Could International Criminal Court Deploy U.S. as World Law Enforcer?

The United States, which
continues to shun membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC)
for fear that it might itself be prosecuted, could wind up acting as the
ICC's military muscle on the planet. Having failed to prosecute anyone but
Africans since its creation in 2002, the ICC now actively woos the U.S.,
the world's most prolific perpetrator and sponsor of war crimes, crimes
against humanity, and genocide, as global enforcer of ICC indictments.

The ICC's 111 member
states are gathered in Kampala, Uganda, for a 12-day conference (May 31 - June 11) that is
largely focused on defining the international crime of "aggression," the
only crime listed under the ICC's mandate that is without agreed upon
definition. The next, much more difficult question: will the ICC
independently decide who shall be indicted for crimes of aggression, or
must the Court defer to the United Nations Security Council, where the
permanent members hold veto power? Predictably, the United States is
lobbying hard to maintain the Security Council as the sole arbiter of
global aggression. Smaller nations and human rights groups contend that
filtering indictments through the Security Council would further
"politicize" the ICC -- a code word for granting the great powers
immunity from prosecution.

From the African
standpoint, such immunity already exists, as evidenced by the
all-African lineup of 14 individuals indicted to date, including
the first sitting head of state, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. All
have been charged with war crimes, and eleven also face charges of
crimes against humanity. ICC prosecutors are currently considering
adding the crime of "genocide" to President al-Bashir's indictment. But
enforcement is problematic. ICC member states are treaty-bound to arrest
indicted persons that enter their territory. However, the African Union
collectively opposes Al-Bashir's indictment, officially on grounds that
it is an impediment to a peaceful settlement in Sudan's Darfur region,
but unofficially because of the ICC's color-coded notions of justice.

The United States cheers
the prosecutors on from its position of immunity, since only ICC members
fall under the Court's jurisdiction. But that doesn't stop Washington
from primping and posturing as a guardian of international
legality at the Kampala conference.

"It's hard to emphasize
how happy countries are to see us here," said State Department legal
affairs official Harold Koh. "They felt very distressed at the period of
U.S. hostility to the court. They're very excited about the Obama
administration and its renewed commitment to international law and
engagement. And they're just thrilled that we're here as an observer

No such commitment
international law exists, beyond President Obama's rhetorical
flourishes. The ridiculously titled U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes,
Stephen Rapp, advised the world not to hold its breath waiting on the
Americans to join the ICC. "[W]e're nowhere near that point," he told reporters in
Kampala. But Washington is quite eager to use the ICC as a tool of its
own foreign policy objectives. "What we're here talking about is ways
that we can support this court constructively when it works in our
interest," said Koh. "And so far in the cases it is taking on, they are
in our interests and in the interest of all of human kind."

The U.S. has the ICC's
Chief Prosecutor in its pocket. As reported by scholar-activists Samar Al-Bulushi and Adam

"In June 2009 at a public
event in the US, Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo declared the need
for 'special forces' with 'rare and expensive capabilities that regional
armies don't have,' and said that 'coalitions of the willing,' led by
the US, were needed to enforce ICC arrest warrants."

Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo
is volunteering the Court as an instrument of American R2P --
"Responsibility to Protect," the Obama administration's substitute for
the Bush doctrine that justified American wars to spread "democracy." As
defined by Susan Rice, Obama's snarling Ambassador to the UN: "The international community
has a responsibility to protect civilian populations from violations of
international humanitarian law when states are unwilling or unable to do

The U.S. is especially
keen to deploy R2P as cover for its own continued crimes in central
Africa, where Washington's main proxies in the region, Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda's
ruling Tutsi military, are the most culpable parties in the death of an
estimated six million Congolese. As recounted by Edward S. Herman and David
Peterson in their invaluable new book, The Politics of Genocide, since overrunning the
mineral-rich eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996,
Rwanda and Uganda "have largely carved up the DRC between them, helping
to cause a death toll more than fifteen times the scale of the
"genocide in Darfur."

But neither Uganda's
Museveni nor Rwanda's Paul Kagame nor any of the three U.S. presidents
that are culpable in the Congo genocide -- Bill Clinton, George W. Bush,
and Barack Obama -- will ever face indictment by the ICC.

Impunity extends from the
world's sole superpower to its capos and hit men, and makes a farce of
an International Criminal Court that appears ready to offer a marshal's
badge to the planet's biggest thug and bully: the United States.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!