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U.S. Troops Must Not Be at the Mercy of the ICC

 
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2004 03:09 pm
Exactly what, do you think of, could be an advatage by an ICC verdict for such a government?
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2004 03:17 pm
McGentrix wrote:
How about I change that to say "Governments that are not freely elected should never be allowed to take advantage of systems like the ICC"? That is more in tune with what I meant to say.


Maybe you mean they shouldn't be able to request an investigation by the ICC?
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2004 03:23 pm
ehBeth wrote:
I actually think it has something to do with why many in the U.S. view the ICC the way they do. They seem to think that frivolous litigation is the standard, not the exception. It's interesting how different it is around here - close to the border with the U.S. - more examples of frivolous litigation coming up - further away - still not the case.

If you see these examples of frivolous/reckless litigation around you, you may think it's the same everywhere else - and want to prevent getting caught up in it.

I think it's one of the reasons you also get some of the puzzled reactions to some U.S. posters objections to the ICC. People in other countries find it a bit of a "what you talkin' about" thing.


Hmmm - I just thought it was a hairy-chested sort of "We're the top, we're the coliseum" sort of thing - you know, "Don't go messin' wit me, I'm the ALPHA". But mebbe...and thinking that everybody is out to get them - which has some truth to it, too. Also - if one an refer to a country as having a temperament, the US is on the extreme individuality and independence vs interdependence and collective good end, methinks.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2004 05:22 pm
I've been involved in meetings all day and only now have come back to this thread. Lots of posts and issues to which to respond, most from Craven (as usual) , but others as well. Here goes - in no particular order.

The ICC has been functioning for well over a year. There are judges and a prosecutor & staff with full discretion to investigate and initiate cases. I don't know just what cases have been put forward by them (if any) as yet, but I do know that none have addressed the several serious contemporary issues on crimes against humanity and aggression that are prominently out there. There are also a couple of analogous legal situations in which some countries have been presumptuous enough to declare that certain of their laws involve universal jurisdiction for their courts. Belgium had this feature until recently. The result was trivial and vexatious cases brought against high officials of other governments (including ours) by zealots of this or that issue or peoiple with obvious hostile political motives. No cases involving the serious issues noted in earlier posts have yet been brought..

Please recognize that all of these things involve the surrender of national sovereignty to third parties over whom we exercise no direct political control. In the United States our judges, depending on the jurisdiction, are either elected directly or appointed by elected officials and confirmed by elected legislatures. Most have limited terms of office and all are subject to impeachment. They and their courts function in keeping with our law and constitutional protections. With the ICC the power of these courts is much more remote from the people - one must go through signatory parties or some organ of the UN. Moreover the legal structure and rules of evidence and procedure are not consistent with those in our constitution. I for one am not ready to surrender my rights as a citizen of the USA to foreign judges over whom I exercise only the remotest political control, in particular for actions I might take in the service of my own country.

Imagine that you are a military officer, subject to the military command and discipline of your country. How would you feel about combat operations in another country, directed by superior officers of your own country that would subject you to the after the fact jurisdiction of a prosecutor and court not at all subject to the administrative or political control of your military service or even country. Further, imagine that this court and its prosecutor were empowered to act to enforce a very vaguely written statute that described a crime against humanity to include even actions involving "excess use of force" or even actions to offend the dignity of certain classes of people. Your country would have the right to stop any action of the international court only if it chooses to also treat your action as a potential offense and bring its own proceedings against you. Would you agree to serve under such conditions? If you have no personal experience in the military in a combat situation, please make an effort to at least imagine or visualize the implications of all this with respect to situations involving life and death on a sustained basis. I have such experience and there is no doubt in my mind that I would never voluntarily serve under such conditions. Furthermore I would not ask those who are sworn to expose themselves to protect me in case of war to accept such a situation, and more importantly I would not feel safe in a country with a defense establishment so constituted.

Do you believe that one of our soldiers or military officers involved in a questionable - or even normal - activity in Iraq would get a fair trial today in Brussels before a French Judge in a case involving statutes as vaguely written as those in the Treaty of Rome???. What if the court decided that our intervention constituted aggression, and therefore made everyone involved subject to prosecution? In effect we would have surrendered the ultimate independence of our government to a foreign court exercising a high degree of discretion with respect to statutes permitting a wide range of opposing political interpretations.

Finally, does anyone here actually believe that such a system would really work to prevent or resolve issues such as the brutality now going on in Sudan, or the slaughter that occurred ten years ago in the former Yugoslavia? To those who accept this proposition I commend Aesop's fable about the mice who agreed that putting a bell around the cat's neck was the solution to their cat problem.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2004 09:49 pm
George,

There are a numberof inaccuracies in your post that I wish to leave be for nowin favor of a more direct question (it has been ignored thus far amongst other points so I'll offer it alone):

To remedy the structural qualms you raise with the ICC, do you have any suggestions other than dismissal of the concept itself?
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 12:30 am
No, none.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 12:32 am
So am I correct to say that you object to the concept itself?
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 12:47 am
All these points were discussed on this forum months ago. But what the heck, why not again. I would just like to point out, that just like the Nuremberg Trials where the idea of ICC originated and what they were supposed to be turned into eventually were it not for the heating up of the Cold War, as in the Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda, for Former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, or Sierra Leone, ICC will be highly unlikely to try regular soldiers. It focuses on the crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and primary target will be the leaders inciting and leading such crimes. They would not have the capacity to try hundreds of soldiers, so why not shift focus off from U.S. troops, it is not all that relevant. It is technically possible, but not at all likely.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 05:44 am
Everything under the sun has been debated many times before. That, however, does not stop the conversation.

I have no objection in principle to ad hoc trials such as those now ongoing in Rwanda and in Europe for Milosevich and others, or even for those held in Nuremberg or Tokyo after WWII. In every case these are merely victor's justice dispensed following a conflict that has been resolved. It isn't good to lose wars, and in hard fought ones, victors usually find some way to punish the defeated leaders. It is a form of justice - not a particularly high form - but probably better than nothing, and often historically necessary.

While the endless trial of Milosevich goes on, recall the episode in Bosnia in which a body of Dutch troops chose not to resist a cadre of Bosnian Serb troops who went on to massacre several thousand civilians in a town in Bosnia almost before their eyes. The Dutch troops defended themselves noting that they lacked clear orders in the situation, and may not have had the force to stop the action anyway. Were they guilty of war crimes or crimes against humanity? Before you absolve them, recognize that this was exactly the defense of hundreds of German officers sent to prison and even the gallows for analogous circumstances.

Certainly no serious person would argue that any of the above forums - from Geneva to Nuremberg, to Tokyo, applied a consistent standard of justice to all involved in the conflicts - winners and losers alike.. After all, the Soviet leaders who oversaw the massacre of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn forest sat in serene judgement of the German leaders at Nuremberg. One could argue today that the British and American architects of the bombing of German and Japanese cities exceeded the norms of warfare. The USA convicted several Japanese senior officers on rather flimsy charges amounting to not much more that we had done ourselves to the Japanese. There were certainly some real villains among the convicted and executed, but it is idle to describe the process as embodying a particularly high standard of justice and fairness.

It is equally absurd to institute such forums on a permanent basis, presuming to dispense "justice" to leaders and officials associated with unsuccessful political actions at the hands of a self-appointed group of winners - and then call it "justice".

The status and state of development of international bodies of governance and, as well, international law are not sufficient to persuade me, for one, that they are capable of the administration of any kind of justice that I would willingly accept on a permanent basis. Perhaps if I lived in Zimbabwe or Sudan I might prefer such a body to what was locally available. however I don't live there. I live in the United States of America, and I see no reason whatever to subject myself -or those who represent, govern, or defend me- to such relatively primitive forms of drumhead justice at the hands of others, not accountable to me. I live in a democracy and my leaders are accountable to me - not to others.

There is no shortage of the kind of people who are sure they know what is good for others and who are willing, even eager, to impose their ideas on others, whether through force or "laws" that they imagine apply to everyone. Such people inhabit totalitarian political systems, criminal organizations, and, as well, a number of NGOs, all with high-sounding names and lofty "principles", such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and the like. At the core they share a common interest in dictating to others in an affirmative way, as opposed to a democratic one, how they should live. To me they are all alike - and dangerous.

I am utterly opposed to the ICC. It may be a dispenser of something, but it is not justice. Moreover it is not politically accountable to me, and it does not conform to the legal principles of my country.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 06:07 am
georgeob1 wrote:

There is no shortage of the kind of people who are sure they know what is good for others and who are willing, even eager, to impose their ideas on others, whether through force or "laws" that they imagine apply to everyone. Such people inhabit totalitarian political systems, criminal organizations, and, as well, a number of NGOs, all with high-sounding names and lofty "principles", such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and the like. At the core they share a common interest in dictating to others in an affirmative way, as opposed to a democratic one, how they should live. To me they are all alike - and dangerous.


Well, I know of some more places than just "totalitarian political systems, criminal organizations, and, as well, a number of NGOs", where such persons live and act.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 06:26 am
Walter, I suppose you are referring to the American rhetoric about bringing democracy to the Moslem world.. Permit me the perhaps fine distinction of imposing democracy - free public choice - and ending authoritarian rule, as opposed to imposing a particular manner of living. I'll also add that I don't much care for that rhetoric myself.

There is a global conflict now ongoing between some primitive forms of authoritarian Islam and the Western World. This, like other such conflicts, will have winners and losers. The wiinners will write the new rules that will prevail for a time after the conflict. I want this one to be resolved, and I want the West to be the winner. I don't even attempt to rationalize this conflict with any particular concept of justice. There is no justice in such processes. We may wish there was, but the facts of history argue against it.

There is also no justice in the natural evolution of species, or any of the observable competitive aspects of the natural world, either.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 07:01 am
georgeob1 wrote:
The ICC has been functioning for well over a year. There are judges and a prosecutor & staff with full discretion to investigate and initiate cases. I don't know just what cases have been put forward by them (if any) as yet, but I do know that none have addressed the several serious contemporary issues on crimes against humanity and aggression that are prominently out there.

One thing to keep into account is that the ICC can not take on any case that refers to alleged crimes against humanity that took place before the ICC was established. It has no retroactive authority, so to say.

Quote:
There are also a couple of analogous legal situations in which some countries have been presumptuous enough to declare that certain of their laws involve universal jurisdiction for their courts. Belgium had this feature until recently. The result was trivial and vexatious cases brought against high officials of other governments (including ours) by zealots of this or that issue or peoiple with obvious hostile political motives.

Do you know of any such cases being accepted by the ICC? If not, what is the relevance to this point? Is it a purely speculative argument that this could happen with the ICC too? What leads you to think so in the ICC procedures, specifically? From what I read up about them the thresholds for action are very high - incomparable to the Belgian case, in any case.

There is also a kind of inner contradiction in your points. You dismiss the ICC first because it doesn't do anything; than you plead against it because it might do things too easily/quickly.

Quote:
Do you believe that one of our soldiers or military officers involved in a questionable - or even normal - activity in Iraq would get a fair trial today in Brussels before a French Judge


From a simple & useful Q & A on the ICC and the USA by HRW, this:

"The Court's Prosecutor won't even be able to begin an investigation against an American without the approval of a panel of judges. The judges and the prosecutor will know that if they abuse their authority, they can be removed by a simple vote of the ICC's member nations, which include virtually every U.S. ally. What's more, the United Nations Security Council can adopt a resolution to stop any ICC investigation."

Furthermore, the ICC only covers "the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole [..] crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes", which I don't see encompassing "normal activity in Iraq" of an individual US soldier.

Basically, by this point in your post I am suspecting an elaborately erected straw man, based on assumptions and speculations concerning the ICC more than its actual foundations.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 07:03 am
georgeob1 wrote:
I don't even attempt to rationalize this conflict with any particular concept of justice. There is no justice in such processes. We may wish there was, but the facts of history argue against it.

There is also no justice in the natural evolution of species, or any of the observable competitive aspects of the natural world, either.



Thanks for your response.

I've had to confirm by oath ( a couple of times, on various occassions) that I obey the (Basic) law(s) etc.

And I think, I live (today) in a civilised world, which distinguishes from the "primitive forms" in the centuries before - and perhaps still existing elsewhere.

Thus I have a different opinion.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 07:30 am
nimh wrote:

There is also a kind of inner contradiction in your points. You dismiss the ICC first because it doesn't do anything; than you plead against it because it might do things too easily/quickly.


No, my pooint is that the ICC will be unable to really do any of the important things which its advocates affirm it will, but will readily lend itself to mischief and vexatious misuse. There is no real contradiction here.

Quote:
"The Court's Prosecutor won't even be able to begin an investigation against an American without the approval of a panel of judges. The judges and the prosecutor will know that if they abuse their authority, they can be removed by a simple vote of the ICC's member nations, which include virtually every U.S. ally. What's more, the United Nations Security Council can adopt a resolution to stop any ICC investigation."


I am not willing to trust my fate or that of the officiale elected by me, or appointed by them to govern and protect my interests, to the good officies of either the "allies" you point to, or the Security Council either. There is damn little evidence out there that either would be fair or impartial. Moreover none of them are democratically or politically accountable to me.

Quote:

Furthermore, the ICC only covers "the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole [..] crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes", which I don't see encompassing "normal activity in Iraq" of an individual US soldier.

These statutes are vaguely written and able to encompass a very broad range of actions and multiple interpretations of their intent and effect. They do not meet the standards of criminal justice provided by U.S.law (military or civil) .

The "international community as a whole" is not a body to which I am willing to commit my fate or that of those elected by me for my governance. Indeed there is no such such body that can truly express the will of "the international community as a whole".. This is at best a sappy concept without real meaning.

Quote:
Basically, by this point in your post I am suspecting an elaborately erected straw man, based on assumptions and speculations concerning the ICC more than its actual foundations.


And I submit that you have not adequately read and reflected on what I have written. This is unlike you, Nimh.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 07:34 am
<shrugs>
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 07:52 am
Walter Hinteler wrote:

I've had to confirm by oath ( a couple of times, on various occassions) that I obey the (Basic) law(s) etc.

And I think, I live (today) in a civilised world, which distinguishes from the "primitive forms" in the centuries before - and perhaps still existing elsewhere.

Thus I have a different opinion.


I'm not sure of the nature of the "basic law" to which you have sworn oaths. I have sworn oaths to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States" - a document which mostly limits the authority of government, as opposed to placing obligations on individuals. I have also promised to obey the Ten Commandments - though I earnestly hope to escape earthly justice for my violations of them.

I believe you and I have different concepts of the durability of the values of the "civilized world", one which "distinguishes from the primitive forms of centuries before". In the first place most of the world today does not remotely approach the standards which I believe you have in mind. Moreover, even events in Europe demonstrate that they don't always apply even there. History clearly shows that such things rise and fall repeatedly. I make no pretense that we in the U.S. are any better.

Mostly I value democracy. I don't consent to being ruled or judged by others, not democratically accountable to me. I am willing to fight to preserve that. I think this point is one in which, on average, Americans differ from Europeans.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 07:54 am
Most Americans, on average, have no clue what ICC is.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 07:55 am
Ah, but they do know what WWE is and after all, that is far more important.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 08:02 am
and sad and disturbing.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2004 08:12 am
dagmaraka wrote:
Most Americans, on average, have no clue what ICC is.


How well do you know it? Do 'most Europeans' know any better?

"Most Americans" clearly understand that government depends on the consent of the governed - the fundamental principle of our democracy. We don't consent to the ICC.
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