The Act, which is part of a larger supplemental funding bill allegedly designed as anti-terrorism legislation, continues the administration’s war against the newly-empowered International Criminal Court (ICC), which is to be located in The Hague, Holland.
In May, the Bush administration announced it was unsigning President Clinton’s signature on the ICC treaty. In June, Bush threatened to derail crucial U.N. peacekeeping operations in Bosnia in an effort to obtain permanent immunity for US soldiers engaged in U.N. peacekeeping operations. Since then, US officials have launched a worldwide campaign to create bilateral agreements that would compromise the ability of national governments and the ICC to punish US soldiers who commit war crimes.
The new law stipulates withdrawal of US military assistance from countries ratifying the ICC treaty, and restricts U.S. participation in UN peacekeeping unless the United States is given immunity from prosecution.
“Amazing as it is, this act of Congress has authorized the president to use all necessary means, a reference to military force, to liberate any US service member who might be arrested or detained by the ICC,” explained Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, during a highly-regarded “Democracy Now” Pacifica Network internet radio show. “And since the court is going to be based in The Hague in the Netherlands, a close NATO ally, this Act in essence authorizes the US to go to war against a fellow NATO ally.”
Roth points out that 77 national governments, including Colombia, have ratified the ICC agreement. Colombia’s ratification is especially significant, because the war on drugs and peasants being conducted there by the US and Colombian governments and their allies in paramilitary right wing death squads, has produced a number of human rights violations that could become the first cases to be presented to the ICC.
“This Act reflects the depth of animosity toward international justice by the Bush administration and the right-wing extremists in Congress who pushed this through,” Roth says. “The Bush administration has the view that international justice is for other people, that the US, as the world’s only superpower, should be above any international accountability mechanism that enforces the most basic laws against genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity.”
Roth says that the intent of Bush’s action is to intimidate governments into not ratifying the ICC and to discourage cooperation with ICC efforts to extradite or punish US soldiers who commit war crimes.
In Holland, the newly-elected, anti-coffeeshop, conservative Catholic ruling party- the CDA- has been silent in the face of the implied US threat against The Hague.
Civilian sources inside Holland, as well as official sources who are only willing to speak anonymously, indicate that most Dutch citizens, and Europeans in general, are troubled by what they perceive as US defiance of international law and cooperation.
One Dutch commentator said that “the US must have some expectation that it will commit war crimes.”
“They are quite eager to have the ICC go after Saddam Hussein and others who they say are war criminals,” the commentator said, “but they don’t want the same standards and scrutiny applied to their own actions. Why?”
For an in-depth look at US military and covert actions that could be defined as war crimes, please consult the Project Truth article series in issue 39 of Cannabis Culture magazine.
For an in-depth look at Holland’s new government, see the CDA article in issue 39 of Cannabis Culture magazine