The Crimes of Neo-Liberal Rule in Occupied Iraq

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Dave Whyte

Dave Whyte

University of Stirling - Department of Applied Social Science

Date Written: March 2007


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. The institutionalisation of corporate corruption that followed the invasion can only be understood within the context of the coalition forces' contempt for universal principles of international law enshrined in the Hague and Geneva treaties. Neo-liberal shock therapy imposed on Iraq by the Anglo-American government of occupation provided momentum to an economic order which privileged the primacy and autonomy of market actors over laws intended to enshrine universal protections for civilian populations in war and conflict. As the US government-appointed auditor has subsequently established, an unknown proportion of Iraqi oil revenue has disappeared into the pockets of contractors and fixers in the form of bribery, over-charging, embezzlement, product substitution, bid rigging and false claims. At least $12 billion of the revenue appropriated by the coalition regime has not been adequately accounted for. This neo-liberal strategy of economic colonization was facilitated by major violations of the international laws of conflict and by unilaterally granting immunity from prosecution to US personnel. The suspension of the normal rule of law by the occupying powers, in turn, encouraged Coalition Provisional Authority tolerance of, and participation in, the theft of public funds in Iraq. State-corporate criminality in the case of occupied Iraq must therefore be understood as part of a wider strategy of political and economic domination.

Suggested Citation

Whyte, Dave, The Crimes of Neo-Liberal Rule in Occupied Iraq (March 2007). The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 47, Issue 2, pp. 177-195, 2007. Available at SSRN: or

Dave Whyte (Contact Author)

University of Stirling - Department of Applied Social Science ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

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