The US will fight back using any means necessary if the International Criminal Court ever dares to probe an American or Israeli, and will punish those who cooperates with war-crime investigations, John Bolton is set to announce.
“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is expected to say, according to a draft speech seen by Reuters. “We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”
The vigorous speech, titled ‘Protecting American Constitutionalism and Sovereignty from International Threats,’ according to The Hill, was delivered to a conservative group in Washington on Monday. (We will update this article and include the speech as soon as it is available)
The Trump administration will retaliate if the ICC proceeds with a formal investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan.
The ICC is considering an official probe after it received 1.17 million allegations from Afghan citizens of atrocities at the hands of the Taliban, local security forces and warlords, as well as the US-led coalition.
In addition, Bolton vowed to protect all American allies from similar probes – in particular Israel, which is being accused of perpetrating war crimes against Palestinian civilians. “The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,”says Bolton’s draft text.
The potential US sanctions against judges, prosecutors and those who cooperate with such a probe might include banning those individuals from entering the US, freezing their assets, and trying them in American courts.
The United States (as well as Russia) signed but never ratified the 2002 Rome Treaty that established the International Criminal Court.
The body has since been widely criticized as a “political tool,” especially after The Hague-based court failed to examine NATO’s intervention and bombings of Belgrade in the case of the former Yugoslavia, instead only going after former president Slobodan Milosevic.
Nevertheless, the US exerts some influence over the court via European governments, which are dominant in the administration of the ICC. So, even if the ICC were to launch a probe, let alone find US forces guilty of war crimes, it is doubtful that Washington would take any notice of such rulings.
National security adviser John Bolton, a longtime ICC critic, will make the announcement in his first major speech since joining the Trump administration.
The top security official argued the court poses a threat to U.S. sovereignty, is ineffective in prosecuting war crimes and too often targets American allies, such as Israel.
The State Department also plans to shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Washington office over concerns that it’s attempting to trigger an ICC investigation of the Jewish state.
“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” Bolton plans to say. “We will not allow the ICC, or any other organization, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense.”
Palestinian officials said the decision would not affect its plans to pursue an ICC investigation and accused the U.S. of unfairly favoring Israel in stalled efforts to re-start Middle East peace talks.
“We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to U.S. threats and bullying,” Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat said in a statement to news organizations in advance of the speech. “Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes.”
Monday’s speech is the first major public appearance for Bolton, who has played a mostly behind-the-scenes role since becoming President Trump’s national security adviser in April.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
September 10th, 2018