Saturday, Apr 19, 2003
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By Hasan Suroor
``There were moments when it looked like we were getting bogged down...and you were worried how long this was going to go. Had we miscalculated the (Iraqi) resistance? I was worried and pondering a lot of the time what was going to happen,'' he told The Sun newspaper.
In remarks, which show that for all his posturing he was not confident of winning his own MPs' support for the war, Mr. Blair said that in the run-up to last month's crucial vote in the Commons he had authorised his officials to prepare for his resignation fearing that he might lose the vote.
He also told his children that he might have to leave Downing Street.
``I did sit down with them at one point and I explained that this was going to be extremely difficult and it was possible then that the thing (the vote) could go against me,'' Mr. Blair said admitting that his children were extremely `worried' by media reports of the hostility to his stance on Iraq. His college-going son, Euan, was "on the phone virtually every night'' as the mood in Downing Street darkened.
While Mr. Blair justified his decision to join the U.S. attack on Iraq, he acknowledged that he knew he was putting a "whole lot of people's lives'' in danger and his own premiership "on the line''.
"What I found stressful about the situation was, you are taking a decision that is going to affect a whole lot of people's lives. In some cases it is going to result in their deaths... In the end if you lose your premiership, well, you lose it,'' he said but insisted that he believed what he was doing was right.
Mr. Blair said the row with France and arguments with his own MPs were "exhausting and stressful'' but once he had made what he thought was the right decision he "never lost any sleep over all the hassle and the abuse and disagreement and the wrangling.''
In an indirect criticism of the U.N. Security Council members who opposed the war, he said if the U.N. had "given a strong and unified ultimatum to Saddam, it is possible we could have avoided conflict''.
He said he felt a "sense of tragedy'' that it had not been possible to avoid `bloodshed'.
Mr. Blair sounded defensive when asked about Iraq's allegedly deadly arsenal-the avowed reason for the invasion-and merely said "...we will find the weapons of mass destruction''.
He said he had no clue whether Saddam Hussein was dead or alive but thought that the fact his regime had been toppled was itself a great achievement.
He said he felt `joy' when he saw Mr. Hussein's statue in Baghdad fall.
"I felt pleased people were able to see the most visible expression of what it was like to live in a police state with a whole lot of security, people who took you out and cut your tongue out if you dared say something about Saddam.''
Mr. Blair sharply distanced himself from Washington's threatening stance over Syria, and said: "We are not going to invade Syria. We are not putting Syria up as the next case.''
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