Was Bush right to withdraw from the International Criminal Court?

The Bush administration pulled out of the U.N.-backed effort to create a permanent international court on war crimes, saying it recognized “no legal obligations” to the court.

On the one hand:

On the other hand:


No, Bush wasn’t right.

He was playing on unfounded fears. US servicemen would likely (and by that I mean 99.9%) NOT be prosecuted under the ICC. The ICC only prosecutes those that have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, etc., against those who have not been prosecuted (or subject to a show trial) in their home country.

So, for example, Lt. Calley of My Lai would not be able to be hauled in front of the ICC because the US subjected him to a fair trial.

I also think it’s a certain irony that the US was voted out of the human rights comission. While countries like Sudan , wich has a slavery, was chosen.

So i think Bush has a leg or two to stand on.

I pose this for your consideration and discussion. Appears to me that Bush was not right and his purported fears ungrounded. Incidentally, I’ve seen the Rome treaty before, and I guess someone can link to it if anyone so desires, and it does provide similar protection as our Bill of Rights.

For information purposes, here’s a link to a range of Amnesty’s fact sheets. They afford a broad understanding of the proposed scope of the ICC:


Also, from here:

"The twentieth century was perhaps the bloodiest in history. Millions of people were victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, extrajudicial executions and “disappearances.” These crimes were committed throughout the world during international and civil wars and in conditions of “peace.”

Despite the extent and horrific nature of the crimes witnessed in the 20th century, shamefully only a handful of perpetrators have ever been brought to justice. The majority of prosecutions were for crimes committed in World War II, and, more recently, in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In these situations the international community established international tribunals to prosecute the most serious cases. In the cases of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the national courts are also conducting some prosecutions. In a small number of cases, national courts in other countries have investigated and prosecuted individuals accused of the crimes who entered their territory ." <snip>

As I understood it, this US Administrations main (public) objection was that the ICC would potentially expose US military personnel to non-US judgement and sentencing. I believe the UK ratified the ICC towards the end of last year, which might make operation cooperation a little tricky in the future.

(a) Seperate Issues, ICC is not UNHRC and visa versa.

(b) No, there is no leg to stand on.

Being a signatory but not ratifier of a treaty only expresses a theoretical support, and has no real practical effect.

The action was a childish pandering to the extreme right in the USA. It had no practical policy effects in re the ICC treaty coming into force, nor US legal position in re the same.

What it did do is unnecessarily reinforce the growing global impression that the US likes to talk ‘international law’, democracy and community of nations when it so suits the US but is unwilling to even pay lipservice when short-term interests are in question. That makes one look rather no better than the scofflaws we rightfully take to task.

Anyone who follows international commentary on this is but depressed. Conservative British commentators, quite literally our closest dearest supporters, are… less-than-supportive of the Bush administrations self-indulgent navel gazing FP. In connexion with another issue, Martin Wolf, a commentator in the Financial Times called Bush, Hypocrite in Chief in today’s commentary – this in regards to the disastrous Farm bill which manages to make EU farm policy look positively liberal (Krugman rightly noted that the Dems deserve much abuse for this as well) but reflecting a larger frustration ex-right wing Neo Con North American whankers, with a FP which seems to have no constancy, indulges in self-indulgent posturing to the detriment of real interests and real long-term policy. Take Kyoto (which long-term readers know I am a severe critic of) and the manner in which it was handled.

I frankly am beginning to regard Bush as complete disaster for long term foreign policy interest for the US. The man is freaking idiot.

Col: I frankly am beginning to regard Bush as complete disaster for long term foreign policy interest for the US.

I hope you’re wrong, but I’m not sanguine. What distresses me most about it is that many people who regarded Bush’s domestic agenda very distrustfully felt that he at least had a redeeming feature in his FP. During 2000 I heard a lot of complaints that Clinton, partly due to his lack of pre-Presidential FP experience, had made some bad mistakes in that regard (which I happen to agree with, but that’s not the point right now), and Bush II would re-establish the superior FP competence of Bush I’s and Reagan’s administrations (which I don’t happen to agree with, but that’s not the point right now).

But with stuff like this “unsigning” of the Rome accord…Bush is gonna have to work some real magic with Sharon on a Middle East solution if he wants to look like a world leader at this point.

I agree with Bush.

The U.N is really more ineffective then anything else and I don’t see how realisticly they could enforce they international rules without massive U.S aid. No, I’d withdraw from the U.N if I had any choice in the matter.

Oddly enough tho, we get barked at for trying to police the world, then get barked at for not enforceing international rules.

What part of ICC not being the UN did you not understand?

The UN is NOT a law enforcement body.

As for withdrawing from the UN, yeah lots of ingoramuses without much of a clue as to the actual purpose of the UN support a withdrawal. They’re ignorant misinformed morons in general.

The US ‘policing’ the world is based on our national interests and hardly based on an objective interpretation of international law, so bloody so some motherfucking homework before posting bloody wastes of electrons.

Moderator’s Note: Hey, Collounsbury, let’s tone it down or take it to the Pit, okay?

I pretty much agree with ThenHeCame. Bush made the right decision and Clinton was wrong to sign it in the first place.

However nice it is to have allies and get along well with the rest of the world, you can do that without sacrificing our sovereignty be it a court, human rights, etc., etc.

Have any of you who think Bush made the wrong decision considered the ramifications of deferring any of our self-determination over to a gang of international politicians or policy makers? For whom we do not elect?

This is not a trivial matter.

Which is odd. I thought Foreign Policy was his STRENGTH, and what would make up for his current domestic policy…

MED: I always accept well-placed rebukes, but what did I do?

As Edlyn’s comments, all international treaties exchange bits of sovreign power for advantages, all of the bloody goddamned treaties, every motherfucking one of them. Yes, all of them. And, insofar as there is nothing stopping a country from ceasing to adhere to a treaty, other than its own mothefucking self interest there is no real loss of sovereignty.

As might have escaped your ever so slight attention, the mere signing of a treaty does not make it binding, only ratification does so.

All in all it’s not a trivial matter but it at least requires of … basic understanding of the actual meaning and operation of international law and the ICC in particular. Your intervention does not reflect either one.

Moderator’s Note: Just try not to skate right up to the line on “direct personal insults” so much. “Posting bloody wastes of electrons” and the insinuation that another poster is an “ignoramus” and an “ignorant misinformed moron”–well, see, maybe you could argue that you haven’t quite crossed the line. But you’re bumping right up against it, and I would really prefer that you not bump right up against that line so much.

If someone posts something you consider ill-informed or unintelligent, by all means take it apart line by line if you like, with stats and links and analyses all the rest. And if someone just pushes your personal buttons, then you need to take it up in the Pit.

Er, MEB. Noting the inquiry is not facetious.

My apologies for the double post which was accidental, that was not intended to question your response.

Bushs’ Foreign Policy is Isolationism. Period. Well, Isolationism as long as the oil barrel futures market is on the up. If it’s down, we’ll get another market agitating ‘Axis of Evil’ pep talk and/or mention of plans to oust Saddam. IMHO.

Isolationism may have had some merit in, say, the 1930’s but right now, it’s utterly out of step with a world wide consensus for action on a range of very significant issues (including Kyoto, Human Rights, the ICC, Land Mines…)

There is a genuine, perhaps one-off, window of opportunity here to make major progress, in the context of international relations maybe even a quantum leap,…I dunno…It’s all just sad, very, very sad and I can understand if some feel increasingly frustrated.

I favor Bush’s action because at the moment I’m down on the international community. I’m turned off by yesterday’s General Assembly resolution blasting Israel and ignoring the suicide bombing. And most of the EU countries didn’t even have the cojones to vote against it – they cravenly abstained.

I understand that the ICC is separate from the UN, but I wonder how the ICC will be enforced. If the same diplomats are controlling the interpretation of the ICC, then I want no part of it.

BTW I read an editorial which said that the Senate would never ratify the treaty. YMMV

FWIW, Clinton did sign the Rome treaty, but in his signatory document he said that, "In signing, however, we are not abandoning our concerns about significant flaws in the Treaty. "

Those flaws were never corrected. So I take it that Bill Clinton would also oppose ratification.

I think Bush did the right thing. Many of us have lost faith in the 'International Community". While the ICC is not part of the UN, the experience we’ve had with the U.N. should be a guideline as to the potential problems an international court could have.

On the other hand, a look at the list of signatories and ratifying countries makes me feel a little better about it - There is no large ‘bloc’ of countries that could be expected to vote against U.S. interests like their is in the U.N. Almost all of the countries that have signed the ICC are responsible democracies.

I’m curious about what would happen to those charged with crimes against the people of the United States. Would the ICC have the right to put them on trial or would the United States get first crack?