October 02, 2002
The Guardian on the ICC

In today's edition of The Guardian, there is wailing and gnashing of teeth (and venting at the United States, as usual) that the EU has agreed to immunity for US military forces and governmental officials. (To make the point a bit clearer, the EU has agreed not to extradite US personnel to the ICC as long as the US agrees to a trial in the US; this applies primarily to military personnel stationed overseas, such as yours truly). Information about the decision can be found here, in a relatively balanced article. The article I am dissecting is this one.

There can be little doubt that the standing and credibility of the UN's International Criminal Court will be damaged by the EU's decision to agree immunity for US officials and armed forces. The fundamental idea of the court's founding treaty, to which 139 states have now acceded, was after all to establish a universally respected forum in which the most serious offences in international law might be impartially and independently prosecuted. By agreeing to make an exception, the EU has torpedoed that principle. By insisting that it be made, the Bush administration has again shown its haughty antipathy to the concept of an international community of equals and democratically agreed collective action.

The only standing and credibility the ICC had was among starry-eyed one-world idealists who despise the US and everything which it represents. The purpose of the court was not the problem; the problem was the fact that it contravenes the US Constitution, and that it could be used as a pretext to attack American policies (and the US military) at every opportunity. While arrogant anti-American pontificators prattle on about our "haughty antipathy" to the court, they think nothing of expecting us to subvert the foundation of this country.

Not content with refusing to support the ICC, the White House has of late been actively undermining it. US tactics have ranged from threats to boycott peacekeeping missions to telling east European countries that a failure to agree bilateral immunity pacts could harm economic ties and Nato membership.

Every time there is a peacekeeping mission, the US is expected to supply troops. The one-worlders were expecting us to participate in every peacekeeping mission, which broadened the potential exposure for trumped-up war crimes trials, which is unreasonable and unjust. Telling East European countries that we would frown upon certain actions is not unreasonable, it is self-interest; it is POLITICS.

Britain worked hard to assuage US fears that its nationals would be unfairly singled out. Last month, it admitted it had failed.

Britain failed largely because nobody with a functioning brain can believe that the US won't be singled out, so long as it supports Israel, and refuses to let those who support terrorism breathe easily. The ejection of the US from the UN Human Rights Commission was an obvious example of anti-US hostility from those who are nominally our allies.

Now the government has taken the ultra-pragmatic but nevertheless humiliating position of leading the push for EU concessions to avoid further "negative consequences" for transatlantic relations.

The Guardian appears to be saying that the British government is wrong for calling for a compromise. It is apparently only a bad, humiliating thing when it is not the US that kunckles under to demands to surrender its sovereignty.

But there is no guarantee that the US will accept the terms on offer; it may demand more.

The US has repeatedly stated its objections to the ICC, and the objections have not changed. The ICC is still unconstitutional, even with the waiver in place, although the compromise eliminates most of the hurdles. The offer is not good enough because it still subverts the US Constitution (and the rights guaranteed to its citizens) to the whims of an unaccountable international body. The US will reject the offer, and The Guardian will whinge that the US is not playing fair.

This would hardly be surprising since at bottom, its objections are political, not legal. It abhors the ICC's implicit challenge to US constitutional rights and to its recently-promulgated global strategic droit de seigneur.

The political objection is also a legal objection; the Constution codifies and guarantees our rights, many of which are contravened by the ICC. And the last is a typical obnoxious Euro-leftist smear against the American-led effort to rid the world of terrorism. The connotation is baseless and oh-so-smug.

Yet for all that, the EU climbdown and the resulting damage to the ICC cannot simply be blamed on US importunity. It is the familiar outcome of EU members' ongoing failure to construct a centrally directed, binding foreign and security policy and to eschew vain, contradictory national posturing.

The Guardian apparently feels that the EU has not completely obliterated all traces of national identity yet, and they are distressed by that fact. While their attitude may find a receptive audience in Europe, such views will not fly here in the US, which is why they despise us so.

The Bush administration will not be around for ever.

Need I rebut mindless anti-conservatism?

But this is mere clutching at straws. While Europe's disunity persists, it will continue to lose the arguments that matter.

It obviously never occurred to the editors at The Guardian that European disunity might be the result of an honest, principled objection to the positions that the paper and its allies support. There are none so blind as those who will not see...

posted on October 02, 2002 07:00 PM


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