UK's Blair says did not foresee Iraq "nightmare"
By Karolina Tagaris
LONDON (Reuters) - Former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday he could have not have imagined what he called the "nightmare" that unfolded in Iraq but still did not regret joining the U.S.-led invasion.
In a political memoir Blair echoed previous statements that the 2003 invasion was justified because Saddam Hussein posed a threat and could have developed weapons of mass destruction.
The self-penned volume "A Journey" was published on the day the United States formally ended combat operations in Iraq after a conflict that claimed more than 100,000 deaths, most of them civilians.
Blair, 57, said he felt "desperately sorry" for the lives cut short, but said the mistaken belief that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction was an "understandable error."
"I can't regret the decision to go to war ... I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded," said Blair, referring to the years of political and sectarian bloodshed in Iraq that followed the invasion.
"I have often reflected as to whether I was wrong. I ask you to reflect as to whether I may have been right."
Blair was the closest ally of former U.S. President George W. Bush over the decision to invade Iraq.
The decision was the most controversial of Blair's 10-year premiership, provoking huge protests, divisions within his Labour Party and accusations he deceived Britons over his reasons for war when weapons of mass destruction were not found. Continued...