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Is Tony Blair a war criminal?
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Tony Blair's leadership was not defined by the Iraq War

Blair led a government that successfully reduced UK poverty and increased wages. These outweigh his mistakes in Iraq.
Tony Blair United Kingdom War


In the public eye, the Premiership of Tony Blair is widely associated to his engagement in the mobilisation of the UK in the 2003 Iraq invasion alongside the United States. However, it can be debated whether his achievements in national politics can outweigh the criticism that the Iraq war and Tony Blair’s involvement in it has caused.

The Argument

One could argue that Tony Blair shouldn’t be regarded as a war criminal as his leadership was not defined by the Iraq war. The latter war should not overshadow the achievements that Blair’s leadership brought to the UK. The Labour politician served as the Prime Minister of the UK between May 1997 and June 2007 when he resigned due to internal party pressures and low approval ratings. During his Premiership, Blair has been praised for certain policies that have overall led to the development of the UK. As a labour politician we can thus mainly cite social policies strengthening the welfare state. Overall, his policies have has led to a reduction in relative poverty in the UK. For instance, he increased public spending in healthcare and education and introduced a minimum wage in April 1999. Another sector in which Blair is praised for advancing the UK is his efforts in the peace process with Northern-Ireland. The result of his engagement is the so-called Belfast agreement of 1998 also called Good Friday Agreement. The latter has put an end to most political violence in Northern-Ireland. Furthermore, Tony Blair can even be considered as a Civil Rights advocate if we consider what important legislative changes enhancing LGBTQ+ rights in the UK were adopted under his Premiership. The most known measures are for instance the Civil Partnership act of 2004 and the right for transgenders to modify their birth certificates included in the Gender Recognition Act. These advancements in domestic affairs show that the Iraq War cannot be regarded as the defining element of Blairs Premiership. His other achievements weigh higher than the involvement in the Iraq war.

Counter arguments

The Premiership of Blair is defined not only by Iraq but the involvement of the UK in other controversial armed conflicts. Overall, he engaged the UK in five armed conflicts in a six-year period: We can count two interventions in Iraq (one in 1998 and a second time in 2003), Kosovo 1999, Sierra Leone in 2000 and the Afghanistan war of 2001. This heavy engagement can create the impression of a war-driven Prime Minister who as a result should be mainly considered for his engagement in wars. The fact of having advanced national policies within the UK does not justify any breaches with International Law in the context of an armed conflict. It is possible to be a respected politician on the national level whilst being deemed a war criminal at the same time.



The international wrongs committed through the breach of International Law and the involvement in an armed conflict can be outweighed by achievements in domestic affairs.


[P1]Good actions can outweigh actions that are deemed to be negative. [P2]Consequently, there needs to be a qualitative assessment of the outcome of the actions in question to weigh them against each other.

Rejecting the premises

[P1]Good actions cannot outweigh bad ones. [P2] One unjustified action cannot be compensated through other actions, whatever their nature.


This page was last edited on Tuesday, 3 Nov 2020 at 15:12 UTC

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