'Bring a Bag!' Was Iraq war a war crime?

Date: 
Friday, 08 July, 2016

The publication of the Chilcott report has prompted fresh discussion on whether the war was legally justified and whether Tony Blair and other key figures could face prosecution for war crimes.

Writing in the British Journal of Criminology (BJC) in 2007, Professor David Whyte of the University of Liverpool focused on the aftermath of the war.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) that ran Iraq following the toppling of Saddam Hussein, he argued, tolerated and participated in 'the theft of public funds in Iraq', notably its oil revenues. Indeed, in Whyte's view, the 'scale and intensity of the appropriation of Iraqi oil revenue makes the 2003 invasion one of the most audacious and spectacular crimes of theft in modern history'.

In July 2003, for instance, a CPA officer instructed a private contractor on the method for collecting Iraqi oil revenues from the former Presidential Palace in Baghdad: 'Bring a Bag!'.

Professor Whyte concludes that  'future Iraqi governments may have a legitimate claim... for reparations and compensation accrued by the illegal policies embarked upon by the CPA'.

Also in BJC, Ronald Kramer and Raymond Michalowski wrote about the Iraq war in 2005. They argued that the war violated the UN Charter and international humanitarian law and was driven by US imperial ambitions.