RNA - This is welcome news as this is what the international civil society expects from the ICC. The US administration has long been using its influence over global bodies to the extent that it sees itself an "exceptional" nation. Now the Hague intends to prove that unlike other international bodies such as the UN Security Council or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this is not the case with the ICC, and that even if Washington moves to position itself in direct opposition not just to the investigations, but the court itself, it won’t be able to stop justice from being served to the long-suffering people of Afghanistan.
Still, that didn’t stop US National Security Adviser John Bolton from saying that the US will not only refuse to cooperate with the ICC, but that “for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.” Bolton is suggesting that the US will block any judges and prosecutors from entering the US, freeze any ICC funds in the US financial system, and impose sanctions against the ICC and its officials!
The US has long resisted ICC oversight of its myriad war crimes and misdeeds, and has long insisted that Americans are immune from ICC prosecution. This has tended to work in the past, as the ICC has so far not made any serious moves against any US citizens. Not anymore, as things have changed and justice is no longer a luxury. Under International Law, therefore, the ICC has the power and authority to prosecute Americans committing war crimes not just in Afghanistan, but in Iraq, Syria and Yemen as well.
It is under the same international norms that the International Criminal Court has firmly dismissed the threat of sanctions against it by Bolton in case it probes US war crimes in Afghanistan, declaring that it will continue its work “undeterred.”
“The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law,” the ICC announced in a Tuesday statement, a day after Bolton used bullying rhetoric against the UN-backed tribunal in The Hague.
The international court has further insisted that it is an independent and impartial institution with the backing of 123 nations, and that it would not be intimidated or dissuaded from its global task.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is right to announce that there is a “reasonable basis to believe” war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Afghanistan and that all sides in the 17-year-old conflict would be inspected, including members of the US military and its CIA spying network.
According to Fars News Agency, Washington has refused to ratify the Rome Treaty that established the ICC. The US has adopted the so-called American Services-Members “Protection Act” - nicknamed The Hague Invasion Act - which authorizes the use of any means necessary to free any American personnel held by the court. But that’s not enough to justify any ICC backpedal from its rightful position.
Further still, the attack by Bolton against the ICC is not only in direct contradiction to the principle of accountability for war crimes, but reinforces the US administration’s repugnant policy of exceptionalism, where it demands adherence to International Law by all countries, except itself. The US dministration’s threat to criminally prosecute and sanction International Criminal Court judges and prosecutors is straight out of an authoritarian playbook. Yet, those who believe that this criminal and autocratic rule of the White House started under Donald Trump need to remember President Obama's statements. But still, this conceited belief in exceptionalism has always been present in the minds and actions of the US presidents ever since late World War II.
Taken together, delivering justice to the victims of America’s longest war in history will help to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan. This is their basic human right and demand and it must be respected by the US which keeps telling us that it cares about international norms and human rights. The ICC should also investigate the Israeli regime’s crimes against humanity in occupied Palestine, because like its American patrons, the usurper regime of Israel is not above International Law either.
Per usual, the ongoing US-led war in Afghanistan has only brought death and destruction to the Afghan people. The war has been a disastrous failure and it is going really badly. By prosecuting those who have committed war crimes, the ICC can force the US to change its strategy and show some respect for justice and accountability outside its borders or simply leave Afghanistan. This way, it can also pave the way for national reconciliation and an international effort to end the protracted conflict.
After all, there is no grandiose purpose to having US military forces operating in Afghanistan. People like Bolton who favor an escalation of the war ought to own up to its heavy costs and bloody consequences. Of course, none of this is likely to be the case as long as the US commanders pursue their strategy of bomb and apologize (and in many cases bomb even with no apology), while garrisoning the planet and fighting open-ended wars on not only Afghan but global frontiers.
Instead of fuelling global outrage for their illicit wars and occupations, the warmongers in Washington would be better off and safer, if they come to their senses, cooperate with the ICC and end their failed mission in Afghanistan. Threatening the ICC in a bid to continue war crimes would never bring the White House losers a victory in Afghanistan the same way it hasn't thus far.