How the U.S. Relationship with ICC is Rooted in Injustice and Corruption

a month ago




"The Great Satan" is a political term historically used to describe the United States. It resurfaced widely on social media on June 5, 2024, in protest against the U.S. House of Representatives passing a bill that allows sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This controversial law imposes sanctions on the ICC if it investigates or prosecutes individuals protected by Washington or its allies.

This move followed ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan’s request for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and War Minister Yoav Gallant on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

The ICC seeking Netanyahu's arrest warrant has incited significant outrage in Western political circles, which often treat “Israel” as their favored ally, especially in the United States.

Arrest Warrants

On May 20, 2024, Khan announced that he had submitted requests to the court for arrest warrants on charges of war crimes and genocide related to the Israeli war in Gaza.

The ICC prosecutor stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and War Minister Yoav Gallant bear responsibility for crimes against humanity in Gaza.

He added that the court’s evidence concluded that Israeli officials systematically deprived Palestinians of basic necessities and that Netanyahu and Gallant were complicit in causing suffering and starvation of civilians in Gaza.

Although neither the United States nor “Israel” are members of the ICC, Khan’s decisions triggered intense anger towards the court's direction.

This is particularly significant as it is the first time the court seeks to impose sanctions and pursue Israeli officials.

Republican lawmakers in Congress quickly vowed to retaliate against the ICC.

Republican Representative Chip Roy of Texas initiated legislation to impose sanctions on ICC members, sending “a strong message of support for Israel and preventing future ICC pursuits of U.S. officials and soldiers.”

The bill passed with a vote of 247 to 155, with nearly all Republicans and some Democrats supporting it.

It is noteworthy that the United States has long played a crucial role in shielding “Israel” from ICC investigations.

In 2020, then ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested to investigate potential war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Washington responded by imposing sanctions on the ICC, including travel bans and asset freezes, to hinder the investigation.

Khan’s decision was not solely directed at Israeli officials; it also included Hamas leaders in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, the general commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Mohammed Deif, and the political bureau chief, Ismail Haniyeh.

Despite equating the occupying aggressor with the resisting party, the U.S. found this unacceptable, reaffirming its imperialistic and condescending view towards Arab and Muslim nations.

The Threats to Karim Khan

Karim Khan’s path to indicting Netanyahu and Gallant was fraught with obstacles, primarily from Washington, which attempted to thwart him through various threats and intimidation tactics.

On May 6, 2024, the British site Zeteo revealed the nature of American violations against the judges of the ICC.

The site published details of a letter from members of Congress threatening to prevent the court from issuing any decision against Israeli Occupation’s genocide in Gaza and its war crimes.

According to Zeteo, 12 Republican members of Congress sent a formal letter to the President of the ICC, threatening severe consequences for him, his family, and his staff if an arrest warrant was issued against Netanyahu, who is accused of being a war criminal.

The letter, signed by extremist lawmakers from the Christian Zionist faction, including Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, was addressed to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan.

The letter claimed that if Khan issued an arrest warrant against Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, it would be interpreted not only as a threat to Israeli sovereignty but also to Washington’s sovereignty, leading to heavy sanctions.

The senators warned, “Target Israel and we will target you,” and threatened to “sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States.” They concluded, “You have been warned.”

It is notable that U.S. President Joe Biden described the ICC’s actions as outrageous. However, his administration stated on June 3 that it strongly opposes the bill imposing sanctions on the court.

Joe Biden’s administration expressed “deep concern” over the ICC Prosecutor’s “reckless rush” to seek arrest warrants against senior Israeli officials.

However, it also opposed imposing sanctions on the ICC, its staff, judges, or those assisting in its work.

Karim Khan had previously said in an interview with CNN that some politicians spoke to him and were very candid, saying this court was built for Africa and butchers like Putin.

He said that “threats or other activities will not deter the ICC prosecutors because, ultimately, they have to fulfill their responsibilities as prosecutors, as men and women in the office, as judges, and as a record for something greater than themselves, which is fidelity to justice.”

Double Standards

Interestingly, before the Israeli war in Gaza, the U.S. administration cooperated with Karim Khan. On December 4, 2023, Intelligence Online reported that for an entire year, President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken led efforts to engage the United States more closely with the ICC.

The French intelligence-focused magazine noted that some view this involvement as a sign of weakening the court, expressing concern over attempts by the world’s most powerful country to influence the ICC's decisions.

For example, in September 2021, three months after taking office, Khan assured that the ICC would deprioritize investigations into crimes committed by the U.S. military and the CIA in Afghanistan and secret prisons in Europe, facilitating U.S. cooperation with the court.

With these investigations effectively halted, Khan appointed American lawyer and prosecutor Brenda Hollis to lead the ICC’s investigation into the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Intelligence Online mentioned that the U.S. has long asserted that the ICC has no jurisdiction over non-member states, as is the case with the U.S.

The U.S. State Department confirmed to Intelligence Online that its stance on Palestine has not changed; the United States has long maintained that the ICC does not have jurisdiction in this matter.

Washington’s policy towards the ICC revolves around participation without joining and attempting to exert influence when it benefits them.

This principle was articulated by American lawyer and former State Department legal adviser Harold Hongju Koh.

However, what applies to Washington and its allies, especially “Israel,” does not apply to a country like Russia, particularly since the war in Ukraine began.

The White House sought to bypass these jurisdictional limits, allowing the ICC to pursue legal actions against Moscow.

On March 17, 2023, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

A History of Contradictions

The U.S. efforts to indict Putin before the ICC, followed by its subsequent reversal to support and protect “Israel,” are not the first contradictions in Washington’s history with the ICC.

Previously, the U.S. was a staunch supporter of establishing a special tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1993 and another for war crimes in Rwanda in 1994, providing financial and political support and helping gather evidence to hold perpetrators accountable.

The ICC was officially established in 2002 under the Rome Statute signed in 1989. However, the U.S. notably refrained from ratifying the statute due to concerns about potential prosecutions of American forces.

The first significant U.S. support for the ICC’s new format came with the prosecution of leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda in 2004. In 2013, Washington offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Ugandan Joseph Kony, wanted by the ICC for war crimes.

The U.S. also welcomed the ICC’s 2009 arrest warrant for former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and other Sudanese officials on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

This history was shattered when the ICC decided to prosecute Israeli leaders involved in one of the worst massacres of the century in Gaza. The move to impose sanctions on ICC officials in response to the prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defense minister was seen as an attempt by U.S. lawmakers to strong-arm justice.