The U.S. Is Correct to Stand Up to the International Criminal Court

Sept. 17 2018

Last week, National Security Adviser John Bolton gave a speech in which he threatened that the U.S would consider taking legal action against officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) should it try to prosecute Americans. It could do the same, he added, if the ICC prosecuted citizens of America’s allies, including—Bolton explicitly stated —Israel. Jeremy Rabkin comments:

Some critics [of the speech] warned that such action would undermine respect for the rule of law around the world—since it threatens targeting actual judges! That is missing the point. As a nonparty to the ICC treaty, the United States has never agreed to submit its nationals to the court. Still less has the United States agreed that third-party states can extradite Americans to this court in The Hague.

It is one thing for national courts to prosecute Americans for offenses committed on their territory. . . . It is something quite different for a court claiming to speak for humanity at large to try Americans without—as we see it—any serious legal ground for such action. . . . Why are the officials of the ICC entitled to a special privileged status? To say that [John] Bolton’s blast against the ICC undermines “respect for the rule of law” implies that any official of any corrupt or tyrannical regime who is locally designated a “judge” must have a claim on our respect. That is not respect for law but for the mystique of the robe. . . .

President Trump has repeatedly complained that most NATO states shirk the costs of military preparedness. That’s a serious problem. But surely it is worse when our partners, lacking the resources to provide military assistance, still want to participate in legal second-guessing of what fighters have done. The European idea seems to be that Americans will do the fighting and Europeans will assist with the judging.

Meanwhile, Angela Merkel boasts that the security of Israel is a fundamental principle of German foreign policy (Staatsraison), but there is no sign that her government will lift a finger to resist ICC prosecution of Israeli soldiers for what officials in the safety of The Hague regard as excessive force in responding to missile attacks. The important thing, as Immanuel Kant says, is to prove one’s good intentions by making no exceptions—which means, in practice, no serious judgments about circumstances and ground-level realities. Bolton’s warning was to the point: states that take the side of the ICC can’t be reliable partners.

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Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Angela Merkel, ICC, International Law, Israel & Zionism, John Bolton, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform