On April 1, the Palestinians will be joining the International Criminal Court (ICC, click here for the story). Membership to the ICC brings a double-edged sword for for all who join. For not only will it provide a possible layer of protection from international crimes from external enemies, it makes one subject to prosecution as well. Thus, the old protest against using the Geneva Convention as a standard for how we treat prisoners from countries that have not signed will no longer be applicable to the Palestinians with regard to the ICC and international law.
Former Nuremberg prosecutor, Ben Ferencz, gives a brief account of how the ICC was founded and why (click here). The hope was that the principles used in the Nuremberg Trials could be used to establish the rule of law around the world. This use of international law could then serve as a substitute for the reliance on the rule of force which had such devastating results in WW II.
Some of the resistance to the ICC have come from the same nations that are currently protesting the Palestinians joining the ICC and with some of the same methods. Both Israel and the US have objected to the ICC. In addition, the US pressures some of the nations that receive aid from it into agreements that would grant immunity to all US personnel working in those countries from the ICC . In addition, a bill was passed allowing for the US to rescue any American held by the ICC.
The reasons for America's resistance to the ICC show that our leaders are steeped deep in tribalism--tribalism occurs when group loyal trumps commitment to principles and morals. In addition, though America has exercised the latitude to cite others with failure to follow international law, it sees any enforcement of international law on its own rulers or military personnel as an infringement on national sovereignty.
The implications are rather obvious and they revolve around American exceptionalism. The implications are that not only can the US convict any other nation or party of wrongdoing and violating international law without due process if it so chooses, it is above international scrutiny. Such means that only America and its special friends, such as Israel, have the right to enjoy national sovereignty. All others are under the jurisdiction of the US or its special friends. Resistance to the ICC is nourished and emerges from the Republican Party and the Pentagon, according to Ferencz (see previous link to Ferencz's article).
With that background information, we should note that Israel's and America's reactions to the Palestinians joining the ICC is not a surprise because it is the same-old same-old. Israel has threatened to cut off funding that is legally due to the Paletinians, the funding is actually Palestinian taxes collected by Israel, as well as electricity (click here and there). And it isn't as if such does not cause undue hardship on the Palestinian people considering how decimated the territories have become due to Israeli attacks. At the same time, the US explicitly states that the Palestinians are not allowed to join the ICC (click here) which can only mean that the US will not recognize any judgment made by the ICC against Israel when it involves the Palestinians. Noting again that joining the ICC also subjects Palestinians to judgments made by the ICC, one must have an extremely difficult task if one wants to claim that America and its protected friends really pursue the rule of law.
It is time that we Americans see ourselves for who we are. We are like any other empire whose collective ego is as vast as its riches and sphere of influence if not more. The reason why we resist the rule of law is because our collective self-righteousness has made us feel entitled to forego it and our military might makes us think that we don't need it. But History shows that no empire lasts forever. And, because of the inevitable proliferation of WMDs, the only question that remains is this: Will we bring down the whole world with us when we fall?
One thing must be added for America's Christians. Any Christian who supports our gratuitous reliance on the rule of force shows that rather than standing for the Gospel and God's Word, he or she has settled for assimilation. So rather than playing the role of a prophet, some of us have decided to repeat the sins of Israel when they were judged for practicing idolatry and injustice.
|This Month's Scripture Verse:|
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10