Saturday, February 24

Aznar: “I am not going to apologize” for having supported the invasion of Iraq


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The former Spanish president declares himself “completely proud” of his decision

The former President of the Government and President of the Atlantic Institute of Government, IADG, José María Aznar.David MudarraPP
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When there is a month and a half left for them to be fulfilled 20 years after the invasion of Iraqthe former Spanish president José María Aznar has no doubts that the war was necessary and affirms that “if today I had the same information [sobre el Irak de Sadam Husein que en 2003] I would make the same decision again”. In an interview given to the ‘One Decision’ podcast, Aznar insisted that “I am not going to apologize for having supported the United States” in the conflict and declared himself “completely proud” of it.

When the interviewer asks him about the fact that Iraq was not related to 9/11 and did not have weapons of mass destruction when the invasion took place, the former head of the Spanish government replied that “it is one thing to have direct responsibility for 9/11.” -S and another that 9/11 will not totally change the war on terror. “The world is better off without Saddam Hussein, who was a murderous dictator, had tried to get nuclear weapons, and invaded his neighbors,” concludes Aznar.

The former Spanish president sees Spain’s support for the invasion and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as part of the country’s commitment to transatlantic relations, which he considers key to world stability. “If there was no NATO, if there was no ability for the Europeans and the Americans to act together, the situation in Europe and the situation in Ukraine would be much, much worse today.” Spain did not participate in the invasion of Iraq, but he supported it diplomatically in different forums, including the United Nations, and later sent troops to occupy the country. The 11-M attacks. that brought about the electoral victory of José Luis Rodrgue Zapatero led to the Spanish withdrawal from the country and a crisis in relations with the US government headed by George W. Bush.

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“[En Espaa] We have always considered that the most important moments in our history were in the Atlantic. And, for a country like Spain, which is a member of the EU, to be a good European is to be a good Atlantic ally,” says Aznar. “This idea is what transformed our relationship with the United States and the United Kingdom” during his two years in office. mandates, as stated in the podcast.

The idea of ​​transatlantic solidarity appears again and again in the interview, in which Aznar affirms that “how is it possible that I ask for solidarity from the United States in my own fight against terrorism in Spain if I cannot offer my own solidarity to USA?”. In June 2001, George W. Bush visited Madrid, in a meeting in which he and Aznar agreed that the United States collaborate in the fight against ETA through electronic surveillance systems of the communications of the terrorists, who had their base of operations in France.

Aznar affirms that the military operation was an indisputable success, and that he never had any doubts about it, but he does admit certain reservations about the ‘day after’ the victory. This resulted in the disintegration of Iraq in a sectarian war in which hundreds of thousands died – according to some estimates, up to a million – people, including several thousand foreign soldiers among whom, according to the portal icasualties.org there are 11 Spaniards.

Aznar also has a reflection for the victims, both Spanish and Iraqi, Americans, and other nationalities, who caused the conflict. “I think a lot about them, but I think that the responsibility of the leaders does not change with these circumstances,” he declares. In his opinion, it is a matter of leadership. “To have a feeling of closeness to these people who have suffered the consequences [de la invasin] it is not incompatible with making a decision that tried to improve the world. That is the responsibility of the leaders”, he concludes. The former Spanish president also makes a reflection on leadership when, remembering “my friend Henry Kissinger”, for whom “all leaders are in transit between the past, which is the history of their countries, and the future, which is a strategic idea about the future”.

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The mistakes in the occupation of Iraq are not the only ones that Aznar sees in US policy in the Middle East, although he mostly attributes them to the Democratic presidents. Among them are the withdrawal from Iraq decided by Barack Obama and from Afghanistan negotiated by Donald Trump and executed by Joe Biden. And the nuclear agreement between the international community -directed by Washington- and Iran which, he qualifies, “is not a question of whether an agreement is desirable or not, but whether that agreement is good or not.”

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