Video: Protesters, police clash at Tony Blair book tour

  1. Closed captioning of: Protesters, police clash at Tony Blair book tour

    >>> blair is revealing a new memoir this week.

    in "a journey: my political life ," he dishes on his ten years as prime minister and behind-the-scenes with leaders of the u.s. the book is already a best-seller on both sides of the atlantic, not a hit with everybody. in island today anti-war protesters threw shoes and eggs at blair and chanted he had blood on his hands. michael elliot, is deputy managing editor of "time" magazine. you can find an essay in this week's issue of "time" magazine. i'm a little surprised at the reception he got in ireland . good to say he wasn't hit by anything.

    >> he's a controversial figure in europe, also in britain and ireland . for all the political achievements of tony blair which i think are many, there is a significant population in ireland that only sees him through the prism of the iraq war . the iraq war is very unpopular in europe.

    >> i'm curious about his opinion on president obama . they have met and here is what he says of the president. this is a man with steel in every part of his. in his own way every bit as tough as george, meaning george bush . the president is dealing with prime minister david cameron , not tony blair . your sense that the u.s.-u.k. relationship and tony blair 's take on president obama .

    >> i think blair genuinely admires obama . i think he thinks he has a mental toughness he finds quite admirable. i spoke on the phone to blair a few day ago and he made a point of saying to me how much he admired obama 's decision to start doing middle east peace talks early in his administration rather than later. blair gave his time to work things through. what he doesn't talk about in his passages in obama is what he does talk about on clinton , and that is this wonderful political touch that he constantly refers to when he's talking about clinton . and that's not evident when he's talking about obama . his admiration of obama is the sense that he is intellectually tough, that he knows what he wants to do and i think all of that blair finds quite interesting .

    >> do you think were he still the prime minister of the uk , he would get along well with president obama ?

    >> oh, sure. absolutely. i think the depth and the frequency of the contact between the political leaders in the u.s. and the u.k. continues virtually -- it virtually doesn't matter what political tradition it is two leaders come from. they talk to each other, they have a lot in common and almost always they find ways to get along. i'm not sure blair would have found a way to get along with obama .

    >> he got along famously with bill clinton . there's clear chemistry. surprisingly for many that observed the relationships across the pond here, he got along well with george bush and they're diametrically opposed types.

    >> came from very, very different personal backgrounds and positions. yet they found something that enabled them to bond with each other. i think what blair really admired about bush was his calmness under fire. he talks about this over and over and over again in the book, the sense that bush was very, very rooted, he knew what he wanted to do and that kind of gave him a serenity and calm which blair at one point says i only got right at the very end of my time in office which made him completely comfortable with the decisions he had to make. there's a marvelous passage in the book where blair is with bush in the white house on september 20th , 2001 right before he goes to the huge speak to congress. blair turns to bush and says, are you nervous? and he says, not really. i've written a speech. it says what i wanted to say. i think blair found that quite extraordinary. and also praise-worthy. there's a terrific passage when he say it is most stupid thing that anyone ever said is that george bush is stupid. and he goes on to say you can't be dumb to be president and all the way --

    >> he talks about president bush as a man of conviction. he talks about president clinton as a man who absolutely got politics.

    >> there are two aspects of his admiration for clinton . one, just like obama , he thinks clinton has this worked out idea of what you go into politics for, a sort of intellectual mindset that helps guide your decisions as political leader. the other thing that clinton has that he talks about all the time is this common touch, this ability to smooz with people and make them feel good which, of course, he was a master at.

    >> he was an absolute master of that. we'll have you come back michael and talk

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/4/2010 7:11:42 PM ET 2010-09-04T23:11:42

Protesters hurled shoes and eggs Saturday at Tony Blair who held the first public signing of his memoir amid high security in Ireland's capital. Hundreds more people lined up to have their books autographed — evidence that the divisions left by Blair's decade as British leader have yet to heal.

Blair's new book, "A Journey," is a best-seller, but it has angered opponents of his policies, especially the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

About 200 demonstrators chanted that Blair had "blood on his hands" as the former prime minister arrived at a Dublin bookstore. Shoes, eggs and other projectiles were thrown toward Blair as he emerged from a car, but did not hit him. A flip-flop could be seen lying on the roof of a BMW in Blair's motorcade.

More than 300 people had lined up to get a copy of his memoirs signed, the BBC reported.

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Security was tight, with book buyers — who appeared to outnumber the protesters by about two to one — told to hand over bags and mobile phones before entering Eason's bookstore on O'Connell Street, Dublin's main shopping thoroughfare.

There were scuffles between police and demonstrators when some tried to force their way through the security cordon. Two protesters were bundled into the back of a security van. Several demonstrators, including one wheelchair user, laid themselves in the van's path, and riot police were brought in to remove them.

Police said four men were arrested and charged with public order offenses.

According to Sky News, protesters also shouted "Hey hey Tony hey, how many kids have you killed today?", "Arrest the butcher!" and branded Blair a "war criminal" as he arrived at the shop.

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Blair spent about two hours in the store before emerging to more shouts, boos and hurled eggs. He was quickly driven away, as a police helicopter circled overhead.

"Blair took the world to war in Iraq and Afghanistan on the basis of lies," protester Donal MacFhearraigh said. He said Blair should be indicted as a war criminal.

Another protester, 24-year-old Kate O'Sullivan, said she was taken away by security guards after approaching Blair in the store and trying to perform a citizen's arrest.

Confrontation erupted again once Blair had left, as police stopped demonstrators from entering the bookstore. Many of the demonstrators then marched to the police station where those arrested were being held to continue their protest there.

Despite the protests, Blair is popular with many in Ireland for his role in forging the 1998 Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland, and several hundred people lined up in the rain to have their copies of "A Journey" autographed.

"I appreciate what he did for Irish politics, particularly along the border. That's why I've come," retiree Maureen Hedderman told the Press Association news agency.

Released this week, "A Journey" is Amazon's best-selling title in Britain, and has climbed into the top 10 on the online retailer's U.S. chart.

Blair was paid a 4 million pound ($7 million) advance for the memoir, which mounts a strong defense of his policies during his years as prime minister from 1997 to 2007, including the invasion of Iraq.

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Blair says in the book that he is not sorry for his decision to enter the U.S.-led war, although he has wept for its victims. He is donating all proceeds from the book to a charity for wounded troops.

In an interview aired Saturday, Blair rejected claims that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan had increased Muslim radicalization, saying "wicked and backward-looking" radical Islam is the greatest threat to global security.

Blair told the BBC World Service "the biggest threat in international security is this broader radicalized movement, because I think it is rather similar to revolutionary communism."

He said al-Qaida-linked extremism was "loosely a global ideological movement, but Iran is a state sponsor of it."

The Associated Press, Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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