Friday, 26 June 2009

It Is Worse Than I Had Thought

This post is dedicated to a new friend, who re-awakened my awareness of a piece of legislation that was very unpopular in The Netherlands, and about which most Americans seem to be ignorant.

Under the guise of protecting its Services Personnel from being tried for war crimes in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, it became law in 2002. At the time I had heard of it of course, but not paid it a lot of attention, apart from the fact that I felt that if someone did commit a war crime there should be some agency that ought to be able to deal with that matter. I have now had the time to do some research.

This law does not just protect American Service Personnel from being tried for war crimes in the ICC, when reading it completely it actually states:

The President is authorized all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US States and Allied Person who is being detained or imprisoned by, or on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.

US does not recognize the ICC and that is of course its right. US wants to protect its own service personnel from being tried for war crimes, to some extent I can understand that, as long as the US gives a guarantee that if any of their personnel commit a war crime they will themselves deal with the matter in the same way they dealt with the war crimes committed during the Second World War in Nuremberg (somehow I doubt they will give that guarantee, looking at some of the sentences passed during the Abu Ghraib trial for war crimes which were rather light when compared to the executions of war criminals following the Nuremberg trials).

The really bad part of this act is the Allied person bit. This might mean for example that if the ICC wanted to try a foreign head of state for human rights abuse or war crimes, and the US did not want this person tried, in theory the US would have the right to invade any country holding that person at the request of the ICC or, if the person was already in The Hague, it would have the right to invade The Netherlands. Furthermore, this does not require the House of Representatives or the Senate to consent, that decision can be made by the President alone.

If this is how the US treats its Allies, is it any wonder that more and more people this side of The Pond, are getting just a bit worried about US policies, and wonder why not more Americans listen to Ron Paul, who advocates a policy of non-involvement in foreign affairs.

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