UN Criminal Court Threatens U.S. Soldiers In Fight Against Terrorism

February 26, 2002

By Tom DeWeese

U.S. soldiers and pilots are risking their lives fighting the terrorists who killed almost 5,000 innocent Americans on September 11th. They have been using massive firepower to rain destruction down on the hide outs of Osama bin Laden and those who help to hide him. Once the evil ones are destroyed in Afghanistan, the war theater will shift to other nations that aid and abet terrorists. Our soldiers are heroes in the tradition of the Doughboys of World War I and the GI’s of World War II, who also sought to vanquish evil from the face of the earth.

However, when our conquering heroes come home, rather than victory parades, they may face criminal prosecution. And they may find themselves tried for war crimes by judges from the very countries they just defeated. Such is the reality of the United Nation’s International Criminal Court (ICC).

UN propaganda sells the vision of the ICC as a tool for bringing international criminals like bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Qadhafi to justice. The truth is, the court is more likely to be used as a tool for those criminals, against the United States. In a letter to President Bush, Senator Jesse Helms said, “instead of helping the United States go after real war criminals and terrorists, the International Criminal Court has the unbridled power to intimidate our military people and other citizens with bogus, politicized prosecutions. Similar creations of the United Nations have shown this to be inevitable.”

Unlike any other treaty in history, the UN International Criminal Court ignores national laws and declares jurisdiction over all nations, whether they have ratified it or not. Once 60 nations sign on, the ICC becomes international law. The ICC defines as a war crime, any attack by our soldiers with knowledge that inescapable collateral deaths or injuries “to civilians or damage to civilian objects or wide-spread, long-term damage to the natural environment… would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.” In other words, you can have a war, but don’t break anything and don’t hurt civilians or the environment.

It is physically impossible for the military to comply with those restrictions and still achieve its mission. Bombs go awry. Civilians get in the way. Intelligence agents make mistakes and target the wrong buildings. In the early days of the war on terrorism, with little intelligence on the ground, U.S. bombs mistakenly fell into a residential neighborhood and killed civilians. A Cruise missile strayed from its target and may have killed some UN operatives who were working to clear mines. Several civilians were killed in an Afghan village during bombing runs. Are the U.S. soldiers who are responsible for these actions to be prosecuted by the ICC?

Is that what should have happened to the airmen on board the U.S. planes that dropped atomic bombs on Japan in World War II? Keep in mind, those bombs were dropped in order to save thousands of American lives because the United States knew the Japanese were prepared to stand to the last man to ward off an invasion. Civilians were killed, but many more lives were saved by the action. Under the UN’s ICC rules, the Americans would have been treated as the villains, not the Japanese.

Consider too, that the Taliban used innocent civilians as human shields against U.S. bombs. Saddam Hussein used the same tactic in the Gulf War. Under ICC rules, these cowards would get away with such a tactic as a helpless U.S. military would be forced to stand by, waiting for their targets to stand away from women’s skirts.

War is not a video game and it’s not an Olympic event. War is hell. Innocent people die. 5,000 of them were Americans. More will die if the U.S. has its hands tied by the United Nations’ International Criminal Court.

But the International Criminal Court represents even greater threats to American sovereignty and Constitutionally-guaranteed liberties. Unlike the American system of justice, the ICC would not perform trials by juries of peers; would not guarantee bail; and would not grant prisoners the right to face their accusers. The United States judicial system would not be permitted to intervene on behalf of American citizens.

More frightening is the manner in which the UN will choose the eighteen judges who will each serve for nine year terms. They will be elected by a two-thirds vote of the nations which ratify the court. This was the same process used to oust the United States last Spring from its long-held seat on the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The United States would hold one vote against the likes of Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria, the very nations which now protect and even foster terrorists. Will the court elect a judge from Red China, where American rights aren’t just foreign, but represent the enemy? It doesn’t take a genius to see the direction the UN’s court will take when American soldiers stand on trial.

There is one more important point that must not be overlooked concerning the overwhelming power that the ICC will hold. The Court can prosecute anyone who violates UN treaties, including environmental agreements like the Biodiversity Treaty and those covering World Heritage Sites. This one provision makes the ICC a direct threat to ALL American citizens. Case in point was the Crown Butte Gold Mine that was shut down by UN intervention in 1997. Crown Butte was located on private property, miles from Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone was designated by the UN to be a World Heritage Site. The UN determined that the mine was a direct threat to Yellowstone and declared it the first ever “endangered” World Heritage Site. Had there been an International Criminal Court in place, there is little doubt that the Crown Butte owners would have been put on trial for violating a UN treaty.

The UN needs only twenty-two more nations to ratify the Court in order for it to become international law. Senator Helms is leading the fight to keep America out of it. Calling it the “International Kangaroo Court,” last year, Helms introduced the American Service Members’ Protection Act (S.857) to exempt American soldiers and leaders from ICC prosecution. Congress has refused to act on the bill. Last month, in the wake of the terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan, Helms tried to attach the bill to the Defense Authorization Act, but the Senate failed to act on the amendment.

Senator Helms’ bill would: prohibit use of taxpayer funding for the ICC; prohibit the sharing of classified information; restrict the U.S. role in UN peacekeeping missions unless the UN specifically exempts U.S. troops from prosecution; blocks U.S. aid to allies unless they too sign accords to shield U.S. troops on their soil from ICC prosecution; and authorizes any necessary actions to free U.S. soldiers improperly handed over to the ICC. President Bush has endorsed S.857. It’s even being supported by the State Department. Yet the U.S. Senate, led by Majority Leader Tom Daschle, has refused to enact the bill and protect American soldiers as they fight the war on terrorism. Instead, they cater to the United Nations.

Terrorists have murdered our people and disrupted our lives. They’ve forced us to put soldiers in our airports and around bridges. We have military planes guarding our borders and air space. We’re afraid to use our mail system. We are being frightened into surrendering our liberties in exchange for security. Their hatred of America’s freedoms is forcing us to live in fear. For their violence against us, they deserve to die.

This is not the time for muddle-headed international bureaucrats to call for debates and resolutions. It’s not the time to allow those with an anti-American agenda to stop us from freeing ourselves from the terrorist threat. This is not the time to encumber our soldiers as they try to rid the world of these murderers. This is not the time to pretend that the United Nations has any relevance in the drive for peace, justice and security. This is the time for America to stand for its own self interest, to declare its sovereignty and to reject any initiative that tries to block our way.

The UN’s International Criminal Court is a dangerous and powerful tool for those who seek to weaken the independence of the United States. Senator Daschle and the rest of Congress have a duty to protect the U.S. Constitution from attack by the UN’s ICC. It must be rejected by the U.S. at all costs. Senator Helms’ American Service Members Protection Act is a major step in the right direction. Once the United States refuses to participate, the ICC will prove to be another useless UN folly.

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.