No one is Above International Law. Punish War Criminals!
Listen to my discussion with Burl Barer and Howard Lapides on True Crime Uncensored:
If he truly believes in justice for all, President Obama must align the U.S. with the world community in recognizing the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC was established under United Nations authority in 2002 in The Hague, Netherlands, for the prosecution of the most serious war crimes (i.e., crimes against humanity) in the world.
Despite the fact that 108 nations, including most of Western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan recognize the ICC, the United States has criticized the court and has refused to permit the ICC to have jurisdiction over its citizens. This places the U.S. at odds with almost all of its staunchest international allies. Ironically, however, it puts the U.S. in alignment with China, a nation that the U.S. has frequently accused of human rights violations. Similarly, Iran, Iraq and North Korea do not recognize the court’s authority. The refusal to recognize the ICC thus aligns the U.S. with George W. Bush’s so-called axis of evil in rejecting international consensus on war crimes.
The G.W. Bush administration justified its refusal to recognize the ICC by claiming that the court could be used to pursue politically motivated prosecutions. In fact, the Bush administration refused to recognize the ICC precisely because the court would make it accountable for illegally invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein from power. The Bush administration’s rejection of the ICC in 2002 foreshadowed the actions of individuals who would seek to avoid prosecution for war crimes. As argued by Michel Foucault, nothing is inherently political. On the contrary, everything can be politicized.
The Bush administration violated both the Nuremberg Charter and the U.N. Charter and committed war crimes when it launched an unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Throughout its two terms, the Bush administration steadfastly maintained that the invasion was justified on the basis of the Bush doctrine of preemptive self-defense. However, the Bush doctrine went far beyond any reasonable interpretation of preemptive self-defense which would require that an actual attack was certain. The Bush doctrine was based on a much broader position that the U.S. was entitled to use force to eliminate any possible future threat to its national security, whether or not a threat was objective or imminent.
The Bush administration sought to preserve self-defense protection for invading Iraq under the U.N. Charter by falsely claiming that Iraq possessed WMD and that it was linked to al Qaeda and involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Even if Iraq had possessed WMD as claimed, without an actual attack or an immediate threat to use them against the U.S., there would still have been no justification for invading Iraq under the U.N. Charter.
Also, the killing, torture and inhumane treatment of Iraqi citizens and prisoners, particularly at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, and the wanton destruction of property resulting from the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq constitute war crimes as defined by the Geneva Conventions. As a measure of the carnage, the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies places the Iraqi death toll in excess of one million, including several hundred thousand civilians, while countless other have been maimed or injured.
Nevertheless, it is unlikely for several reasons that the Bush administration will ever be charged by the international community for its war crimes. First, no state has ever voluntarily agreed to subject itself to international prosecution, and President Obama notoriously decided not to investigate the Bush administration for war crimes. Moreover, Obama has perpetuated the war crimes of the Bush administration and initiated his own (e.g., drone launched missile attacks in Pakistan). Second, unless a referral is made by the U.N. Security Council, the ICC can exercise jurisdiction over international crimes only if they were committed on the territory of a state party or if they were committed by a state party. As mentioned above, neither the U.S. nor Iraq recognizes the jurisdiction of the ICC. Third, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. has the ability to veto any move by the Council to punish its illegal behavior. Thus, it is unlikely that the Bush administration will ever be charged with war crimes by the ICC in The Hague because it enjoys both political and bureaucratic exemptions from prosecution under international law.
President Obama promised a new, more inclusive U.S. foreign policy—one freed from President Bush’s aggressive and simplistic us-versus-them ideology. By recognizing the ICC, President Obama can send a powerful signal to the world that the U.S. is not above international law. Can the U.S. move beyond the hegemonic policies and actions of the Bush administration and make itself, including its leaders, accountable for war crimes? Yes, and for the sake of humanity it must!
Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq.” Order from Amazon:
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Posted on February 22, 2012, in In the News, Mass Deception, Political and tagged Doc Bonn, Dr. Scott Bonn, g w bush, hague netherlands, international allies, international consensus, international criminal court, International Law, Mass Deception, michel foucault, War Criminals. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.