International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Looking Ahead

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?


2 responses to “Looking Ahead

  1. branwall1 November 13, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    As discussed on the blog and in class, the United States seems to be in a good position with the ICC right now. We can deal with it amicably without sacrificing our own sovereignty in ways that would be required of member states of the Court. With the currently polarized political atmosphere, it seems that it will be very easy to remain in this position. Any move toward the ICC on Obama’s part will be met with tremendous resistance, and I don’t really see Obama changing his mind to appease the opponents of the ICC (for fear of appearing weak to citizens of the US), especially because in his second term he has little incentive to appeal to the other end of the political spectrum. Therefore, I do not think Obama will successfully end all of the hostility with the ICC, nor do I see him backing down or cutting any further ties with the Court.

    It seems that a lot of Bolton’s comments focus on the implied symbolism of Obama’s stance on the ICC, however: will America look weak for readily embracing a Court which many, including American politicians, find to be sub-par at best? I think as long as the issue remains in political gridlock–even if our president is an ICC proponent–America will be seen as strong for maintaining high standards and not being naively accepting of the Court.

  2. mauricegreen717 November 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    First and foremost, I think we will begin to see a little more direct action on several ranging topics from President Obama. Without constraints of re-election, the President will have more leeway to directly voice concerns and politically achieve them. Naturally, one perceived barrier Obama would face is a strong opposition from the right-wing faction. This is, as aforementioned, in sync with Birdsall’s line of argument. However, with the comments from Romney about the ICC, I think a new leaf of bipartisanism (on this issue specifically) will surface.

    Just recently Bolton described the ICC as” one of the world’s most illegitimate multilateral institutions.” Now, however, Romney has streamlined the proverbial justice responsibility from the United States, and, instead, placed it in the very institution that his party once overtly denounced. This small comment on the ICC, in my opinion, represents a dramatic shift in rightist opinions and forecasts a new future from the ICC and the United States as one of its state parties.

%d bloggers like this: