"Today, on the eve of Sept. 11, I want to deliver a clear and unambiguous message on behalf of the president of the United States. The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court," Bolton continued. "We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own."
"In theory, the ICC holds perpetrators of the most egregious atrocities accountable for their crimes, provides justice to the victims, and deters future abuses. In practice, however, the court has been ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous," Bolton said. "Moreover, the largely unspoken, but always central, aim of its most vigorous supporters was to constrain the United States. The objective was not limited to targeting individual U.S. servicemembers, but rather America’s senior political leadership, and its relentless determination to keep our country secure."
If the laws that the International Criminal Court will enforce inspire no confidence, the process by which judges are selected inspires frank terror. There are all sorts of words about how candidates must be of good moral character, experience in the law, integrity, and so on and so forth, but the bottom line is that they're selected by secret vote amongst the signatory nations, with each nation having one vote and candidates requiring a two-thirds affirmation to be selected. (Andorra and Brazil each will get the same size vote.)
As I read through the description of the process, what it reminded me of more than anything is the kind of process that International Figure Skating uses to select its judges for major competitions such as the Olympics. (And we all know how that turned out, don't we?)
The process is loaded with safeguards which guard nothing, and what you'll end up with is a tribunal made up primarily of people from all over the world who will, in the main, look out for their own. Decisions will be based on horsetrading and mutual back-scratching, not on the basis of justice. And since the majority of signatories will be poor, powerless third-world nations, that's where the majority of the judges will be from, just as soon as they realize that they can form a voting bloc and use it to take over the mechanism. This is going to end up being just about as impartial as the UN General Assembly.All in all, I think that John Bolton was quite restrained in his words. If the ICC ever got jurisdiction over Americans the only redress would be Carrier Strike Groups off of the coast of enough of the Judges' home countries to make sure that the expected outcome was, well, expected (our way, not theirs).
The election of 2016 was the revolt of a significant number of voters against the exercise of unelected and unaccountable power. You don't see a more stark example of that than the ICC which is (like the United Nations) a cynical power grab swaddled in a lot of feel-good platitudes. I highly recommend den Beste's articles.
Hat tip: Kim du Toit.
Bootnote: den Beste's USS Clueless archives can be found here.