With every passing day, the physique of proof that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine grows. It’s clear the invasion has concerned acts of brutality and outright homicide that aren’t solely immoral however unlawful. The query, then, is what the civilized world goes to do about it.
The Biden administration’s answer appears to be that the US ought to reverse its longstanding coverage of opposition to the Worldwide Legal Courtroom in The Hague and let it take up the duty of holding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime accountable. That might be a mistake: American coverage has rightly held the ICC to be a typical instance of a global group that’s fatally tainted by anti-American and anti-Israel bias. Since its inception, it has been painfully apparent that the ICC can’t be trusted to hold out any authorized job pretty.
President Joe Biden’s anger about Russian depredations in Ukraine is shared by most Individuals. However we mustn’t enable that anger to dictate a coverage that’s opposite to American pursuits. Given its historical past, it’s inevitable that the ICC will use any US cooperation as a inexperienced mild to have interaction in arbitrary prosecutions of Individuals and proceed the worldwide neighborhood’s hateful marketing campaign of delegitimization in opposition to Israel.
It ought to be equally clear that the administration’s curiosity in empowering the ICC has extra to do with the Democratic Get together’s irresponsible infatuation with multilateralism and world bodies like the United Nations than indignation about Russian misbehavior.
Russia is a nuclear energy; it’s inconceivable it might undergo the type of full defeat that allowed worldwide tribunals run by the victors to impose justice on the felony regimes of Germany and Japan after World Conflict II. Neither is it prone to find yourself within the place Serbia discovered itself on the finish of the Nineteen Nineties Balkan wars when it was pressured to let its former leaders in addition to Bosnian Serbs be tried in The Hague for his or her warfare crimes. Nonetheless, we should make some effort to deliver Russian warfare criminals to justice. However the ICC is run by the identical type of biased bureaucrats that make up the United Nations.
The ICC’s ongoing attempt to prosecute Israel for defending its borders in opposition to Palestinian terrorists dedicated to the Jewish state’s destruction is akin to making an attempt Ukrainians for defending themselves in opposition to Russia. The court docket’s actions are a symptom of the hate for the West and its democratic values that characterize a global human-rights neighborhood that has no enterprise being tasked with defending those self same concepts.
It’s for that good cause that Congress handed legal guidelines prohibiting the US authorities from funding or cooperating with the ICC. If given free rein as Biden and the Democrats appear to need, we’d be way more prone to see Individuals placed on trial for alleged crimes dedicated in Center Jap conflicts than Russians for what they’ve carried out in Ukraine.
Underneath former chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the ICC opened up an investigation of alleged US warfare crimes in Afghanistan. It handled the efforts of Individuals and different NATO forces to defend the folks of that nation in opposition to the Taliban as morally equal to the atrocities dedicated by their Islamist foes. It was solely President Donald Trump’s denunciation of the transfer and his imposition of sanctions on ICC personnel for his or her anti-American efforts, in addition to their makes an attempt to assault and stigmatize Israel, that bought the court docket to again down and drop the probe.
In his first months in workplace, Biden dropped the sanctions on the ICC — and Bensouda’s successor has restarted its Afghanistan investigation. Now Biden is signaling that he stays resolved to strengthen multilateral establishments as an ideological crucial whatever the injury to US pursuits.
What the world wants is to switch the ICC and the United Nations, not additional empower them. Solely our bodies which might be managed by democracies — and never a membership of tyrannies and authoritarian states that haven’t any enterprise judging or exercising authority over free nations — can deal justly with the Ukraine disaster.
One can share the outrage about Russia with out shopping for into the shortsighted and multilateralist impulse to empower the ICC. Doing so weakens the US and endangers Israel. If Biden heads down this street, it’s going to do little to harm Russian criminals and far to wreck the West.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS.org.