Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says in a new memoir that George W. Bush was a "true idealist" and a man of "genuine integrity and political courage." But Blair, who was Bush's staunchest ally in the Iraq war, reserves his warmest praise for Bill Clinton, calling the former Democratic president his "political soulmate."
In his book, "A Journey,"
Blair says he developed a close business and personal relationship with the conservative Bush following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. He describes Bush as a man of "immense simplicity in how he saw the world" -- his imperative was spreading peace and freedom -- and a decisive leader. Of Dick Cheney, Blair writes that the former vice president took an "unremittingly hard line" on the use of force after 9/11, CNN
To this day, Blair said he does not regard the war in Iraq as a mistake, though it cost him politically in Great Britain and raised questions about his judgment even among friends, the New York Times
said. "Tears, though there have been many," he writes, "do not encompass" the grief over the loss of life in the war. "I feel desperately sorry for them, sorry for the lives cut short, sorry for the families whose bereavement is made worse by the controversy over why their loved ones died, sorry for the utterly unfair selection that the loss should be theirs."
He said he's been unable to satisfy his liberal supporters "who would like me to say, 'It was a mistake but one made in good faith.' Friends opposed to the war think I'm being obstinate; others, less friendly, think I'm delusional. To both, I may say, keep an open mind."
Blair, who left office in 2007 and now serves as an envoy to the Middle East, says Clinton was a "brilliant thinker" and the "most formidable politician I had ever encountered." He even offered a defense of Clinton for his liaison with then-intern Monica Lewinsky. Bill Clinton, Blair said, has an "inordinate interest and curiosity about people," and with women "there was potentially a sexual element. And in that, I doubt he is much different from most of the male population."
"A Journey" was to go on sale in Britain Wednesday, the day after President Obama's speech formally announcing the end of the direct U.S. combat role in Iraq. British forces left combat operations behind in 2009.
Filed Under: George W. Bush
, Middle East
, National Security
, Obama Administration
, Foreign Policy
, Bill Clinton
, Dick Cheney
, Barack Obama
, Bush Administration
, European Union