Blair didn’t read up on Iraq’s history before war: inquiry chief

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Iraq’s history wasn’t known by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the time he made the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, the head of an inquiry on the Iraq war said on Friday.

Lord Butler of Brockwell, who chaired the inquiry into the use of intelligence in the lead up to the invasion, said Blair and his advisers did not “research the area's history before agreeing to support America in the war,” the Telegraph reported, citing an article written by Lord Butler in the Civil Service World magazine

“Critics legitimately wonder how much those who took decisions about intervention in Iraq really knew about the history of those troubled regions," wrote Lord Butler.

In an interview on the anniversary of the Iraq war earlier this month, Blair, who stepped down in 2007 after ten years as prime minister and has been criticized for his decisions made on Iraq, said he thought constantly about the people who lost their lives in the conflict.

“So when you say ‘do you think of the loss of life since 2003’ of course I do, you would have to be inhumane not to, but think of what would have happened if he had been left there.”

“Sometimes what happens in politics, and unfortunately these things get mixed up with allegations of deceit and lying and so on, in the end sometimes you come to a decision where whichever choice you take the consequences are difficult and the choice is ugly. This was one such case.”

He acknowledged the U.S.-led invasion remained extremely divisive, but said: “I’ve long since given up in trying to persuade people it was the right decision.

“In a sense what I try to persuade people of now is to understand how complex and difficult a decision it was.

“Because I think if we don’t understand that, we won’t take the right decision about what I think will be a series of these types of problems that will arise over the next few years.

A Britain-based YouGov poll conducted to mark the 10th anniversary this week, revealed that more than half (53%) the British public believe the decision to invade Iraq was wrong and more than a fifth (22%) believe Tony Blair should be tried as a war criminal.