Liverpool Law Review

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 197-208

First online:

Just War and Military Morale: A Brief Reflection on the Correlation Between the Legality of War and the Moral Repercussions for Members of US and UK Forces Arising from the Questionable Legality of the Campaign Iraqi Freedom of March 2003

  • Sascha-Dominik BachmannAffiliated withSchool of Law, University of Portsmouth Email author 

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Does it matter to a member of the military whether the military campaign in which he is taking part is lawful or not? Despite the observation that the crime of aggression (post Kampala 2010) constitutes a ‘leadership crime par excellence,’ which limits any (future) criminal responsibility accordingly, the legality or illegality of any military action under international law can create moral implications for the common foot soldier and mid-level officer and also have a tangible impact on the national legal frameworks under which these forces operate. This short article uses the example of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003) to discuss the repercussions of a—most likely—illegal military campaign for individual members of democratic armed forces before the background of the present discussion of NATO led action in Libya.


Armed conflict Legality of the use of force Military morale Court martials Operation Iraqi freedom Crime of aggression