Trump Administration Silences War Crime Allegations And Threatens The ICC

Keeping in line with an administration actively avoiding prosecution and the discovery of truth entitled to all citizens, U.S. national security advisor John Bolton made threats to the International Criminal Court (ICC) that may gravely affect global relations. After the ICC declared that it would continue to investigate claims of U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, Bolton was quick to leap to the defence of the U.S. and its allies, saying that if further action was taken by the ICC, the U.S. would impose sanctions on ICC funds.

As reported by Al Jazeera, Bolton goes further to protect Americans from international jurisdiction by saying that the U.S. might even ban ICC judges and prosecutors from the country altogether. While this is a troubling interference with law proceedings and justice, the fear these posturing threats betray is almost more incriminating than any court findings.

Founder of the ICC and ambassador for war crime issues David Scheffer comments on this sense of apprehension to The Guardian, saying, “This was a speech soaked in fear and Bolton sounded the message, once again, that the United States is intimidated by international law and multilateral organizations. I saw not strength but weakness conveyed today by the Trump Administration.”

In response to Bolton confirming the end of the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in D.C., only several months after the budget for Palestinian aid was cut by 200 million (per The Washington Post), senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says, “we reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to US threats and bullying and that we will continue our legitimate struggle for freedom, justice, and independence, including by all political and legal means possible.”

President Trump is infamous for deflecting conflict and escaping compromising accusations. From the Hollywood Access tape, to Stormy Daniels, to Omarosa, to Mueller’s ongoing investigation, it’s mind-boggling, and dangerous, that no one has been able to make the President answer to anyone for anything. No one, not even the president of a nation should be above being held accountable. Or else we dissolve into a morally corrupt authoritarian regime. One can only hope that the justice system Trump constantly tries to evade doesn’t fail.

It seems logical to deduce that if in fact Trump or his administration had nothing to hide, they wouldn’t be so adamant about dodging lawsuits and answering simple questions. So why are they consistently uncomfortable when faced with any inquiry?

Even though Bolton calls it an “illegitimate court,” the ICC is anything but that. It was formed in 2002 with a mission to ensure that mass atrocities such as genocide or crimes against humanity (war crimes) didn’t go unpunished. Previously there was no such system in place that was equipped to handle the trial and punishment of an entire nation. Currently, 123 countries are a part of the Rome Statute treaty which legalized and legitimized the ICC. (The U.S. is not among those who agreed to it).

One of the main problems the Trump Administration has with the ICC now is the fact that Palestine has called on the court to investigate crimes committed during Israeli occupation in Palestine.

In the past, the U.S. was more neutral when it came to disputes between Palestine and Israel and their fight for Gaza, which has been transpiring since the end of World War II. Yet in recent years there seems to be a stronger alliance between Israel and the U.S., especially among conservatives. Vox notes that former President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu feuded somewhat, but during Trump’s presidency the Israeli-American relationship has been bolstered by Trump openly going against Palestinians in order to pressure them into a peace treaty.

Currently, the ICC reports that they are within their legal prerogative to continue independently examining allegations of war crimes, and will not be deterred. Despite the U.S. and Bolton’s pressure for Palestine and the ICC to retire their efforts, neither has indicated that they will back down. Peace cannot prevail and a compromise cannot be made with any partisanship. Moving forward, President Trump must end his reign of punishing Palestine into submission as well as his blatant favouritism for Israel. Protecting the nation of Israel while applying force to Palestine will only breed hatred and destruction in the future, rather than mutual agreement and resolution.