Former British prime minister Tony Blair spoke with Christiane Amanpour on ABC's "This Week" today about his new book, A Journey: My Political Life. In the interview, Blair criticized U.S. actions in Afghanistan, advocated keeping an attack on Iran on the table, and discussed former Vice President Dick Cheney's desire to "remake" the world after September 11.
Blair defended his support for the Iraq war, saying, "If we hadn't taken out Saddam, there would still have been consequences. Now what they are, we don't know. We can have -- I can say I think he would have been a threat competing with Iran, and someone else might say to me, well, actually he would have just been contained. We don't know." He then moved to talk about Iran, saying that if he were still in power, he "wouldn't take the risk" of Iran getting a nuclear weapon and said that an attack has to be an option:
BLAIR: I had someone say to me just literally the other night, they said to me, Come on, look, supposing Iran gets the nuclear weapon. I mean, it's not the end of the world. I mean, why should they want to use it? Why would they want to cause all that destruction? Why would they?
It's a perfectly sensible argument, you know? And who knows? They may be right. All I know is, if I was a decision-maker, I wouldn't take the risk.
AMANPOUR: So what would you do?
BLAIR: I would tell them they can't have it, and if necessary, they will be confronted with stronger sanctions and diplomacy. But if that fails, I'm not taking any option off the table.
AMANPOUR: So you see a military possibility against Iran?
BLAIR: I don't want to see it --
AMANPOUR: But you're saying it has to happen.
BLAIR: I don't want to see it, but I'm saying you cannot exclude it, because the primary -- the primary objective has got to be to prevent them getting a nuclear weapon.
In his book, Blair advocates staying in Afghanistan "as long as is necessary" and said that what is happening is, "Our enemies think they can outlast us. Our enemies aren't alone in thinking that. Our friends do, too. Therefore, the ordinary folk think, I should make my peace with those who are staying, not with those who are going." When Amanpour asked him whether he thinks "the Americans took their eye off the ball there," Blair replied, "Well, I think people thought the thing was on a more benign trajectory than it turned out to be."
Blair also discussed his belief that after the September 11 attacks, Cheney "thought the world had to be made anew and ... it had to be done by force and with urgency." "He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc," writes Blair. In his interview with Amanpour today, Blair elaborated, saying you can't "dismiss" Cheney's view:
BLAIR: He didn't say that in those meetings, but, you know, Dick was always absolutely hard-line on these things. I mean, I think he would openly avow this. His worldview was that the world had to be remade after September the 11th.
But you can't dismiss that Cheney view and say, well, that's just -- that's stupid. It's -- it's not. It may require amendment. You may disagree with it, but...
AMANPOUR: Is it possible?
BLAIR: Well ... it's possible over time, with the right combination of hard and soft power, I think, to get to the point where nations that we regard or did regard as threats become allies. But that is not always going to have a hard power solution to it.