Wait a sec, is this REALLY the message the US wants to send to the rest of the world?

I’m referring to http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/05/05/international.criminal.court/index.html]this story. I’m more specifically referring to the following:

Now maybe this time, we had legitimate reasons. Maybe Powell’s assessment of Clinton’s intentions are right. Maybe, just MAYBE, this was a good thing the Bush administration did.

But did they REALLY have to out and SAY, to a news media source the whole frickin’ WORLD checks out, in NO uncertain terms, that our signature on treaties doesn’t mean jack SQUAT?!?

This is probably why the administration offical is unnamed. Sheesh, I thought Bush was gonna surround himself with SMART people…

Ooops. I could’ve sworn that the preview said that link was OK. Can some kind, generous mod fix it, and delete this followup? Otherwise, here it is again:


My bad.

Why not? The constitution agrees that the president signing a piece of paper doesn’t constitute the US agreeing to a treaty. The US will only follow a treaty that has been ratified by the Senate, as that is what our law says. Let’s make it clear: the president of the US doesn’t have the authority to enter the US into a treaty, said treaty has to be approved by the Senate or it may as well be toilet paper.

It is dumb, but I don’t know enough about international treaties to know what has to be done for something to be official. Since the Senate didn’t ratify it (and thankfully didn’t have the chance to un-ratify it), was it binding? This isn’t our signature on the treaty, is it?

If Bush signs a stupid treaty without any public or government support, is it binding? I hope not.

As a sidenote, does the casual use of “…” in this type of story worry anyone else? It’s pretty easy to change the meaning of a quote by just eliminating a few words.

Damn. Forget me, and the first two paragraphs of my reply…

While Í’m not going to argue with that, I do find it very strange that the US is so keen to get out of this particular treaty. After all, all you have to do to prevent yourself from ever having to appear before the International Criminal Court is not committing mass genocide and the like. How fucking hard can THAT be?

Which leads to the question: what is Bush planning to do that Clinton never anticipated?

I’m the last person to come up with crackpot conspiracy theories, but the combination of the whole battle against the Axis of Evil and the backpaddling out of this treaty is a tad disconscerting to the outside world. Well, at least to me.

That would depend on who is defining ‘crimes of aggression’ at the moment. The language is too vague given the extent to which the US meddles in the affairs of other countries. Take as an example the desire of the US government to eradicate all the coca and marijuana fields of the earth. How can we drop planeloads of defoliant on these areas without committing ‘acts of aggression’ on the surrounding populace? Easy enough. Change (or ignore) the law to suit the effort. The US expects the same level of self-accountability with regard to the ‘War on Terror’ that it has come to expect with the ‘War on Drug Users’…NONE.

Not got time to research this just now but, if memory serves, the original objection the US had to the ICC was that it would expose US military personnel, alleged to have committed crimes, to judgement and potential punishment by an independent/international court – not sure how that sits with the US Constitution (although, I think, not well).

Treaties usually have some kind of “escape” clause which allows the signatory nations to withdraw after having given due notice anyway, so they aren’t binding in perpetuity even when they have been ratified by the legislature. If they were, no nation would ever sign them.

hobgoblin, I see what you mean. But IMHO there’s a vast difference between trying to stop the production of drugs in another country (ridiculous as that may be) and killing off large masses of people because of their ethnicity (as in Kosovo, for example). I’m sure the ICC will see a difference as well.

And of course the laws and regulations set out by the ICC are “vague”. Have you ever seen a law that doesn’t try to be as broadly interpretable as possible?

My understanding: The ICC is a core component of the evolving legal framework many in the international community wanted to see after the inertia/debacle of Bosnia. The War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague was in some ways easier and more readily put in place. That was step one.

The ICC, while evolved as a concept, still needs a lot of work – countries are signing up to the broad principles at the moment (one assumes the details will not be dissimilar to the European Convention on Human Rights, but put in a international and criminal context).

http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/pages/ICChome - tells the tale.

One of the immediate problems is that the US is encouraging all and sundry to become involved in the ‘war on terrorism’ - especially this developing plan for ousting Saddam – and, should other countries like the UK become involved, their military will potentially be subject to a whole different regime of scrutiny and potential punishment than will US forces – which is odd, to say the very least, if you’re fighting side-by-side and urging others to join you.

Still, IMHO, all this pales into insignificance, compared with Kyoto.

Well said. Speaks volumes about us as a society, doesn’t it? Whether we’re ‘guilty’ or not oftentimes depends on whether (and whom) it serves for us to be found guilty.

“Us as a society”, being what? The US? “The West”? The UN?

I was merely trying to say that laws are often by definition designed to be cover-alls. As far as I know, this is a global phenomenon not restricted to any country or society.

Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is another debate.