NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. RIght Not To Back International Criminal Court

May 8, 2002

The Hague-based International Criminal Court will begin operation July 1, 2002, but observers are cheering the fact it will do so without U.S. participation after the Bush administration withdrew the support originally extended by the Clinton administration.

The court, formally intended for the punishment of war crimes and genocide, also allows indictment for the open-ended offense of "aggression." But aggression is in the eye of the ICC prosecutors, and is open to political interpretation. This raises a number of concerns, for example:

  • Americans, by virtue of America's international reach, certainly would become in due course targets of the prosecutors at the ICC.
  • For example, charges could be brought against Gen. Tommy Franks for destruction of al Qaeda-owned property in Kabul, or Donald Rumsfeld if and when the U.S. invades Iraq.
  • An embassy guard, consular official or visiting businessman could be arrested on a trumped-up charge and then extradited to ICC authority and a highly publicized trial with the object of humiliating the U.S.
  • For that matter, an ex-Israeli prime minister like Ariel Sharon could be indicted by a Palestinian-sympathizing prosecutor in Asia, Africa or Europe.

Fifty-seven years of experience with the United Nations, observers say, have confirmed that justice -- in practical terms if not necessarily in spirit -- is best left to independent states. Sovereignty is a tool not for relieving others of their rights, but for protecting Americans in the exercise of theirs.

Source: William Murchison, "Bush Right to Quash International Criminal Court," Dallas Morning News, May 8, 2002.


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