For the first time since it began operating in 2002, the International Criminal Court has put the U.S. in its sights. On Nov. 3, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda initiated an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan since mid-2003. This raises the alarming possibility that the court will seek to assert jurisdiction over American citizens.
Located in The Hague (alongside such dinosaurThe Hague Aims for U.S. Soldiers by John R. Boltons as the International Court of Justice, which decides state-versus-state disputes), the ICC constitutes a direct assault on the concept of national sovereignty, especially that of constitutional, representative governments like the United States. The Trump administration should not respond to Ms. Bensouda in any way that acknowledges the ICC’s legitimacy. Even merely contesting its jurisdiction risks drawing the U.S. deeper into the quicksand.
|The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)|
The left will try to intimidate the White House by insisting that any resistance to the ICC aligns the U.S. with human-rights violators. But the administration’s real alignment should be with the U.S. Constitution, not the global elite. It would not be “pragmatic” to accept the ICC; it would be toxic to democratic sovereignty.
The U.S. is not party to the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC’s authority. Bill Clinton signed it in 2000, when he was a lame duck. But fearing certain rejection, he did not submit it to the Senate. The Bush administration formally “unsigned” in 2002 before the Rome Statute entered into force. That same year, Congress passed supportive legislation protecting U.S. servicemembers from the ICC, a law that was decried by hysterical opponents as the “Hague Invasion Act.” The U.S. then entered into more than 100 bilateral agreements committing other nations not to deliver Americans into the ICC’s custody.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice later weakened America’s opposition to the ICC. Barack Obama manifestly longed to join but nonetheless did not re-sign the Rome Statute. Thus the U.S. has never acknowledged the ICC’s jurisdiction, and it should not start now. America’s long-term security depends on refusing to recognize an iota of legitimacy in this brazen effort to subordinate democratic nations to the unaccountable melding of executive and judicial authority in the ICC.
Proponents of global governance have always wanted to turn the U.S. into just another pliant “member” of the United Nations General Assembly or the ICC. They know that America’s exceptionalism and commitment to its Constitution were among their biggest obstacles, but they hoped to cajole Washington into joining one day. The new Afghanistan investigation demonstrates why that vision needs to be confronted now and conclusively defeated.
The U.S. has done more than any other nation to instill in its civilian-controlled military a respect for human rights and the laws of war. When American servicemembers violate their doctrine and training—which can happen in any human institution—the U.S. is perfectly capable of applying our own laws to their conduct. These laws and procedures do not need to be second-guessed by international courts, especially ones that violate basic rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, like trial by jury.
Moreover, the Rome Statute’s real targets always have been not merely individual soldiers accused of war crimes, but their commanders and political leaders—all the way to the commander in chief of the global hegemon (as they resentfully see it). The White House should not facilitate these efforts to constrain and inhibit its ability to defend Americans.
The ICC prosecutor is an internationalized version of America’s “independent counsel,” a role originally established in the wake of Watergate and later allowed to lapse (but now revived under Justice Department regulations in the form of a “special counsel”). Similarly, the ICC’s prosecutors are dangerously free of accountability and effective supervision. They are not the superhero “Justice League International.”
The ICC fits into no coherent representative government structure, which does not exist internationally. It also fails a critical constitutional test—the separation of powers—in that the executive not only prosecutes but determines guilt or innocence. Decoupling executive and judicial powers is no mere constitutional nicety; it is a critical mechanism for restraining excesses.
The ICC always had dramatically different possible paths. First, it could become yet another embarrassing irrelevancy like the International Court of Justice or the U.N. Human Rights Council. That has been its lot so far. To date, the ICC has been feckless and often in disarray, acquiring the justifiable reputation from its caseload that it was a project by Europeans to prosecute miscreants in their former African colonies. Burundi recently withdrew from the ICC, and others have come close.
Second, the ICC could go rogue—which is what the potential prosecution of Americans represents. Pursuing Washington, it seems, finally became too hard for the ICC to resist (having already investigated Israel, which is once again the canary in the mineshaft).
Under the idea of “complementarity,” the ICC could defer to countries that possess responsible law-enforcement mechanisms, which the U.S. assuredly does. There are plenty of real criminal states in the world to keep the ICC busy, if it had the wit to focus on them. That it doesn’t speaks volumes.
America should welcome the opportunity, as in Churchill’s line about Bolshevism, to strangle the ICC in its cradle. At most, the White House should reply to Ms. Bensouda with a terse note: “Dear Madame Prosecutor: You are dead to us. Sincerely, the United States.” Other countries wanted the ICC; let them live with it.
John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.
This article first appeared in The Wall Street Journal and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.
Trump hails ‘big week’ for historic move; ‘Congratulations to all,’ he tweets ahead of May 14 opening
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gives a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on May 11, 2018, ahead of its opening on May 14 (Screenshot)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday gave a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, showing off workers erecting the official seal on the building and preparing for the opening ceremony.
“We are so excited,” Friedman said in a video posted on the embassy’s Facebook page. “We have the official seal of the United States embassy. We have the dedication plaque. They are covered right now, but on Monday they are going to be unveiled.”
‘Next time in Jerusalem,’ jubilant Barzilai yells after victory; ‘Toy’ marks Israel’s 4th win; hundreds jump in Rabin Square fountain to celebrate; PM calls her ‘best ambassador’
Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/ Francisco LEONG)
Israel won the Eurovision song contest for the first time in two decades Saturday as singer Netta Barzilai clucked and bucked her way to the top of the international song contest with women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”
Backed up by three dancers, her trademark side buns featuring stripes of pink dyed hair to match her pink-and-black outfit, Barzilai busted her way through “Toy” on stage in Lisbon, Portugal, punctuating her singing with her trademark eye rolls and chicken dance moves
Quoted by US president one day, hosted by Russia’s president the next, PM is on a high, including in the polls. But will this encourage his more divisive tendencies?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the Victory Parade marking the 73th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
JTA — On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu began his week by meeting his Cypriot and Greek counterparts to finalize the commercial export to Europe of Israeli gas that he has pushed to exploit for about a decade.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from nuclear deal with Iran was widely seen as a coup for Israel’s prime minister, a fierce opponent of the deal.
The same day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israel seized Iran’s archive of its military nuclear program in Tehran and spirited it to Israel, a video was posted of IDF soldiers singing Soltane Ghalbha, a traditional Persian love song – in Persian.
Taken together, the two events demonstrate the purpose of Netanyahu’s presentation.
Netanyahu’s detractors in the US and Israel called his presentation as a dog and pony show. “He didn’t tell us anything we haven’t known for years,” they sniffed.
Moreover, they insisted, Netanyahu’s presentation was actually counterproductive because he couldn’t show evidence that Iran is in breach of the nuclear deal it concluded in 2015 and so did nothing to persuade the Europeans to abandon the deal.
While US policy-makers are trying desperately to stabilize Afghanistan, a shift is being orchestrated by China.
The Chinese evidently see their role in Afghanistan as the “good cop” versus the U.S. role as “bad cop.” Like Pakistan, China seems to view the Taliban as the political opposition, not as a terrorist organization, and has offered itself as an intermediary to negotiate the departure of the U.S. and, thereby, be in a position to reap the economic and geopolitical benefits of Afghanistan as a client state of the China-Pakistan alliance.
Reuters/Ipsos set a new standard this week when it condemned its own polling as unreliably favorable to the president.
“This week’s Reuters/Ipsos Core Political release presents something of an outlier of our trend,” stated a paragraph that appeared before the press release on its latest polling even began.
“Every series of polls has the occasional outlier, and in our opinion, this is one. So, while we are reporting the findings in the interest of transparency, we will not be announcing the start of a new trend until we have more data to validate this pattern.”
For the sixth Friday in a row, protestors from Gaza came to Israel’s border with intentions to penetrate it. They come with scissors to cut through the fence, with burning tires, Molotov cocktails, slingshots with rocks, and kites with firebombs attached to them to destroy Israeli farmlands and villages.
This is not some peaceful demonstration akin to Selma in the 1960s when blacks were simply trying to sit together with whites at a lunch counter. The usage of the word “demonstrators” is a misnomer; these are “rioters.”
What would happen if the world took Pope Francis’ advice (via a tweet)? “Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war,” said the pontiff.
While on the surface, the disappearance of all weapons might suggest the inability to do violence, in reality, it would mean the certain annihilation of the West as a civilization.
When a Philadelphia Starbucks manager called the police after two black men refused to leave, the chain of events ended with the burnt taste of the overpriced coffee chain colluding with anti-Semitism.
Starbucks reacted to the brief arrest by blaming the police, but Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is African-American, initially said that his officers, “did absolutely nothing wrong”. But then he was forced to offer a bewildering apology to the arrested men, the officers and the entire city.
“It is me who in large part made most of the situation worse than it was,” he announced.
“Your threshing season will last until your grape harvest, and your grape harvest will last until the time you plant. You will have your fill of food, and you will dwell securely in your land” (Vayikra 26:5).
This blessing is promised to the People of Israel on condition that, as a unified nation, they observe the laws of the Torah and live by its spirit. Its promise is quite surprising. Not only will the Israelites have plenty to eat but, as the verse clearly indicates, the Jews will experience an overflow of food. The first season, when produce is brought to the threshing floor, will last until the days of the grape harvest, which in turn will continue into the planting season.