Trump to International Criminal Court: Don't touch our servicemen, or else

Last week, the Trump administration in the person of secretary of state Mike Pompeo gave the European international set another swift and deserved kick in the derrière.  That's when the secretary of state made it known that the U.S. will not grant visas to members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) who attempt to come here to investigate any alleged war crimes by members of the American military in Afghanistan.  The ICC has been making noises to that effect. Pompeo also said economic sanctions could follow if the ICC persists.

Before getting into the matter, some background on the ICC is useful.

The ICC is an international tribunal centered in The Hague, Netherlands.  It claims to have the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for international crimes ranging from genocide to war crimes to crimes of aggression.  This "court" was birthed by the Rome Statute in July 2002.

As of this writing, 124 countries have signed on to the treaty.  Here is the list.

The United States most definitely did not sign on, as it views the ICC as a threat to national sovereignty.  As the treaty was wrangling its way going through the approval process in 2000, President Clinton decided not to submit it to the U.S. Senate for approval, nor would he recommend that his successor do so.

Next up was Dubya, who "went Mr. Clinton one further":

He worked with Congress to pass the American Service-Members Protection Act.  It guards our GIs and officials from criminal prosecution by "any international court to which the United States is not a party."  It passed the Democrat-led Senate by a vote of 71 to 22.  The opposition to the ICC was bipartisan. 

Just to nail down the matter, Mr. Bush in 2002 sent one of his under state secretaries, John Bolton at the time, over the United Nations to, as the Associated Press put it, 'ceremonially unsign' the Rome statute.

The American Service-Members Protection Act has teeth in it, the sharpest of which is that it authorizes the U.S. president, by "all means necessary and appropriate[,] to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned on behalf of, or at the request of, the International Criminal Court."

European critics and those like Human Rights Watch have dubbed this American law the "Hague Invasion Act."  That's because freeing U.S. citizens detained by the court might be possible, in their minds, only by an invasion of the Hague.  They must have visions of the 101st and 82nd Airborne dropping from the sky on the Netherlands to free some G.I. Joe held in detention. 

Just so it is clear: America takes crimes committed by its military personnel seriously.  In such cases, the U.S. will handle the matter, not the ICC.  To do otherwise would be a betrayal of those in our military.

Mike Pompeo did not break any new ground with his announcement.  But after eight years of the Obama presidency, it was necessary to remind the international community, especially the pompous Europeans, that the U.S. takes its sovereignty seriously and will not be tied down by foreign bureaucrats even if they put on judicial robes.

Image: Jeff Turner via Flickr.

Last week, the Trump administration in the person of secretary of state Mike Pompeo gave the European international set another swift and deserved kick in the derrière.  That's when the secretary of state made it known that the U.S. will not grant visas to members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) who attempt to come here to investigate any alleged war crimes by members of the American military in Afghanistan.  The ICC has been making noises to that effect. Pompeo also said economic sanctions could follow if the ICC persists.

Before getting into the matter, some background on the ICC is useful.

The ICC is an international tribunal centered in The Hague, Netherlands.  It claims to have the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for international crimes ranging from genocide to war crimes to crimes of aggression.  This "court" was birthed by the Rome Statute in July 2002.

As of this writing, 124 countries have signed on to the treaty.  Here is the list.

The United States most definitely did not sign on, as it views the ICC as a threat to national sovereignty.  As the treaty was wrangling its way going through the approval process in 2000, President Clinton decided not to submit it to the U.S. Senate for approval, nor would he recommend that his successor do so.

Next up was Dubya, who "went Mr. Clinton one further":

He worked with Congress to pass the American Service-Members Protection Act.  It guards our GIs and officials from criminal prosecution by "any international court to which the United States is not a party."  It passed the Democrat-led Senate by a vote of 71 to 22.  The opposition to the ICC was bipartisan. 

Just to nail down the matter, Mr. Bush in 2002 sent one of his under state secretaries, John Bolton at the time, over the United Nations to, as the Associated Press put it, 'ceremonially unsign' the Rome statute.

The American Service-Members Protection Act has teeth in it, the sharpest of which is that it authorizes the U.S. president, by "all means necessary and appropriate[,] to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned on behalf of, or at the request of, the International Criminal Court."

European critics and those like Human Rights Watch have dubbed this American law the "Hague Invasion Act."  That's because freeing U.S. citizens detained by the court might be possible, in their minds, only by an invasion of the Hague.  They must have visions of the 101st and 82nd Airborne dropping from the sky on the Netherlands to free some G.I. Joe held in detention. 

Just so it is clear: America takes crimes committed by its military personnel seriously.  In such cases, the U.S. will handle the matter, not the ICC.  To do otherwise would be a betrayal of those in our military.

Mike Pompeo did not break any new ground with his announcement.  But after eight years of the Obama presidency, it was necessary to remind the international community, especially the pompous Europeans, that the U.S. takes its sovereignty seriously and will not be tied down by foreign bureaucrats even if they put on judicial robes.

Image: Jeff Turner via Flickr.