Alwaght- The Trump government’s largely unorthodox and riotous actions against the international principles and laws is noticeably observable in his foreign policy and can be well branded the “doctrine of withdrawal” have been effectively destabilizing the global order and isolating the US. The Trump adminstration has so far pulled out of some international treaties and threatens with withdrawing from some more as part of this strategy.
Recently, the US National Security Advisor John Bolton has threatened to sanction the International Criminal Court (ICC) should the UN organ decides that the American troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The warning drew reactions from various sides who condemned Washington’s unilateralism and instrumental use of the international organizations. On September 10, Bolton criticized the ICC as “inefficient, illegitimate, and dangerous”, arguing that its members attempted to limit the US power on the world stage.
US against the ICC
With the arrival of the twentieth century and after two devastating world wars, countries founded the League of Nations and then the United Nations as part of efforts to introduce a mechanism to save the global peace and security. The UN broadened its activity later to cover further work like humanitarian relief, environment protection, and social development.
At the time, the founding states pressed for founding a legal mechanism and reference to prosecute those accused of serious crimes like war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 1998 in Rome, Italy, the debate resulted in an agreement on the convention to create the International Criminal Court, which in 2002 officially replaced the Permanent Court of International Justice. The ICC was entrusted with the jurisdiction to investigate and issue rulings on four serious crimes: genocide, crime against humanity, war crimes, and territorial aggression.
A month after the Rome conference, the UN General Assembly put to vote the ICC statute. Of the 160 member states, only seven countries voted against it: Iraq, the Israeli regime, Libya, China, Qatar, Yemen, and the US.
Despite the negative vote of Washington, the then US President Bill Clinton signed the ICC statute in 2000. But that was never binding to the US because it needed to get the Congress approval, something never happened.
US double standards
Despite the fact that the independence of the ICC rulings has always been questioned due to the sway over the UN court by the Western powers, the double-standard approach in relation to the crimes against humanity is peculiar to the US.
In 2008, the US relatively hid its opposition to the ICC as the court prosecuted the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, a leader opposing the US policy and intervention and accused of crimes during quelling domestic rebellions. Another case is Kenya. In December 2009, the ICC issued an indictment against six Kenyan officials accusing them of rape and murder during the civil war. When the Kenyan government condemned the ruling and tried to press to strip the ICC of its jurisdiction for the investigation into the crimes, the US criticized the effort and opposed it. Dealing biased with the crimes in Ruanda, Yugoslavia, and Sri Lankan is another example of the US double standards.
The US mainly supports the ICC verdicts only if they fall in line with its own interests and against the opponents’. While the Western allies of the US are asked by Washington to voluntarily respect the human rights and exercise ethics in the conflicts, the independent African and Asian states are regularly exposed to the ICC investigations and meddling.
One of the main drives behind the US opposition to the ICC is a conflict of views over the explanation of aggression. Washington is afraid that expanded ICC jurisdiction in this area will lead to charges of war crimes against the US military and political officials. An indictment will enable the court to prosecute the leaders of any country who are accused of crimes in another country. To put it differently, this will tie the US hands for continuing militarism in service of their foreign policy.
The analysts argue that the US warning of a ban on the ICC undermines the development and transparency in the international laws. After all, when the ICC respects the international law and principles in a case, it sets up samples for the future cases.
Afghanistan, the showcase of the US war crimes
The unprecedented warning of the John Bolton, known as a war hawk in the US politics, against the ICC investigation into the actions of the American military in Afghanistan after nearly two decades of occupation of the Central Asian nation indicates the White House leaders’ fear of a subsequent ruling against their military personnel. Especially that amid the worsening humanitarian and security conditions in the war-torn country, the US troops committing crimes against the civilians during the operations is not unlikely.
The aversion to the US presence in Afghanistan is on the rise among the Afghans. Now the country’s parliament has under debate a plan to review the security pact with the US which the lawmakers argue did not help improve the security situation in the country. According to the estimations, the Afghanistan war has so far left thousands of the civilians dead. The reports put the Afghan security forces deaths at 15,000, as they suggest that the war during the 17 years took lives of 20,000 Afghan civilians.
The opium production in Afghanistan increased considerably under the US occupation and expanded to various parts of the country. The conflict and worsening living conditions have displaced thousands of Afghans or forced them into migration. The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 turned the country into a ruined state where the rise of even more extremist terrorist groups like ISIS pushes the things to deterioration.
Therefore, Washington strains against the ICC to avoid possible future investigation into US military war crimes in Afghanistan on the one hand exposes Washington’s abuse of the international law and organizations and on the other hand serves an agenda to keep the US military hands open for intervention anywhere without fearing the consequences.