bush declares victory in Iraq.

12 May 2003

A new civil administrator takes over in Iraq. Paul Bremer, a diplomat and former head of counter-terrorism at the US State Department, replacing Jay Garner.

29 May 2003

Andrew Gilligan claims on BBC's Today that the September 2002 Iraq intelligence dossier, which formed part of the case for war, had been 'sexed up'.

13 July 2003

Iraq's interim governing council, composed of 25 Iraqis appointed by US and British officials, is inaugurated.

15 July 2003

Dr David Kelly appears before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee after being exposed as Gilligan's source.

18 July 2003

Dr Kelly is found dead.

1 August 2003

Hutton enquiry into Dr Kelly's death begins.

13 December 2003

Saddam captured.

28 January 2004

Hutton Report published.

14 July 2004

Butler Report on Iraq intelligence published.

28 Sept 2004

Tony Blair's speech to Labour Party conference.

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