The United States and the World - The ICC Question

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Lord Bane, Jul 14, 2002.

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  1. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Wow, look who is back! The original rabble rouser.

    Let me ask you a question, being from the UK , why do you hate America so much? I always thought that the US and the UK were pretty good allies.

    I mean if you are still sore about the whole revolutionary war thing, I can assure you the war is over, we forgive you :)

    Or are you one of those spikey haired "cheeky" Brits that I see on the tellie? ;)
  2. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    SidiousDragon ... I must admit I'm stunned that you continue to utterly dismiss all of the legitimate concerns that have been presented on the United States behalf and continue to posit that the US only stonewalls because it is afraid of some non-existent conspiracy.

    Stunned I am. Begun this clone wars has.
  3. topgoalscorer_no11 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2001
    star 3
    I'm from the UK, and am in general a supporter of the US, however I believe they should join the ICC although I'm by no means an expert on the issue.

    For a start- whatever 'concerns' the US might have, they are also a concern for EVERY OTHER COUNTRY who signs up for such an enterprise. Why the US see themselves as unique in this I don't know.

    The main reason the US should join from my point of view is because the matter is one of principle.

    My personal belief is that pragmatism and realpolitik have to be set aside at some point and risks must be taken. The principle behind the ICC is at heart a noble one. It's the way of progress. Due to the nature of international commerce and communication, isolationism is ultimately going to prove a useless policy.

    The constitutional arguments mean nothing to me. Harmony in international relations does.

    Many Americans are amazed at the attitude towards them in the rest of the world. The hatred of the US is based mostly on ignorance, and yet it is exactly issues such as this which foster such perceptions. The Kyoto treaty on the environment is another example. These agreements are not meant to be punitive attacks on the US, but represent a genuine attempt by the peoples of the world to simply make things better. The US has to be prepared to give a little, not merely sign up to whatever benefits them and ignore what doesn't suit. To join the ICC might be to acknowledge that there is something bigger and more powerful than the nation-state- our shared humanity perhaps. And this is why I believe the US should sign up.

    Couple the attitude of the US to the international community to jealousy over America's economic and military might, add in the fact that countless millions in the world live in abysmal poverty and are bombarded with media images of US wealth, and what do you get? The current international climate- September 11th.

    I realise my argument is an extremely general one- I apologise for not being au fait with the ins and outs of this particular issue, but I believe the level of international cooperation on exactly the kind of ideal that the ICC represents will determine whether the world becomes even more fractured, or whether in the long term a solution can be find.

    The only reason the US doesn't join in my opinion- typical political short-termism. THE problem of the Western democracies. Long term planning is needed. You can come up with a reason not to do anything if you ignore longer term implications.

    Thanks.
  4. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    The constitutional arguments mean nothing to me

    They mean a lot to Americans, and for good reason. It's the foundation of the United States.
  5. topgoalscorer_no11 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2001
    star 3
    If I may reiterate.

    There should be an acknowledgement that there is something greater and more important than the nation-state.

    I suppose you assume that other nations don't have constitutions and that sovereignty is not an issue. You're very wrong. They've managed to overcome this. Why can't Americans?

    What a dissapointingly predictable and typical US response.

    Give me a decent geopolitical or philosophical argument on why the ICC is a bad idea. That's the level of debate I'm interested in. Not nitpicking over legalities.
  6. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    If you are interested, go back and review the first three pages of this thread. There is a variety of arguements presented...
  7. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    There should be an acknowledgement that there is something greater and more important than the nation-state

    According to whom? I'm not saying there is or isn't, but that doesn't sound good to me.

    I suppose you assume that other nations don't have constitutions and that sovereignty is not an issue. You're very wrong. They've managed to overcome this. Why can't Americans?


    You assume incorrectly. I'm well aware that other nations have their own constitutions. I'm glad you feel so strongly about your own position that you can outright call me wrong. Simply because other nations have "overcome" their constitutions and apparent sovereignty issues does not mean the United States is in any way required to, nor does it mean that it is a good thing to do in the first place.

    What a dissapointingly predictable and typical US response.

    That kind of cynicsm is what clouds these discussions and prevents true understanding from happening.
  8. Red-Seven Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 21, 1999
    star 5
    Good post.

    Why the US see themselves as unique in this I don't know.

    The constitutional arguments mean nothing to me. Harmony in international relations does.


    As I said above or on a previous page, my position (and hopefully that of the American government) is not just that this is a bad or flawed idea for the USA to join, but that it is flawed for everyone, as a whole. Judiciaries cannot be apolitical. Their powers must be checked and in balence to democratically empowered legislatures. The ICC in its current form has no oversite from voters, and therefore no basis for power. It can quite easily be viewed as illegitimate; after all, should judges be selected and approved by an accountable legislature or by political horse-trading.

    In addition to this is the question of the Constitution, and the inability to reconcile subverting domestic power to international bodies without violating the spirit and letter of our system of government. Yes, this peculiarity and the disconnect between executive and legislative approval has left the US slow to ratify treaties and rather aloof at times,but it does not close off all avenues of international harmony. The US constitution does not preach isolationism or neutrality, but it does specify that sovereignty empowered by people cannot be surrendered at whim.


    The main reason the US should join from my point of view is because the matter is one of principle.


    On this point you resonate a bit. Yes, it is in the US's interest to continue advancing the causes of international law and other standards. In terms of realpolitik, it is a much more cost effective way to extend our values and peace around the world. The end-goal of American power is not to dominate, but to enable others to trade and choose their leaders, etc, and measures like the ICC and the UN can be helpful in this goal. Most of the time.

    So yes, as a country founded on the rule of law, the US has a calling to support this venture on principle. I think that the idea is being oversold, and is premature, personally. The moral imperitive conflicting with the ideological position of our Constitution (and superpower pragmatism) is what makes this a discussion, and not a slam-dunk.



    The Kyoto treaty on the environment is another example. These agreements are not meant to be punitive attacks on the US, but represent a genuine attempt by the peoples of the world to simply make things better. The US has to be prepared to give a little, not merely sign up to whatever benefits them and ignore what doesn't suit.


    Kyoto is a good parrallel. Kyoto is a treaty that the US thought was fundamentally flawed, didn't address important areas (developing countries), and cost too much to acheive too little. I believe that the majority of the opposition to Kyoto in America is on the grounds that it is a flawed treaty, not that it hurts American too much or isolationism on the issue of climate control.

    Where our foreign policy fails is the lack of dialouge. The US needs to submit its own counter-proposal on climate change, to shift discussion back to 'what do we need to do, and what will work' and away from 'why won't the yanks sign up for this? they bloody pollute more than the rest of us!'



    (I thought your linkage to September 11th was also flawed. The vast majority of the bombers were from rich Saudi families, and the ire of al Qaeda and many of the other islamist terror groups stems more from the US military in Saudi Arabia and possibly Israel and US support for corrupt Arab regimes than for abject poverty. The people are not fools, they know it is their corrupt leaders that are starving them...they are angry that the US deals with and sometimes funds these leaders.

    Far too many pundits in the UK gets this linkage wrong. I had to sit through too many idiot talking heads on Question Time for my blood pressure.)
  9. topgoalscorer_no11 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2001
    star 3
    >>Simply because other nations have "overcome" their constitutions and apparent sovereignty issues does not mean the United States is in any way required to<<

    This exactly the kind of argument which makes people cynical towards the US! Don't get me wrong here. I'm not trying to play devils advocate or anything. And I'm about as pro-US as you're likely to get outside America itself.

    The true cynicism is in your statement when you say 'required to'. I never for a moment tried to claim that America is obliged in any way other than perhaps on a 'moral' level.

    Of course the US doesn't have to. It's exactly the reason why they should. Take a moral and political as well as a military lead, and America might begin to win the argument.

    Britain is perhaps the only nation in Europe, maybe even alone in the world in that we would give anything other than mealy mouthed support for say- an invasion of Iraq.

    The US is seen as a bully, a steamroller who fail to fufill international treaty obligations, ignore the UN, fail to sign up to things such as the ICC, then expect the world to support when they enforce justice on peoples who they feel have wronged them.

    Also, the idea that there is something greater than the nation state 'doesn't sound good' to you. I'm sorry to hear that. Nationalism was the curse of the 20th century, and looks like being the same in the 21st.

    I know it's difficult, but for a moment forget that you're an American, and try and see things from a global perspective. What's good for you is often bad for many other people.

  10. topgoalscorer_no11 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2001
    star 3
    Red-Seven.

    You make good points. I find myself becoming peculiarly idealistic when it comes to this vague idea I have about 'world peace'.

    And I'm with you 100% on question time. I shriveled with embarassment at much of the ignorant ranting against the US. The Left disgust me sometimes with their opportunism.

    But I think the EU is flawed, and the single currency. And yet I would vote 'Yes' to join, simply because the concept is... beautiful.

    The idea that 50 years after tanks ravaged the European continent we could be politically united is one I find irressistable. What a testament to our - and I include the US in this - Western civilisation. So in spite of all flaws I feel there is room for idealism.
  11. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    I know it's difficult, but for a moment forget that you're an American, and try and see things from a global perspective. What's good for you is often bad for many other people.

    I'm rather non-patriotic, and it's mostly because I believe in something greater than nations in general. I already look beyond America, and nations in general when I'm feeling idealistic.

    Indeed, you're more or less telling me things that I already know and/or believe in. Also, it was your tone I didn't like, not the idea of something beyond nation-states.
  12. topgoalscorer_no11 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2001
    star 3
    I can understand why you didn't like my tone.

    It is rather preachy and holier-than-thou isn't it?

    Sorry.
  13. Red-Seven Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 21, 1999
    star 5
    But I think the EU is flawed, and the single currency. And yet I would vote 'Yes' to join, simply because the concept is... beautiful.


    I can sympathize with that viewpoint. My personal politics (and the politics of the USA, though not necessarily in an overlapping manner) is a strange mix of the pragmatic and idealistic, the assertive and the removed, the imperial and the accommodating. I see the flaws in the EU and the trap that is the single currency...and also the symbolic allure of the idea.

    In the end, though, I feel that though the single currency or the ICC or Kyoto may have the positive karma working on its side, I don't think that in the cases of climate change, international law and order and European development and peace that karma is going to be an important element. For your example, though Britain joining the single currency would be in poetic juxtaposition to Hitler and Verdun and the Iron Curtain, I don't think that there will be 'negative karma' from retaining independence from the Continent, and a good deal of fiscal, monetary and sovereignty to lose. In the case of the US and the ICC, you may be right...but I remain unconvinced, and skeptical that it is an idea too far ahead of its time and function.

    You are right that sometimes it is better to be brave and idealistic and reject pragmatism. A good example of this, for me, would be to begin pushing the Middle Eastern goverments for reform and openness and democracy, despite the dangers of fundamentalists rising up in the ashes of seemingly benign dictators. But that is another discussion.


    The real problem of Kyoto and the ICC and the Biological weapons treaty and the other threaties that the US (and especially President Bush) has taken unilateral action on has changed the tone of the discussion, and ceded an great oppurtunity. From the fall of communism (soviet collapse and chinese market reform) to the booming American economy of the 90's to the polarizing effect of Sept. 11th, America is in a unique position of overwhelming relative strength in the world in almost any measure of power (knowledge, money, guns, culture). We are in a position where the US can affect tremendous change - for the better - on the world over the next two decades. One great avenue for this is selective uses of multilateral agreements...but instead of America being able to use these idea for good, we have put ourselves in a position where we are acting defensively, or abandoning what should be seen as a tool, not a thorn.


    Interesting sidebar...do these international agreements *need* to include America? It certainly looks bad to be so explicitly 'above' other countries, but may reflect the reality and practicality of the situation better. Hmmm.
  14. topgoalscorer_no11 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2001
    star 3
    I agree with what you say on the Middle East, you're simply right, no question.

    I'd like to see Third World Debt written off. In spite of the corruption and the imbeciles who govern many African nations.

    Returning to the topic, though. Let's say you're right on the ICC and the EU. The thing I think governments should ask themselves is- do they wait for the conditions to occur whereby these organisations work, and then join, or should they join, and pro-actively make them work. Take a lead, as opposed to watching them fail.

    If anybody could lend something such as the ICC the credibility it needs, it's the US. An earlier poster was right, the ICC needs the US more than vice-versa. It's the easy option to sit back, watch somebody fail, then say 'I told you so...'

    Surely the thing to do is to reform from the inside. One of the major problems with the UK as regards the EU is the length of time we took to join, our opposition and obfuscation at every turn. The result is that now we are in the EU anyway, and probably don't wield the influence the relative strength of the nation deserves.

    So perhaps the US could drive the project forward, take responsibility and shape it in the way it desires.

    Red's persuaded me that it's something the US *could* do, rather than *should* do. So don't say I don't have an open mind.
  15. Fingorfin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2001
    star 4
    Topgoalscorer_no11, you ask for a moral reason why a country (specifically the US) should not agree to the ICC. The highest duty of a nation is to protect the welfare of its citizens. Under this agreement, the US feels that her citizens may be subjected to unjust prosecution, do to anti-American sentiment among the nations that will make up the court, therefore the US is obligated not to join because if it did so, it would violate the duty to protect its citizens. The idea and intentions of the ICC may be good, but until the world is mature enough to see beyond its jealousy, it is not worth the very real risk of wrongful prosecution, no matter how noble the reasoning behind it.
  16. topgoalscorer_no11 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2001
    star 3
    And yet, Fingorfin, refusing to join the ICC is hardly going to change that anti-American sentiment you're afraid of is it? It'll surely just breed more resentment.

    Your argument seems a little self defeating.

    If the world seems immature, then sometimes you have to be the big man, and set an example. Of course a state must protect its citizens, you are absolutely correct, but I think your fears are unfounded.
  17. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Also, you claim that the ICC would be a good way for America to take the morally high ground.

    What people have to realize is that the US already does everything contained in the treaty as a matter of principle. As a country, we have the safeguards of our own ICC at home and abroad.

    This is the same for all of the other westernized powers. Why do you think there have been so many exceptions inserted into the framework? Nobody seriously thinks that a country like GB or France will ever fall under the ICC.

    The safeguards of the ICC are designed to help nations that are still struggling with human rights issues, such as Rwanda, Zaire, or Bosnia.

    The US isn't objecting to the treaty's goals. It is objecting to the politcal situation behind the treaty. We don't need to fall under the treaty in order to support it.
    At last count the US was involved with 39 seperate peacekeeping missions, and I bet England has about the same. The so called great nations are already helping the developing ones.

    You can disagree with some of our foreign policy, or how we impliment it, but that is a topic for a different forum.
    Even if the US did sign the ICC treaty, the original intent of the protocol has been lost through political manuvering and individual exemptions
  18. Fingorfin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2001
    star 4
    It does breed resentment, yes, but as has been pointed out earlier in this debate, there are other countries that refuse to allow their soldiers to be tried by this court. If this is a larger moral issue and not just another excuse to put down the US, why is there no resentment and outrage directed towards them? Our government has decided that it is worth the trouble to protect our soldiers; is that not our right as a sovereign nation?

    I do not agree that our fears are groundless. This court will not be used to prosecute leaders and presidents that order genocide; it will be used to prosecute the pilot whose bomb goes astray and hits a home or the artillery man who is given incorrect information and targets a school instead of a bunker. The descriptions of crimes are too vague to avoid this and the selection process for the judges is to open to influence by political opportunists to make sure that this does not happen. That is why no country should agree to this court. One does not set a good example by going along with a bad idea simply because everyone else does.
  19. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    "your fears about the treaty are unfounded"

    As we all know, the US is constantly under world scrutiny. That is the reality of the situation, bad or good.

    As I understand it, the judges which would make up the panel would be appointed from a UN pool.

    Just suppose that the US did sign the treaty and incorporated it into it military law. Now, a service memeber is put before the court for whatever reason.

    The judges that just "happen" to draw the case are from Syria, Lybia, North Korea, and the Sudan. Do you think that this servicemember would be treated fairly and in accordance with his US national rights?

    of course not. I do not mean to find fault with any of those countries. They are not "evil", just because we are at odds with them, but they all have a grievance against the US. right or wrong, you cannot ignore the reality of the situation.

    The US already has a well established military code that governs its armed forces. Why jepordize that or the sake of some percieved moral ground, for a treaty that has lost its original focus anyway?

    edit: bravo Fingor! you said it better than I could..
  20. topgoalscorer_no11 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2001
    star 3
    I have no major irks with US foreign policy in general, but it does seem to be a bit of a PR disaster at times. Again, it's the perception of the US that is the problem.

    If, as you say 'Nobody seriously thinks that a country like GB or France will ever fall under the ICC' then you have little to worry about. The GB is in the same boat as the US. But why should a war criminal from, say, the former Yugoslavia submit himself to the judgement of the court when the leaders, both political and military, of other nations are not subject to the same rules. I wouldn't. Again- it's about perception. Why is there one rule for some, and another for the big powers? That's not right.

    Without meaning to sound patronising, the idea that no-one from a major power could be prosecuted sounds a little naive to me. The bombing of populated areas is an absolute minefield, if you'll excuse the phrase, so to say they'd not be subject to an inquiry is jumping the gun a bit, if you'll again excuse my phraseology.

    EDIT: Ah, Fingorfil, I agree with you, but the rules on bombing need to be sorted out. Perhaps you're right here.

    Not joining also implies, to those who are looking for such an implication, that the US has something to hide. I don't believe you do, but there are many who don't share my enlightened attitude. It's about transparency. No-one trusts an in-house enquiry.

    In this media-led world, the way the US is percieved abroad *is* important. Even the US can't afford to be totally isolated.
  21. Master Ood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 1998
    star 4
    well after reading all of this i have a question. people who i won't name have asked for proof regarding people thinking the ICC will be corrupt. well i ask the same, give me proof it WON'T be corrupt.

    also the above individual stated that the same corruption could be said of U.S. courts. YEP you are absolutly right. judges in American courts have been corrupted in the past.

    to me, i take that statement as the ICC judges will be above coruption but U.S. judges aren't?

    well you ask for proof, i say that is your proof in a manner of speaking. prove it is corrupt, well you can't until the ICC actually tries some people. but does it have the potential to be corupt? sure does. all you can do is base things on the past and we know first hand of corrupt judges (heck prohibition even though it is so long ago is a great example of judges on the take) so it is logical to have the same fear about the ICC. "well that is a chance you take joining the ICC just as you would in one of your US courts?" you may counter with and i answer you by saying yes it is. BUT there is a difference between taking some cash to give a verdict of "not guilty" as opposed to a panel of judges where the majority of them blame their countries 3rd world status on those "imperialistic Americans" who then proceed to convict some poor U.S. soldier to "send a message" to that tyrant G.W.

    AND as Mr44 has pointed out (i too have a copy of FM 27-10: The Law of Land Warfare sitting next to me) the military already incorporates signed treaties into our UCMJ.

    now what about the moral implications of joining the ICC?? sure it definitly needs us more than we need it. however just joining it join it to send a message is the wrong answer. it is just too vague. could you imagine if you country participates in some military action the ICC deems illegal and they start asking for you countries leadership handed over to be tried? WHOA if that happened i don;t think you would be so quick to say "join just to send a message" anymore. that exact circumstance is one of the reasons the U.S. stays out of the ICC. if the ICC based it laws on participating countries various constitutions i think there would be a greater chance of the U.S joining.

    one last thing, to echo what Mr44 said, the ICC is for those countries who are in such disarray that the ICC would be the only law it has.
  22. Fingorfin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2001
    star 4
    Not joining also implies, to those who are looking for such an implication, that the US has something to hide.
    The key phase here is "to those who are looking for such an implication." These are the people that will not be satisfied with anything that we do. If we were to place ourselves under the jurisdiction of the court, these would be the people that would lead the charge to prosecute our soldiers for any mistake that leads to the death of a noncombatant. An inquiry into such things by the US military would not be a secret, as many seem to think; our press loves to dig up any dirt it can on the military.

    I agree that the US has a serious problem with the way we are perceived by the world right now, but many of those that hold these perceptions are the ones I mentioned above. Joining a few international organizations cannot sway them. I am not sure how to solve this problem, but I do know that making ourselves vulnerable to them is not the answer.
  23. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    how can I say this without sounding egotistical, because I really don't mean to.

    "how can a leader from the former Yugoslavia summit to the court if those from the big powers don't have to."

    The leader from Yugoslavia does not have a choice. The western powers will come in and get him or bomb until he complies. NATO has an active unit that hunts down war criminals, there is nothing voluntary about it for the suspected criminals. I highly doubt that Bush or Blair or Chirac has to worry about the same thing.

    Is this the big guys pushing around the little guys? You bet. Is it reality. You bet. Will the ICC eliminate this? No Way.

    I just take offense to to claim that it is ONLY the US that is doing this. The US might be the lead element and therefore takes most of the political fallout, this just means we have to be more careful.

    The truth of the matter is that the permament members of the UN will always dictate policy for the smaller countries.

    The ICC was designed to give the citizens of those smaller countries some protection that their government does not provide. NOT to make every country accountable to every other.

    And yes I know this post sounds harsh, I'm not intending it to be, but there is a reality that can't be ignored. It upsets me because I know that this unfair aspect contributes to all sorts of problems.
  24. topgoalscorer_no11 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2001
    star 3
    Yeah, well.

    Maybe now's not the time, given the world situation.

    The question is whether you think an organisation such as the ICC is a good idea or not. I'm sure it could be made to work. It's not meant to prosecute pilots, the point is for it to be a deterrent to the likes of the dictators of the twentieth century who caused such pain and misery to millions, who debased humanity in such sickening ways.

    An international criminal court, with teeth (ie US support and sponsorship) could potentially provide such a deterrent. It's to defend the innocent from monstrous atrocities. That's the ICC I would like to see. I think that with the leadership of the US and the other great powers it could be made to work and be a genuine force for good in the world.

    If you don't care about this, then fine. I'm obviously not going to be able to persuade you.

    But I think that too many who oppose the ICC are having their heads clouded by this idea that it would be used to snipe at the US.

    Hitler and Stalin escaped justice. Around the world former dictators live in luxury and not all of them in third world countries. Sure, you can say it's somebody elses problem, but I think that's just plain wrong.

    EDIT: Mr44, what I meant was- how could someone from the former Yugoslavia 'feel' he was recieving a fair trial, if others are not judged by the same standard? Justice must be *seen* to be done, as well as just being done, if you catch the meaning.
  25. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Let me say that I believe in the ideals of the ICC. I really do.

    All I want to point out is that we don't really live in a world of ideals. I feel with you about the desire to right social injustice where ever it is.

    But, the fact is that we already have everything in place that the ICC lists. The US and GB already hunt war criminals. We already offer economic and social aid. We have young people on the ground sacracficing themselves for some far away land. Overall, I'd say we(all the western powers)still manage to do a pretty good job.

    The whole process surrounding the ICC has become too political and the treaty itself has become too watered down. I suppose the US could be like France and sign the treaty, but make itself exempt from the rules. I imagine the press would still attack THAT decision..

    We do not yet live in a world where there is true inter-governmental cooperation. The ideal is there, its just that the ICC is the wrong forum for it.

    All it represents is a toothless tiger.
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