Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Strange Bedfellows

President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, has some new friends: intellectual supporters of George W. Bush. In today's Wall Street Journal, David Rivkin and Lee Casey, tireless advocates for the imperial presidency, argue that the International Criminal Court indictment of al-Bashir is a mistake because it impedes diplomatic solutions to the Darfur crisis. So what is their preferred solution? --

International justice, especially for heads of state, works best after regime change. This was the lesson of the Nuremberg trials, of Saddam Hussein's trial and punishment by a liberated Iraq, and of the 1990s Balkan wars -- where Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was turned over to the U.N.'s ad hoc court in The Hague after he was toppled.

Thus the only way to bring al-Bashir to justice is an invasion. Which won't happen of course, and no diplomatic solution will bring about regime change. So why shouldn't the ICC precommit to ensuring some kind of justice is part of any deal.

The other interesting thing is that Rivkin and Casey go the entire article without mentioning US opposition to the ICC, which was not on the grounds that indictments could impede diplomatic solutions to crises. It was on the grounds that the ICC could indict US citizens, which the Bush administration recast as a scenario where US troops participating in peace-keeping missions could be indicted for war crimes.

One wonders if George Bush now has lawyers looking at whether he or other senior officials might have ICC problems of their own once they are out of office. Hence the emergence of al-Bashir as a useful stick with which to beat the ICC.

No comments: