TEN years ago this month I was in Iraq as Shock and Awe – the opening bombardment of Baghdad – signalled the start of the invasion and war that was to follow.

Listening to explosions rattle the windows and walls of the hotel in which I was staying, I remember thinking how I might look back on that moment in years to come.

This month, as the world marks the anniversary of that invasion, there remains for me an indelible mix of sights, sounds and smells associated with those dramatic days.

I will, for example, never be able to erase from my mind's eye the orange glow from the bomb bursts reflecting on the waters of the Tigris river or the plumes of black smoke rising from the burning oil wells in the weeks that followed .

Then there was the chilling atmosphere that still lingered inside the newly liberated cells of an Iraqi secret police jail, the bundles of Iraqi dinar notes fluttering from a looted bank in Mosul and stench of blood from bodies lying on the anarchic streets of Kirkuk.

Watching Tony Blair being interviewed this week about the Iraq war for the BBC's Newsnight programme, I found myself wondering what our former Prime Minister's own private memories are of the war that he took our country and others into.

In his memoirs, Mr Blair has said he "thinks of those who died in Iraq every day of this life", but on the reasons for going to war he remains unrepentant.

"I've long since given up trying to persuade people it was the right decision," insisted Mr Blair in response to a question from interviewer Kirsty Wark on the motives for the invasion.

It was a typically duplicitous Blair reply, given that for the rest of the programme he went on to do just that – time and again finding spurious reasoning to make his case for a war that conservative estimates say cost the lives of 100,000 Iraqis and 179 British servicemen and women.

But aside from Mr Blair's now tiresome go-to-war mantra, two other issues dominated the questions and answers that followed.

The first concerned the legacy of the war on Iraq itself. The second was whether future intervention in the region – notably regarding Syria and Iran – is in the offing and would be a smart move in light of the Iraq debacle.

To be fair, Mr Blair did at least admit the outcome for Iraq a decade on has not entirely been to his liking.

But to listen to him say that getting rid of Saddam Hussein's regime was the easy part and that the real problems only came afterwards was, frankly, insulting.

It's hardly surprising Iraq has some way to go yet in getting out of its post-war mess given Mr Blair – in his headlong rush to make war on the country – failed abysmally by not having what one recent commentator rightly called an "after day plan".

If the real meaning of liberation is that people have the chance to live without fear, then Iraq – while on the right track – is a long way from being liberated.

For most ordinary Iraqis, the real test of the "coalition of the willing" that came ostensibly to free them from Saddam's tyranny was its willingness and ability to leave behind a peace that endured.

Ten years ago in the chaos that gripped Kirkuk, one shop owner put it to me succinctly as he stood powerless to stop looters emptying his store: "Look around you. The coalition soldiers are making safe the oilfields, but are they making safe our lives?"

Given this failure to ensure a viable post-war plan aimed at consolidating peace, it was inevitable Iraq would continue to be bedevilled by sectarian strife between its Sunni, Shia and Kurdish communities, and that is certainly the case right now.

You have to hand it to Mr Blair too when it comes to his clever and convenient conflation of unconnected events as justification for his past warmongering.

He supports the Arab Spring revolutions, only to add it would have been so much more difficult for similar revolutionaries in Iraq had they themselves risen up only to be confronted by Saddam's regime head on.

Fortunately, that was not necessary because, yes you guessed it, crusading Mr Blair did that part for them.

Let's be under no illusions about this. There is no way Mr Blair's war in Iraq did any favours for those latterly engaged in the Arab Spring uprisings, and for Mr Blair to attest so is yet further proof of his self-delusion.

Not content to claim credit for giving a helping hand to the Arab Spring, Mr Blair also made the most wonderfully eloquent humanitarian case for going into Iraq. The only problem with this, of course, is that no-one I know recalls him making that case 10 years ago at the time.

Not only was Mr Blair's Iraq adventure as far removed from the humanitarian cause as it's possible to get, but its legacy has effectively stymied any recognition or desire for genuine and legitimate humanitarian intervention, should it be required in the future.

Make the case for going into Syria on humanitarian grounds these days and most people simply respond by reeling off the lessons learned from Iraq, even if the two situations are hardly comparable.

Mr Blair insists "we should be taking a far stronger line on Syria", and that not to do so means "we are going to end up with a very big problem further down the line".

However, given his past track record in the Middle East, just what does "taking a far stronger line" actually mean?

If ever an action caused bigger problems further down the line it was his decision to go into Iraq.

Challenged in the interview on what kind of mandate or legal basis would be required for military action in Syria, Mr Blair dismissed the role of the UN as readily now as he did back in the days leading up to the Iraq war.

The mistake, he insists, is that "sometimes we look at the UN Security Council as if it were the supreme court of justice". On that issue I might concede Mr Blair has a point, but coming from him it smacks of an all-too familiar arrogance that 10 years ago helped lead us into the Iraq maelstrom.

A decade may have passed but the lessons from that time have done little to temper Mr Blair's stubborn refusal to admit he was wrong.

I hope he sleeps easier in bed at night than I do whenever I remember those dark days in the wake of Shock and Awe.