Today, it was announced that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Muammar Gadhafi and for his two top aids, one of which happens to be his son Seif al-Islam. The charge, crimes against humanity. Of course, this means very little. The ICC has no way of arrest the G-man or his family. Maybe someday the U.N. will hire a police force. In response, Gadhafi just laughed it off and the regime continued to call the court biased only towards African regimes.
In a sense, Gadhafi’s group is right. It is hard to ever imagine the ICC ever persecuting a U.S. president, even if evidence of genocide ever existed. Plus, the ICC can only prosecute “member states.” Meaning, each country has to ratify the treaty in support the court, which the U.S. failed to do under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Currently, the other major “man at large” on the ICC’s arrest warrant list is Omar Al-Bashir, the president of Sudan (after July just Northern Sudan) for ordering massive killings in Darfur. As long as Bashir only travels to safe, ally countries, he will never face arrest and neither will Gadhafi.
It was one thing when the ICC went after leaders who were out of power. Now, the credibility of this well intended organization is very much up in the air. Let’s face it, unless there is an enforcement mechanism, the only arrests the ICC will get of any arrogant, genocidal dictator is if they walk into the Hague and turn themselves in. Finally, why has the ICC not gone after other brutal dictators not in Africa? Why has Bashar al-Assad of Syria not been arrested? Kim Jong Ill also appears to be a good candidate for arrest? Come to think of it China and Russia have some pretty terrible human rights records, why are those cases not on the docket?
My point is that the ICC really loses legitimacy when it cannot arrest leaders and has a fluid view of human rights violations. It does not need to be this way. The World Trade Organization tries economic cases all the time and nations, usually, go to trial and comply. If only the ICC had that type of power. To be sure, all the leaders tried at the U.N. criminal tribunals certainly deserve punishment, but unless there is reform the ICC will always be the biggest joke of all the multilateral forums.
Photo Credit: Daily Nation
Matt Yglesias posted this on his blog earlier today. It gives you a good idea of what the troop levels look like with real numbers:
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer outlines a good point about all the balking on Libya:
Problem is: No one declares war anymore. Since World War II, we’ve been involved in five major wars, and many minor engagements, without ever declaring war. But it’s not just us. No one does. Declarations of war are a relic of a more aristocratic era, a time when, for example, an American secretary of state closed his department’s code-cracking office because “gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” The power to declare war has become, through no fault of anyone, archaic and obsolete. Taken literally, it is as useless as granting Congress the right to regulate horse-and-buggies.
So, he proposes this solution:
First, formalize the recent tradition of resolutions (Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq) authorizing the initiation of war, recognizing them as the functional equivalent of a declaration of war.Second, establish special procedures for operations requiring immediacy and surprise, for example, notification of the House speaker, Senate majority leader and their opposition counterparts, in secret if necessary.Third, in such cases, require retroactive authorization by the full Congress within an agreed period — but without any further congressional involvement (contra the War Powers Resolution). The Constitution’s original grant of power to Congress was for a one-time authorization, with no further congressional constraint on executive war-making except, of course, through the power of the purse.
I think the president gave a pretty strong performance in his Afghanistan speech. He did not stumble, and he projected strong language. Still, his plan was typical Obama. He wants to draw down slowly with an increment of 10,000 troops first and bring the rest of the surge troops home by next July. 2014 will be the final withdrawal date, not surprising because NATO made commitments until 2014, and we are NATO.
In the end, Afghanistan is not a winnable situation. President Hamid Karzai is corrupt, Pakistan is an unreliable ally, it is impossible to eliminate all Al-Qaeda’s presence, and reports show that aid to the country is a failure, with all that the deck is stacked against the administration. Added onto the war weariness (56% of the public wants to leave) and parts of both political factions calling for withdrawal, the president is trapped. The slow withdrawal is just delaying the inevitable. There was a time when the slow decrease in troops was politically the best option, but now it just appears to be a cop out.
Tonight, the president gave the speech everyone thought he would give. The problem, nobody wanted that speech. The dream for both sides was for the president to call for immediate withdrawal of all troops and shift towards a secret counter terrorism strategy, similar to Yemen or Pakistan, than continuing the counter-insurgency strategy, which requires nation building. I’m not even convinced that speech would please the right, who would hate the speech no matter what. It was a night to please no one except himself and for that I say “Mission Accomplished.”
Photo Credit: Globe and Mail