Bush must support ICC

President George W. Bush has opposed the International Criminal Court since his inauguration. He refuses to send the Rome Statute, the treaty that creates the ICC, to the U.S. Senate and pressures other countries into agreements promising not to abide by the ICC. The most recent country to acquiesce was Colombia who, to retain $130 million in aid, agreed never to prosecute Americans for human rights offenses.

When rebels ousted Idi Amin from power, the Saudi Arabian government gave him asylum despite him having murdered more than 300,000 Ugandans. He lived there in luxury for more than 20 years because existing courts lacked authority to execute justice. The Rome Statute creates the International Criminal Court to deal with future atrocities such as those committed by Amin, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.

Why would any government oppose justice for the worst horrors that unlucky genetics and bad parenting can come up with? One administration phobia is that a prosecutor might attempt to try an American for political reasons. However, this is unfounded paranoia. The court’s jurisdiction extends only to criminals with the worst human rights abuses. Furthermore, it has safeguards to prevent abuses, including rules that closely follow the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice and guaranteed involvement from the defendant’s country.

Bush’s larger reason is he feels the United States should answer to no one. Isolationist policy is nothing new to the Bush camp. He opposed the Kyoto Protocol, Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention. Repeatedly, Bush tells the world: “My way or the highway.”

The United States is the only democratic country that has not ratified the Rome Statute. The administration preaches democracy while refusing to submit to international democratic institutions. Today, we live in an interconnected world. Bush’s position is akin to California and New York deciding to succeed from the Union unless everyone agrees to do whatever they say. The hypocrisy, shortsightedness and obstinacy must end: Bush must reverse his position, send the Rome Statute to the Senate and encourage them to ratify it.