The United States’ decision to remain independent of the International Criminal Court and pursue a foreign policy in its own “national interests” is being sharply criticized throughout Europe, especially in Germany and Britain.
The treaty establishing the ICC was originally signed during the closing hours of the Clinton administration, but President George W. Bush withdrew America’s signature. Bush cited U.S. service personnel vulnerability to a foreign court and potential violations of U.S. sovereignty to justify his position.
America’s refusal to recognize the ICC “could lead to paranoid relations” between the U.S. and its European allies and “may cloak a hidden agenda,” according to Deutsche Welle, the official broadcasting service of the German government.
The “hidden agenda” revolves around the U.S. attempt to avoid the loss of influence over U.N. decisions, since the ICC will decide issues now handled by the U.N. Security Council, where the U.S. has a veto, Deutsche Welle declared.
U.S. concerns that its citizens could be harassed by “frivolous claims” are answered by “the right to a vigorous defense” before the judges of the ICC, the German broadcasting service asserted.
“At stake … is the institution empowered to address the issues of human rights, which drives to the spiritual and moral heart of international law,” pleaded Deutsche Welle, adding that “the concept of war as a sovereign act belongs to the past.”
Observers note that under the principle that “war as a sovereign act belongs to the past,” Bush’s actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world would have been open to international debate, and he would have had to await international approval before any serious commitment could take place.
The influential German news weekly Der Spiegel shares Deutsche Welle’s anger, stating that the U.S. wants international cooperation, but only on America’s terms.
“The United States refuses to cooperate with every form of globalization, if the rules were not written in Washington,” protests Der Spiegel in its online version.
The European reaction to the U.S. refusal to support the world criminal court was “sheepish,” according to Der Spiegel, which then lamented that “it isn’t American might, but European weakness, that is the problem.”
The highly regarded British newspaper the Independent also attacked the U.S. stand on the ICC, declaring that the real reason for Washington’s hostility to the ICC is that America regards the world criminal court “as a threat to the supremacy of its own judicial system.”
The U.S. is demanding “different treatment” because of America’s special role in the world. … This reasoning simply will not do,” asserted the Independent.
“Washington’s behavior is both arrogant and unacceptable,” the Independent declared.
Despite severe foreign criticism, Bush remains adamant in his opposition to the ICC, stating that it is “very troubling” to him that American personnel could be liable to international prosecution “as the United States works to bring peace around the world,” according to a recent AP report.
Bush press spokesman Ari Fleischer also noted that some of the members of the ICC have already negotiated immunity for their own personnel.
The row between the U.S. and its European allies occurs as the struggle against international terror continues, and the terror network falls into the hands of a new, undaunted leadership.
As Europe grows increasingly restive over American concerns for its national sovereignty, some in Europe look to Russia as a new “strategic partner” and military ally.
Ironically, Russia has signed but thus far has refused to ratify the ICC treaty, and Moscow’s own “strategic partner,” communist China, has neither signed nor ratified the covenant.