Loading...
Bless our stormwater system's heart (does it have one?). Seemed to hold up pretty well to me, Calvin. Stormwater is...

Trump right to challenge international court

Thiessen

Mark Thiessen

Loading…

Bobby Burns

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Should an unaccountable United Nations court, created by a treaty to which the United States is not a signatory, and that the Senate has not ratified, be allowed to investigate, try and imprison American citizens?

Unfortunately, this is no longer a theoretical question. In November, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Fatou Bensouda, announced she was seeking a formal investigation into alleged war crimes committed by U.S. military forces and CIA officers in Afghanistan.

Bensouda — a Gambian lawyer who is answerable to no government or institution — claims unbridled power to investigate, charge and prosecute American citizens, no matter what the U.S. government says. A pretrial chamber of the court, made up of judges from Hungary, France and Benin, reportedly will approve her request in the coming days.

Who gave these foreign magistrates the right to try U.S. citizens, whose government never assented to the court's jurisdiction through our own democratic institutions? No one. And, yet, they are preparing to exercise this supranational power for the first time.

That will not happen if the Trump administration has anything to say about it. In a speech last week to the Federalist Society, national security adviser John Bolton said the United States will bar ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the country, sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system and prosecute them in the American criminal-justice system if they follow through with the action.

I know something about the ICC because I was present at its creation. In 1998, as a staff member for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I attended the Rome conference where the treaty was negotiated. The committee's chairman, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) warned that, unless checks were established — including a U.N. Security Council "screen" that would permit the United States to veto cases going forward — the Rome treaty would be "dead on arrival" in the Senate.

When those protections were rejected, Helms introduced the "American Servicemembers' Protection Act" to bar U.S. cooperation with the ICC and to punish the court for any efforts to prosecute Americans. The measure was approved in 2002 by a bipartisan 75-to-19 vote. So not only has the Senate not ratified the ICC treaty, it has explicitly authorized the president to use "all means necessary" — including military force — to shield American citizens from ICC prosecution.

We were told back then that all of this was unnecessary, and that the idea a rogue ICC prosecutor would ever go after Americans was ridiculous. The court would focus on grievous human-rights abuses by the world's tyrants, not on democracies with robust and transparent legal systems capable of policing their own citizens. That was a lie.

The ICC also has Israel in its crosshairs. In 2015, Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation of Israel for actions defending itself against Palestinian terrorist attacks in the West Bank and Gaza — despite the fact that the court has no jurisdiction because Israel is not a party to the treaty, and because Palestinian territories cannot be a "state party" to the treaty considering they are not a "state." In May, the Palestinian Authority's foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, traveled to The Hague to hand over a criminal referral against Israel and to urge the court to indict and prosecute Israeli officials.

The ICC is not just a threat to U.S. citizens and our democratic allies — it is a hindrance to democratic change. Since the end of the Cold War, almost every peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy has involved some form of amnesty. The existence of the ICC makes it more difficult to convince dictators to step down, because the option of safety in exile has effectively been eliminated.

Without a credible guarantee that they will remain unmolested abroad, dictators may well decide they are better off holed up in their palaces. The lesson to tyrants such as Venezuela's Nicol s Maduro, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, or Iran's ayatollahs is clear: If the people rise up, it is safer to fire on the crowds than to flee.

By taking on the ICC, the Trump administration is not just protecting U.S. citizens and American sovereignty — it is striking a blow for democracy across the world.

Marc Thiessen is a columnist for the Washington Post. He served as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

September 18, 2018

Since 1999’s Floyd, we’ve come to the conclusion that with hurricanes, water is the new wind.

Smarter construction methods — from beefed-up building codes to plain old common sense — seem to have helped mitigate damage solely from wind and, to a lesser extent, storm surge.…

September 18, 2018

Readers of the Los Angeles Times were furious in 2003 when — only five days before the California gubernatorial election — the paper published a stunning investigation in which 16 women accused candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger of groping them.

They canceled their subscriptions in droves…

Margaret Sullivan

September 18, 2018

If recent history is any guide, we'll still be hearing about the Hurricane Florence recovery effort well into 2020.

The recovery from Hurricane Matthew — which flooded large parts of Eastern North Carolina in October 2016 — was still creeping along as Florence hit the state. Just a week…

Colin Campbell

September 17, 2018

The Washington Post

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday promising to punish anyone attempting to meddle in U.S. elections, including with "measures that could be capable of devastating an interfering country's economy," according to an administration description. For a…

September 17, 2018

Over the past year, the movement to ban plastic straws has seen tremendous success. Major companies including Starbucks have decided to eliminate them in their stores, and some metropolitan areas have passed citywide bans. This consumer and environmental trend has been an encouraging example of…

John Podesta

September 17, 2018

When natural disasters or other emergencies hit our state, North Carolinians respond in droves — and I’m not just referring to the crucial and praiseworthy work of our public employees who work in emergency management, public safety, and public works.

North Carolinians respond in many…

john hood.jpg

September 16, 2018

Under any other president’s watch, this would be big news, that the budget deficit has reached $895 billion. Thanks to President Trump’s tax cut, corporate tax revenue fell 30 percent in the last 11 months, and the need for social services remains despite the good economy.

Wages are…

douglascohn.jpg

September 16, 2018

Should an unaccountable United Nations court, created by a treaty to which the United States is not a signatory, and that the Senate has not ratified, be allowed to investigate, try and imprison American citizens?

Unfortunately, this is no longer a theoretical question. In November, the chief…

Thiessen

September 16, 2018

Beginning with the reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the American Colonies charted a revolutionary course that challenged accepted institutions of government existing throughout the world.

Even before victory in their audacious war with the most powerful empire in the…

louannhaddock

September 14, 2018

President Trump's antics in his "Crazytown" White House inevitably dominate the headlines. Meanwhile, however, his wrongheaded policies are damaging far more than the nation's dignity and honor.

Hampered by inexperience and incompetence, the administration is pursuing a radically un-American agenda…

Eugene Robinson
296 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 30
        Next Page»   Last Page»