Blair comments on the Downing Street Leaks:

“People say the decision was already taken. The decision was not already taken,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

“The trouble with having a political discussion on the basis of things that are leaked is that they are always taken right out of context. Everything else is omitted from the discussion and you end up focusing on a specific document,” he said.

“It would be absolutely weird if, when the Iraq issue was on the agenda, you were not constantly raising issues, trying to work them out, get them in the right place,” he said.

“I am a bit astonished at how this has received such coverage in the U.S. because the fact is, after the memo was done, we went to the United Nations,” Blair said.

“What people forget about that memo is that that (it) occurred nine months before the conflict. … So whatever issues there were, we resolved them ultimately by saying we have got to give it one last chance to work peacefully.”

Blair also said it was “vitally important” for coalition troops to remain in Iraq “until the job is done.”

“That is vitally important. If we defeat these insurgents and terrorists in Iraq _ and we’ll only defeat them with the Iraqi people _ we will beat that terrorism and insurgency worldwide,” he said.

“The most important thing we can do in Iraq is concentrate on the fact … that what is happening there is a monumental battle that affects our own security,” Blair said.

“You’ve got every bad element in the whole of the Middle East in Iraq trying to stop that country (from getting) on its feet and (becoming) a democracy.

“The world for both of us changed after Sept. 11,” Blair said. “What happened for me after Sept. 11 is that the balance of risk changed. I took the view that if these people ever got hold of nuclear, chemical or biological capability, they would probably use it.”

Sept. 11 “changed the whole picture. It changed the politics of how we dealt with the threat. And I still believe in a time to come it will be seen as important that we took that decision.”

Let the snark be with you:

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