Blair in Baghdad

Tony Blair made a surprise visit to Baghdad to meet with Prime Minister Allawi and with British troops. He and Allawi gave a press conference in which they answered questions, every one of which was more or less hostile. Here is one question, along with Blair’s eloquent response:

Q: Nick Robinson, ITV News: Can you just give us a sense of your feelings today? You flew here in secrecy under armed protection into what is still a safe zone more than a year and a half after Saddam fell. Can you honestly say to yourself, this is what I meant to bring about when I said that we ought to invade Iraq?
Tony Blair: That’s a good question. I’ll tell you exactly what I felt coming in. Security is really heavy – you can feel the sense of danger that people live in here.
But what I felt more than anything else was this – the danger that people feel here is coming from terrorists and insurgents who are trying to destroy the possibility of this country becoming a democracy.
Now where do we stand in that fight? We stand on the side of the democrats against the terrorists. And so when people say to me, well look at the difficulties, look at the challenges – I say well what’s the source of that challenge – the source of that challenge is a wicked, destructive attempt to stop this man, this lady, all these people from Iraq, who want to decide their own future in a democratic way, having that opportunity.
And where should the rest of the world stand? To say, well that’s your problem, go and look after it, or you’re better off with Saddam Hussein running the country – as if the only choice they should have in the world is a choice between a brutal dictator killing hundreds of thousands of people or terrorists and insurgents.
There is another choice for Iraq – the choice is democracy, the choice is freedom – and our job is to help them get there because that’s what they want. Sometimes when I see some of the reporting of what’s happening in Iraq in the rest of the world, I just feel that people should understand how precious what has been created here is. And those people from that electoral commission that I described as the heroes of the new Iraq – every day… a lot of them aren’t living in the Green Zone, they’ve got to travel in from outside – they do not know at any point in time, whether they’re going to be subject to brutality or intimidation even death and yet they carry on doing it. Now what a magnificent example of the human spirit – that’s the side we should be on.

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