Conservatives in America have long hated the International Criminal Court, which they believe threatens American sovereignty to uh, commit genocide and do war crimes. National security advisor John Bolton has probably waited years for the opportunity to personally threaten the court, and today he will finally get his chance, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In a transcript of prepared remarks Bolton is slated to read at a meeting of the Federalist Society today titled “Protecting American Constitutionalism and Sovereignty from International Threats,” he promises broad retribution against the court and any country who supports it if they are to investigate war crimes by Americans in Afghanistan or by Israel against the Palestinians. He is also expected to call for the closing of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in D.C., long a goal for pro-Israel politicians.
“The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” he wrote in the prepared remarks.
He then plans to go on to directly threaten the court.
From the Journal:
“If the court comes after us, Israel or other allies, we will not sit quietly,” Mr. Bolton planned to say, according to his prepared remarks.
Among the responses, Mr. Bolton says, the U.S. would ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the country.
“We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system,” Mr. Bolton adds. “We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”
The ICC is known to many as simply The Hague, the name of the city in The Netherlands where it resides. It began operation in 2002, and since then they’ve opened investigations into war crimes and genocides in places like Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The court has often been accused of being a tool of Western imperialism by African countries who believe they’re being unfairly targeted. The U.S. has also long held an antagonistic relationship with the court—an American law on the books would allow us to invade The Hague were it necessary to “free American citizens.” Neither the U.S. or Russia are members of the ICC.
This is all to say that the ICC is complicated. Countries seem to simultaneously criticize its ineffectiveness and fear its perceived threats to sovereignty. So far, the ICC has had little success in reining in war criminals around the world, and some argue that they’ve encouraged dictators to stay in power for as long as possible out of fear of what will happen if they’re arrested.
Bolton has tried to delegitimize and contain the court since his days in the Bush administration. “America’s long-term security depends on refusing to recognize an iota of legitimacy” of the ICC, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal last year. But this attitude represents a shift from America’s relationship with the ICC under Obama.
“It’s going to create friction that’s not necessary, and it’s going to create the impression the United States is a bully and a hegemon,” Stephen Pomper, who worked on issues involving the ICC under Obama, told the Journal.
David Bosco, a professor at Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies, told the Journal that Bolton’s actions would “mark a return to a kind of cold war between Washington and The Hague.”