Alwaght- The logic of playing in the anarchist international order and the need to avoid as much as possible the commitments for the government in the foreign policy have always shaped a strategic principle for the Republican-led American administrations.
Trump administration is no exception. Under President Donald Trump, the White House followed a policy of exiting the agreements and important international organizations and sanctioning them.
In an unprecedented move, the Trump administration on Thursday imposed sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as the international prosecutors and human rights investigators.
The sanctions target the ICC personnel and investigators who work for the Hague-based International Court of Justice.
The sanctions, coming in the form of an executive order, freeze the assets of the ICC and any official person intending to investigate the US military crimes in Afghanistan. They block their and family’s entry to the US soil, too.
The international tribunal called the action “the latest in a series of unprecedented attacks on the ICC” that “constitute an escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the Court’s judicial proceedings.”
Why has the US sanctioned the ICC?
On March 5, the ICC’s Appeals Chamber authorized opening an inquiry into possible US war crimes that took place in Afghanistan over a decade ago. After receiving feeds from the investigators, the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in 2017 that there was a wise basis to believe that the US military and the CIA committed war crimes in Afghanistan and other countries in their secret prisons mainly between 2003 and 2004.
Now and with the start of the probe, the American troops can be exposed to the investigations because they committed crimes in Afghanistan as an ICC member state though the US is not its member.
In fact, the White House officials are aware that there are several cases raised about the American troops' war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. A dispute inside the administration of President George W. Bush in 2007 over the case led to the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
But the US does not want an international body to investigate the crimes. It even signed bilateral pacts with some countries according to which its military service members will be tried at home if they commit crimes in the hosting country. This is aimed at giving them legal immunity to prevent actions by the ICC.
Since the moment the ICC announced plans to launch the investigation, the US struggled to thwart the probe and prevent disclosure of the reality about its military’s systematic crimes in Afghanistan to the world. In April, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington will revoke or reject visas of the ICC personnel seeking to investigate the US role in the war crimes in Afghanistan. On April 5, the State Department revoked Bensouda’s entry visa over the probe.
Aside from Afghanistan war crimes, the US essentially wants international organizations to serve its interests. The behavior of Washington to the ICC since its foundation in 2002 was not excluded from this principle. The ICC was founded in 2002 to investigate war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, with 123 world countries recognizing its jurisdiction for the role.
US overt crime in Afghanistan
Although the opposition to the ICC inquiry on the US army’s war crimes in Afghanistan can reveal wider aspects of the reality the US government wants to cover up, even without such a probe the US hand in the massive war crimes in Afghanistan during 18 years of occupation of the central Asian country is brazen.
Afghanistan is currently the deadliest country among those struggling with home conflict. The war and occupation inflicted serious fatalities on the Afghanistan people. According to the Human Rights Watch, since 2016, the children accounted for one-third of the 11,000 annual deaths of the civilians.
Since 2009 when the UN started regular registration of the war effects on the death of the civilians, it recorded over 100,000 casualties, of which 35,000 people died and 65,000 others were wounded.
According to the UN figures, last year over 10,000 Afghani civilians were killed and wounded in insecurity. Taliban is responsible for 50 percent, the Afghanistan security forces 16 percent, and the foreign forces 8 percent of them.
A report reveals that in late 2001, the US enormously used depleted uranium ammunitions in the Afghanistan war. The same report added that the US military still uses the same ammunitions in the occupied country.
In his book Afghanistan After ‘Democracy’: The Untold Story Through Photographic Images, Professor Mohammed Davoud Miraki sheds light on the banned ammunitions use in Afghanistan. He documents his book by his observation of deformity of the Afghanistan children when born, the increase in diabetes patients, death of people without physical reasons, death of birds on the trees, and so on and concludes that these happen through inhaling depleted uranium.
Over the past years, reports of the US crimes against the Afghanistan civilians built home and international pressures on Washington to disclose the realities of the Afghanistan war. These pressures forced Obama to sign an order for an investigation into the US military activities in Afghanistan. But the probe was not taken seriously by the US army and intelligence community. In other words, there is no serious political will in the US to publicize the reality about the Afghanistan war.
Fruitless sanctions on ICC
Although the US through sanctioning the ICC and its officials made it clear that it uses any tools to check probes into Afghanistan war crimes, the restrictions not only have no practical effects but also will backfire for some reason.
First, a majority of the ICC personnel are the world’s prominent legal experts. Their human conscience leads stronger to serve justice than their motivation to make wealth. They hardly have considerable assets in American banks or property in the US. Additionally, the victims of Afghanistan war who may collaborate with these prosecutors and investigators or testify in the ICC possibly have no assets exposed to the US freezing.
Moreover, probing war crimes committed in Afghanistan a decade ago does not require the investigation team’s presence in the US. The reality can be tested in Afghanistan.
Also, it should be known that imposing restrictions on the ICC personnel at the end of the road will undermine the most utilized and significant tool of the US foreign policy the sanctions regime. The sanctions that are illegal in the viewpoint of the world community cannot garner international cooperation for their implementation.
The ICC in a statement blasted the US effort to intervene in the legal proceedings. It added that the US move represented “an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the Court represents the last hope for justice.”