Are We Ready for an ICCy Future?

Certain groups of people in the US have been concerned about the ICC for years. Of course, that was the Interstate Commerce Commission (whose employees seem to think that the line in the Constitution which speaks to “regulating commerce” needs to be expanded into many thousands of pages of rules).

Now, there is another ICC (International Criminal Court) which believes it has the authority to try US military personnel for war crimes–even though the US never signed the treaty which would have placed it under this court’s jurisdiction:

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, though, has no intention of waiting for Washington to submit to the court’s authority. Luis Moreno Ocampo says he already has jurisdiction—at least with respect to Afghanistan.

Because Kabul in 2003 ratified the Rome Statute—the ICC’s founding treaty—all soldiers on Afghan territory, even those from nontreaty countries, fall under the ICC’s oversight, Mr. Ocampo told me. And the chief prosecutor says he is already conducting a “preliminary examination” into whether NATO troops, including American soldiers, fighting the Taliban may have to be put in the dock.

Any excuse will do, if the United States can be brought under greater control by the United Nations. Make no mistake, this is not about justice, but about power.

“Whatever the gravest war crimes are that have been committed, we have to check.”

“Gravest” is the operative word here. The court was established to “end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” as stated on the ICC’s Web site. This would suggest that even if U.S. soldiers have committed war crimes by the prosecutor’s definition, the ICC would have no reason to get involved as those transgressions would surely be insignificant compared to the butchery in places like Sudan or Congo.

Mr. Ocampo’s own words, though, suggested that he disagrees. I asked him if he was going to prosecute the worst crimes in his jurisdiction or the worst crimes in a particular case, such as Afghanistan, irrespective of how they compare to crimes around the world. He paused before answering.

“Normally,” he said (another pause) “we select situations which are grave, for instance when I choose. . . .” Mr. Ocampo didn’t finish the sentence, sighed and began afresh: “Both [scenarios] are right. Normally, we open investigations in the worst situation in the world and in some cases [countries] we investigate the worst situation.”

Or, to put it more simply: “We look into whatever we want to ’cause we’re the United Nations. Got that?” Of course, it is much easier to prosecute people from civilized nations who have some form of a rule of law than it is to go after completely unrestrained mass murderers in Africa.

If the ICC proceeds with this course of action and the United States government permits it to go forward, expect to see an exponential increase in “human rights abuse” charges brought against our military personnel in countries all around the world.