Wednesday, March 12, 2003

International Criminal Court

Yesterday saw the commencement of activities at the International Criminal Court. Mainstream media reports generally have noted that the U.S.A. did not ratify the creation of the court, and typically have left to the end of their articles any statement that Russia and China also balked at support of this fiasco. It would seem that it is far more important to point out that the Queen of Holland was there than that three of the five permanent Security Council members stayed home.

All three reports linked above are from Associated Press wire copy, and include this statement near the end of the piece:
Neither Russia nor China have endorsed the court, leaving it without the support of three of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members. Of the three, only the United States actively tried to block the court's creation.
Why this tidbit is included in a way that seems to cast the American position as inferior to, rather than the more responsible position that that taken by China and Russia, is a mystery. After all, actively attempting to dissuade the Tranzies from even creating the ICC is clearly more responsible that merely opting out of the court's jurisdiction. That it is only included as a afterthought, buried in the tail end of the piece, is unforgivable.

It is no coincidence that the three world powers refuse to endorse such a court. Why should a nuclear armed power with aspirations of helping to mold the world's geopolitical future imbue this motley collection of second and third rate powers with any more credibility than its own unilateral assumption of power? And, from the American point of view, how could any American government abdicate its sovereignty to any transnational body without legislative or constitutional oversight or appeal?

But more important, why do the news media insist upon casting American motives as sinister? No great nation can afford to appoint any proxy power above and beyond its own sovereign power. None of the great powers have, in this case. Singling out America rather than those nations that have abdicated their responsibility betrays an anti-American bias that is unseemly at best, and malignant at worst.

Step a little bit out of the mainstream, however, and see what The Economist has to say about the ICC. When it comes to its provenance, they have this:
The United States has not been alone in opposing the court. The world’s most brutal dictatorships, of course, have not been very keen on it. But two other democracies, India and Israel, have also shared America’s suspicions. China and Japan have spoken in support of the court, but not yet signed the treaty. Russia has signed, but not yet ratified it.
So here we can see that governments representing at least half of the population of the world are eschewing membership or jurisdiction in this EU inspired, Transnational club. 89 countries in all have ratified the ICC however, so far. That leaves the majority of nations out as well as the majority of people.

The international community has never had a problem constituting tribunals to deal with war crimes. In my mind it is highly questionable whether it makes sense to go after ex-dictators. After all, if a dictator believes that he will have to spend the rest of his life behind bars, he will have to think long and hard before he agrees to step down in favor of any national democratic movement. Why should the existence of an international court stand in their way? Why shouldn't a nation have the right to make such a deal with their incumbent dictator? Bit the ICC takes any such dealmaking out of the purview of a locally-brewed solution to such a family squabble.

It is hard to see why the world needs such a court. It's chief purpose, it seems to me, is to give the European Union jurisdiction over other nation's business. That is power that they have refused to take by the standard means of funding and committing to a military option. They believe that talk is more powerful than a cluster bomb. There is no reason to believe that they are right.