The Trump administration has joined some of the world’s most vicious and brutal dictators in condemning the International Criminal Court in The Hague. National Security Adviser John Bolton delivered a scathing and utterly irrational rant against the ICC last week that echoed the claims of genocidal thugs like Omar Hassan al-Bashir of the Sudan.
But Burundi’s position got a powerful voice of support this week from President Trump, whose national security adviser, John R. Bolton, declared the international court “ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous,” and threatened sanctions against the court’s prosecutors and judges who pursued cases against Americans…
For the Trump administration, Mr. Bolton’s speech was the latest example of disdain for global organizations and — in this case — taking the same side as strongmen and dictators. But for the International Criminal Court, a relatively young institution, the new White House policy of open hostility comes at a perilous time…“This bombastic threat against an institution’s operation, no matter what the circumstances, only serves to cut our ties further with our allies,” said Patricia M. Wald, a retired American judge who served as a judge on a separate war crimes tribunal here.
The United States has always regarded the court warily, fearing that it would be used against American troops as a way to subvert Washington’s foreign policy decisions.
And therein lies the problem. What that idiotic phrase “American exceptionalism” really means is that we think we are the exception to every rule, that we can do anything we want and never be held accountable for it. That’s why not a single person has spent a moment in jail for the torture regime put in place under George W. Bush despite the fact that it was blatantly illegal under the UN Convention Against Torture, which Ronald Reagan helped push through at the United Nations. The Obama administration did nothing to hold anyone accountable, and in fact threatened other countries who hinted at the possibility of trying American officials under the universal jurisdiction provisions of that treaty.
We think we are off-limits to the rules we demand for everyone else because we’re the most powerful country in the world, but that power is precisely why we should not be immune to one of the few remedies for war crimes and crimes against humanity. We condemn other nations for their human rights abuses but demand total immunity for our own. It’s morally bankrupt.