August 20, 2002


Bush's Court Crusade (Tom Malinowski, August 16, 2002, The Washington Post)
Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine at the start of the 2000 Presidential campaign, George Bush's future national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, promised a "disciplined and consistent foreign policy that separates the important from the trivial." It is becoming hard to square that commitment with the Bush administration's strange and single-minded crusade against the International Criminal Court. [...]

Of course, the administration will argue that this is necessary to protect Americans from a rogue international court. But even if the ICC does go badly wrong, the most powerful nation in the history of the world surely will have the resources to defend itself against 18 judges in Holland who will have no army, police or independent enforcement power. The unlikely possibility that someday, somewhere, some American might be investigated by this court is no reason to threaten allies in the middle of a war, or to sanction fragile democracies whose success is important to America.

Privately, many administration officials see this. But they seem trapped by their anti-ICC rhetoric, unable to end a reckless quest that has done more to hurt America than it could ever do to undermine this court. Those who share the president's original, more pragmatic world view must somehow get this message through: It's time to stop sacrificing the important to the trivial. The ICC tail must stop wagging the dog of American foreign policy.

Don't know about your local paper, but in the one here this column appeared amidst numerous others and letters all announcing that an American attack on saddam Hussein would be completely unjustified under International Law. So here are two questions for "human rights" activists, like Mr. Malinowski, and other supporters of the ICC :
(1) If not Saddam, who?

(2) If not America, who?

If Saddam Hussein is not precisely the kind of person who should be hauled before an International Criminal Court then who should be? And if the internationalist community isn't serious about going and getting such criminals then what's the point of the Court? And, realistically, if the United States doesn't go get such people then who will? After all, the only reason Slobodan Milosevic is on trial at The Hague is because the United States finally intervened in the Balkans. Left to their own devices, the European nations, who are the most vociferous supporters of the ICC, showed absolutely no stomach for even stopping Milosevic from killing people, never mind for arresting him.
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 20, 2002 8:34 AM
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