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Monday, June 21, 2004

Can the International Criminal Court Prosecute American Military Personnel for Alleged War Crimes?

Once again the forces of liberal-socialism attempt to highjack our Constitution and our laws.  What’s going on?  Are we obliged to obtain UN Security Council approval for military actions?  Do the UN Human Rights Charter and the articles of the International Criminal Court outrank our own laws?

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A June 18th New York Times article states:

” Secretary General Kofi Annan harshly criticized the United States on Thursday for seeking immunity for its peacekeeping troops from the International Criminal Court.

He said the Security Council should resist the American move, which he said was “of dubious judicial value” and particularly deplorable this year “given the prisoner abuse in Iraq.”

“I think in this circumstance it would be unwise to press for an exemption, and it would be even more unwise on the part of the Security Council to grant it,” Mr. Annan told reporters. “It would discredit the Council and the United Nations that stands for rule of law and the primacy of the rule of law.”

The Secretary General’s statement implies that the United States is bound to submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and that our own laws and the Uniform Code of Military Justice regulating our armed forces are subordinate to this tribunal.  The statement also presumes that U.S. action in the conduct of a war, albeit without UN involvement, is subject to approval by the Security Council.

The analysis by Alfred Thayer Mahan (see “Once More: Why are We in Iraq?”) posted below on June 12th provides a substantive refutation of that argument.

Paradoxically, the idea of international law originated in Christian concepts of morality, but is today employed by the UN and liberal-socialists around the world to espouse amoral, secular socialism.

International law had its origin in a work called “On the Law of War and Peace,” written in 1625 by a Dutch jurist named Hugo Grotius.  At that time, Europe was in the first decade of the Thirty Years’ War, one of the most savagely destructive series of military campaigns the world ever has endured.  Almost every nation in Europe was involved, and most of Continental Europe suffered at one time or another between 1618 and the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that ended hostilities.  But the bulk of the fighting was in the principalities of the German Confederation.  Germany was devastated to such a degree that, a century later, many towns had still not fully recovered.  The Thirty Years’ War, by the way, is what Voltaire had in mind in his satirical novel, “Candide.”

Horrified by the unprecedented degree of barbarity exhibited everywhere by mercenary armies roaming freely across the countryside, Grotius proposed that nations, as well as individuals, are subject to the moral principles of natural law.  As everyone understood in those days, natural law was God-given and governed everything and every action in the world.  Grotius based his work on the Bible and classical Greek philosophy, just as St. Thomas Aquinas had done in the early 13th century when he incorporated Aristotle’s concepts into Christian doctrine.

While wars are sometimes necessary and justifiable, Grotius wrote, nations must respect the rights of individuals who are non-combatants.  Aristotle had said that natural law made man a political being, that is, that the civilizing forces of organized political life produced the highest attainments of human beings.  But, most importantly, pursuit of personal morality and civic virtue were the highest good of the individual and of the state.

Thus, said Grotius, nations must conform to the same Christian religious dictates in their international relations.

A century later, in the so-called Age of Enlightenment, French philosophers decapitated civilization by dismissing concepts of religious morality.  Individuals’ and nations’ conduct were to be regulated by the social justice precepts produced by the minds of intellectuals.

Thus, today the UN and its liberal-socialist supporters, no longer bound by Grotius’s Christian moral principles, are free to proclaim any course of action that captures their fancy to be “international law.”