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Int'l Crimial Court & Other issues: US Vs. Europe........
by Saima Alvi
03 July 2002 07:47 UTC
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US distaste for international court has deep
historical roots 

By Matthew Engel 

WASHINGTON: As the international criminal court
quietly became a reality in the Hague, European
diplomats tried to stay optimistic that the Americans
would eventually stop sulking and join in its
operation. But the US's absence is seen by analysts in
Washington as something far deeper than an aberration
by the Bush administration, but instead reflects a
strand in American political philosophy that can be
traced back to George Washington. 

As an issue, the court is not even on the radar screen
in US politics, and it barely rates a mention except
in the elite newspapers. "If you asked anyone 10 miles
outside Washington about the ICC, they'd think it was
the latest boy pop band," said James Lindsay of the
Brookings Institution. 

But distaste for it runs deep among those who care.
President Bush's instincts are against international
bodies of this kind, and current politics ensure there
is little reason for him to contemplate changing his
mind. This is an issue on which there is no
institutional split between the two traditional
bureaucratic antagonists: the departments of state and

Inside the administration, the intellectual leader of
opposition to the ICC is believed to be John Bolton,
the under-secretary of state, who in January last year
- barely a fortnight before the Bush administration
took office - launched a public attack on President
Clinton's decision to sign the treaty creating the
court. He said the move was "injurious as well as
disingenuous", and that the court would be "an object
of international ridicule and politicised futility". 

He added: "The ICC's supporters have an unstated
agenda, resting, at bottom, on the desire to assert
the primacy of international institutions over nation

In the Pentagon, dislike of the court is both more
widespread and more visceral. The Boltonesque
instincts of political appointees, from Donald
Rumsfeld down, are matched by the military's
understandable desire to avoid any threat to their own

Even Clinton, being pushed by the Republicans, said he
would not recommend ratification but argued - in a
tactic akin to traditional British relations with
European institutions - that signing it would allow
the US to influence the court's development. Now
congressional Democrats, sensing no mileage in the
issue, are almost silent when rightwingers trumpet
their opposition. 

In May Tom DeLay, the Republican whip in the House of
Representatives, persuaded the appropriations
committee to authorise the president to rescue any
American held by the court. One lone Democrat did ask
if DeLay understood that he was proposing an invasion
of the Netherlands. 

"There is a deep-seated and deeply held belief in the
Republican party that American security depends on
minimizing constraints on American freedom," Lindsay

"This is a world view that can certainly be traced
back to Theodore Roosevelt, and arguably to George
Washington's warning that the country should avoid
foreign entanglements. This strain in political
thought was largely dormant for 40 years because of
the cold war. It has become dominant again
now."-Dawn/The Guardian News Service. 


Europe angry as US goes solo 

By Richard Norton-Taylor, Ewen MacAskill & Ian Black 

LONDON: America's European allies expressed "deep
regret" on Monday over US threats to pull out of UN
peacekeeping operations, the latest in a string of
disputes shaking the trans-Atlantic alliance. 

The Bush administration said it would not budge in its
opposition to the new international criminal court,
which was created on Monday. Threatening to block a
renewed mandate for the Bosnian peacekeeping force, it
argues that the ICC could be a forum for politically
motivated actions against its troops serving overseas.

"This is a very important matter of principle about
protecting Americans who uniquely serve around the
globe in peacekeeping efforts," said Ari Fleischer,
the White House press secretary. "The world should
make no mistake the United States will stand strong
and stand on principle to do what's right to protect
our citizens." 

The European commission president, Romano Prodi, said
he was deeply concerned by Washington's opposition.
"It's another movement of division between Europe and
the US that we have to avoid at any cost," he said. 

Per Stig Moeller, foreign minister of Denmark - which
has just taken over the EU presidency - angrily
condemned the American stance. 

Tony Blair insisted that safeguards built into the
ICC's statute made it "inconceivable" for British
peacekeeping forces - or their American counterparts -
to risk prosecution for alleged war crimes. 

Individual members of armed forces would only be
prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity or
genocide if their own courts took no action. 

Lord Ashdown, the UN's high representative in Bosnia,
expressed his concern directly to Colin Powell, the US
secretary of state, in a phone conversation. He hoped
that the US administration "would not do anything that
placed at risk the huge progress towards the peace and
stability achieved since the end of the war". 

The other day Nato played down the risks to the S-For
peacekeeping force in Bosnia, saying it could continue
whatever the US position because the mission had been
authorised by the 1995 Dayton peace accords. But the
US threat has been criticized across Europe as a
galling example of America's rapidly accelerating
trend towards unilateralism under the Bush

EU diplomats warned there were now worries about other
UN-mandated peacekeeping operations, including the
Nato-led K-For mission in Kosovo. "This is a question
with implications that go far beyond Bosnia," said

The increasingly rancorous dispute between Britain and
the US over the ICC is the latest in a string of
quarrels ranging from the treatment of Al Qaeda
prisoners to steel tariffs, from the conduct of
military operations in Afghanistan to Yasser Arafat's
Palestinian leadership. 

In London, government advisers are angry and deeply
worried. Such phrases as "very unhelpful",
"bloody-minded", "playing to the gallery" are being
used across departments - including at the UK Ministry
of Defence. 

In addition to the row over the ICC, British officials
are increasingly sceptical about US military conduct
in Afghanistan. 

The clearest divide came in the wake of Bush's speech
on the Middle East, in which he declared Arafat to be
someone with whom his administration could no longer
do business. Blair took a different tack, reflecting
the European view that while Arafat had been a
disappointment, he was the elected leader of the
Palestinian people. 

The Middle East has thrown up other disagreements.
"Iraq is approaching down the track," one worried
British official said. Amid bellicose statements from
the White House, Bush has made the overthrow of Saddam
Hussein one of the main objectives of his
administration. But though Britain acknowledges that
his demise would be welcome, regime change is not a
policy aim. 

There is a widespread feeling in London that the Bush
administration is playing a dangerous game by trying
to combat terrorism but ignoring its causes. 

Issues of dispute: International criminal court: The
court, which came into being on Monday, is intended to
act as a deterrent to tyrants who embark on widescale
human rights abuses. 

Afghanistan: The US has been accused of allowing Al
Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to flee from Tora Bora
because it was afraid of putting its troops on the
ground. There is also strain over policy towards

Guantanamo Bay: The US says Al Qaeda prisoners at its
camp in Cuba should not be covered by the Geneva
convention. Europeans are concerned about their legal

Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The US is seen as
leaning towards Israel and Europe towards the
Palestinians. Blair was mainly in the US camp until
last week when he diverged from Bush's statement that
Washington would no longer do any business with the
Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. 

Iraq: Europe still favours the containment of Saddam
Hussein. The US, by contrast, has regime change as a
policy objective. 

Iran: Britain since 1997 has adopted a policy of
"constructive" engagement, in contrast with the US,
which places Iran high on its list of countries that
form the "axis of evil." 

Defence: Europe is sceptical about the US missile
defence project. Washington says Europe is not
spending enough on defence. 

Galileo satellite system: The US says Europe's rival
to its GPS (global positioning system) network is a
potential threat to its security interests. 

Steel tariffs: Europe says the US action to slap
tariffs on steel imports is protectionist and goes
against free trade. Europe is planning a raft of
retaliatory counter-tariffs.-Dawn/The Guardian News


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