There has been some talk that the United States needs to take the “spoils of war,” especially regarding Middle eastern oil, as part of our various military interventions. This is a terrible idea, for a lot of reasons. First, foremost and primarily, plundering the wealth of a defeated enemy is a war crime. The victor is not permitted to take the “spoils” of war under international law, including treating signed by these United States. Pillage is prohibited by the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention.
Of course, the Bible also commands “Thou shalt not steal,” which is important for those who claim to be Christians. Even if international law did not ban pillage, Almighty God does prohibit it in His Word. We know from Romans 13 that all earthly authorities derive their power from God, so they are to obey His Word in how they use that authority. God will judge those who abuse the authority He gives them.
Even beyond the fact that it is illegal under the laws of God and man, pillage is an incredibly stupid foreign policy for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious is that the United States does not need to pillage defeated enemies in order to defray costs of war. Yes, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was expensive, but we do not need to steal the Iraqis’ oil to pay for it. We are an obscenely wealthy country and we can absorb the costs of the war and occupation. Stealing Iraq’s national resources would be nothing but pure vindictiveness, for a preemptive war of choice on a nation that did not attack us.
Pillage would also destroy our moral authority and put us in the same category as our enemies. We fought a war in 1991 because Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait for the sole purpose of pillage. We are rightly horrified by Boko Haram kidnapping pre-teen and teenage girls as “spoils of war,” for forced marriage and rape. One of the things that was so monstrous about the Holocaust was that the Nazis even went so far as to steal the gold from their victims’ teeth after they had slaughtered them. We would be placing ourselves in the same category as those wicked regimes by making pillage official policy. We are also going to create more enemies if we become a nation of pillage.
Those who propose pillage are fundamentally un-serious, ignorant people who do not understand international law or U.S. law, or the effect it would have on our relationships with our allies or future enemies. This proposal should not be taken seriously by anyone, and those who actually advocate pillage should be mocked, shamed and condemned until they have the good sense to recant this wicked policy.