November 13, 2012
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I recently read an article criticizing Obama’s stance with regards to the ICC. Some quotes are as follows:
* “But the United States would not accept the ICC under George W. Bush — and indeed, one of Romney’s own top advisers has said that Obama’s embrace of it reveals his weakness and passivity on national security, and his unwillingness to exercise international leadership.”
* “Bolton wrote that the ICC is “one of the world’s most illegitimate multilateral institutions,” adding that invoking it was an ‘abdication of responsibility’ on Obama’s part.”
* “Bolton added: Mr. Obama’s ready embrace of the International Criminal Court exemplifies his infatuation with handling threats to international peace and security as though they were simply local street crimes. It also reflects his overall approach to international affairs: a passive, legalistic America, deferring to international bodies, content to be one of 15 Security Council members rather than leading from the front. So embracing the ICC is tantamount to ‘leading from behind,’ right?”
The above thoughts have been widely circulated, especially post-election debates with Romney’s mention of the “World Court” and indicting Ahmadinejad under the Genocide Convention, which is addressed by the ICC. The criticisms outlined above are very in line with Andrea Birdsall’s assertions on why the United States is unwilling to be on board, written in The Monster That We Need to Slay.
While one stance is that US sovereignty “should be” preserved on matters of justice, since the US as a world power “shouldn’t” be undermined in judicial jurisdiction, another is that as a world power we do have an ethical obligation to participate, and maybe even lead, the global justice/peace effort. Though this decision may not be in the United States’ political self-interest, it does allow the US to join a global conversation of foreign policy, even using the pretext of “cooperation” to assume an influential role within the court. US support, in participation or providing resources, may even increase ICC productivity.
Though in the aftermath of our most recent Presidential Election, do we see Obama using his second term in office to carry out his initial hopes to end hostility with the ICC? Do we see him rising above Bolton-like critiques, in order to move the US forward, towards supporting ICC efforts, and joining the movement? And if not, what do we see Obama accomplishing on the road to global justice and peace?