Joining World Court a bad idea for U.S.
Both the House and the Senate have already passed the measure and it is now before a conference committee, which is looking at a larger counter-terrorism bill.
One premise of the World Court is that anyone who commits a war crime, a crime against humanity or genocide now risks being tried before the first-ever International Criminal Court. Although not actually functional yet, the jurisdiction of the court was effective July 1.
But is the ICC good for America?
Recall that the Kyoto Treaty was endorsed by almost the entire world, including the European Union, with the dissenters being the U.S. and Australia. The United States rejected the treaty primarily because of its potential to do damage to our economy. Recall, too, it was only at the 11th hour that the treaty was found to be environmentally unsound. Like the Kyoto Treaty, the International Criminal Court is flawed.
The Dutch, who have long been one our staunchest allies, have called our response to the ICC ridiculous and illegal. Many in Europe feel the same. While being decried as American elitism, it’s actually something much more fundamental. It’s a manifestation of our sovereignty. The reason that Congress enacted the measure was to protect American citizens (re: soldiers) around the world.
Proponents insist that the ICC contains more guarantees than our criminal justice system. Perhaps, but in my mind what doesn’t comport is that three-fourths of the countries endorsing the court don’t subscribe to trial by jury and operate from a very different legal and social paradigm.
The United States has more global responsibilities than any other nation and concomitantly more exposure to accusations of wrongdoing. Which is exactly why the president has demanded that we be exempt from the World Court for Americans involved in U.N. peacekeeping missions.
M. Cherif, the president of The International Human Rights Law Institute at De Paul University and the man who chaired the U.N. committee that drafted the ICC statutes said, “The ICC is not a threat to U.S. military operations conducted abroad if they are conducted in accordance with international and U.S. law.”
I believe Mr. Bassiouni is sincere in his comments, but if his statement is accurate, how is it that the prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal recommended that the United States be charged with war crimes in connection with the 11-week bombing campaign in Kosovo in the spring of 1999?
That allegation was subsequently dropped and it was Slobodan Milosevic, not Bill Clinton who was charged and extradited to The Hague, but the very fact that the U.S. was even considered the malefactor in the U.N. operation is both frightening and ridiculous.
Many nations from Europe to the Middle East believe they are spiritually superior to us but find themselves economically, politically and militarily in our shadow. Being the only superpower has placed our nation in the unique position of being the object of jealously in a world where half the population has yet to make a first phone call.
Many world leaders alternately call us politically ingenuous or arrogant, but they conveniently forget that the United States didn’t spawn the Spanish Inquisition. Nor did we allow the likes of Lenin, Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Milosvic and Saddam Hussein to come to power.
The ICC is primarily a European notion. But before we buy into another European conception, it’s wise to consider that during the last century – for reasons of liberation, destiny, emancipation, and elimination of tyranny – Europeans and Middle-Eastern leaders have managed to kill over 100 million people in the best interests of humanity.
I’m not denigrating the cultures of the Old World. Their achievements in art, literature, music, architecture and science have been spectacular. If not for these nations most of us wouldn’t be here today.
However, the World Court is ill defined, it does not have a clear mission, and most importantly, it is not underpinned by any body of law as the U.S. criminal justice system is. Until those criteria are met, I support the Congress and our president in staying away from an agreement that would be disadvantageous to our interests.
Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily.