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(E) Washington Times, Gotovina- ICC by Jeffrey Kuhner
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  05/12/2002 | Politics | Unrated
(E) Washington Times, Gotovina- ICC by Jeffrey Kuhner

A win for American democracy
Jeffrey T. Kuhner

 The Bush administration's decision this week to renounce the treaty creating the International Criminal Court (ICC)is a victory for U.S.sovereignty, sending a message to the rest of the world that Washington will protect its citizens and defend its national interests despite international pressure to do otherwise. The ICC treaty has been ratified by 66 nations and will come into effect on July 1. The ICC is designed to serve as a court of last resort toinvestigate war crimes and human rights violations in areas of the globe
where national authorities either cannot or refuse to do so. ICC proponents
claim that the court follows the precedent set by the Nuremberg trial held
after World War II and is a major step toward constructing a system of
international humanitarian law. President Bush's decision has revived 
criticisms that the United States has once again embraced a unilateralist foreign policy and rejected itsinternational commitments. Human rights groups and European governments
insist that the administration's repudiation of the ICC treaty signals a
lack of support for prosecuting crimes against humanity. This is false. 
As Mr. Bush stated in a recent letter to Yugoslav President Vojislav
Kostunica, the United States continues to demand that Belgrade cooperate
with the United Nations war crimes tribunal that is investigating atrocities
committed during the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The 
problem with the ICC, however, is that its mandate is open-ended. The court is not
accountable to anyone but an elite class of international bureaucrats. 
The ICC represents a serious threat to U.S. national interests because
like all international bodies it could be used by critics of American
foreign policy as a tool to prosecute U.S. servicemen, military officials,
statesmen and even presidents for alleged crimes against humanity. By
ratifying the ICC treaty, the Bush administration would be granting an
international court in The Hague jurisdiction over American citizens. Such a
move would not only violate the Constitution, but more ominously, could
imperil the ability of future administrations to conduct military 
operations and troop deployments overseas. Ironically, then-President Bill 
Clinton signed the treaty in December 2000, and remains a strong supporter of the ICC. Yet, had the court beenestablished while he was in office, Mr. Clinton most likely would have been one of its first defendants: He could have been prosecuted by an
anti-American leftist on trumped-up charges of having ordered war crimes. 
If this sounds far-fetched, it isn't. That the ICC is likely to be 
politicized and hostile to the United
States is illustrated by the current U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Considerable media attention has focused on the trial of former Serb
strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who is accused of having masterminded ethnic
cleansing campaigns in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Yet an
overlooked but far more consequential case is that of Croatian Gen. Ante
Gotovina. The case reveals the danger to U.S. interests by international 
war crimes bodies. Gen. Gotovina was indicted in June 2001 by the 
prosecutor's office at The Hague on charges that he exercised "command responsibility" over a 1995military operation that resulted in the expulsion of 150,000 ethnic Serbs
from Croatia. Supported by the Clinton administration, Croatian forces
launched a three-day massive military offensive - known as "Operation 
- on Aug. 5, 1995, in which Croatia recovered territories occupied by rebel
Serbs following the country's drive for independence from Yugoslavia in
1991. Gen. Gotovina is not accused of committing or ordering war crimes, but
simply of being in charge when atrocities were committed. By this 
standard, America is also guilty. The United States provided
military and technical assistance to Operation Storm in order to deliver a
decisive defeat to Milosevic's genocidal goal of forging an ethnically pure
"Greater Serbia." The Clinton administration viewed Croatia's military
campaign as pivotal to tilting the strategic balance of power in the region
against Serb forces, paving the way for the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that
ended the war in neighboring Bosnia. Washington's involvement in the
operation was not only legitimate, but significantly advanced U.S. interests
in the region by putting an end to Serbia's expansionist ambitions. 
Yet American support and approval for the military offensive means the
indictment against Gen. Gotovina could lead to the prosecution by The Hague
tribunal of Mr. Clinton and other high-ranking U.S. officials on charges of
having command responsibility for alleged war crimes that were committed
during the operation. Some in the prosecutor's office now want to call Mr.
Clinton and former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to answer questions about
their role in Operation Storm. It is only a matter of time before the two
men are ordered to testify before the tribunal. As the Gotovina case 
demonstrates, future U.S. presidents are no longer
safe from being called before a war crimes court to answer for actions
committed by America's allies. Therefore, the Bush administration is right
to reject participation in the ICC. Any other decision will jeopardize
Washington's ability to project its power around the globe, and will allow a
transnational elite of U.N. bureaucrats to decide whether the United States
can act as the world's sole policeman. This decision should be made by
American voters, and not left-wing globalists based in The Hague. Score one
for American democracy. 
Jeffrey T. Kuhner, Assistant National Editor
The Washington Times
3600 New York Ave. N.E.,
Washington, D.C. 2002
202-636-3273 -office
202-529-6658 -fax 

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