PJ Media

An All-for-Show Trial: The ICC "Acts" on Darfur

This week the International Criminal Court decided to indict individuals “who can be sacrificed by the Sudanese government, but who at the same time have a significant degree of culpability” for the ongoing Darfur massacre. For a group of supposedly smart Europeans, they forgot one of the basic tenets of game theory. In a two-player matchup, the opponent gets to make a countermove.

The ICC, which has been described by its admirers as the “court of the future” never had any expectation of physically taking custody of its suspects. Outside of the heady realms of The Hague, the “Court of the Future” only possesses power that is ceded to it. It has none of its own. Following the “indictments,” Sudan — a sovereign nation with a lot of arms and a nasty habit of using them on all comers– promptly indicated that it would not extradite the named suspects to the Hague. In this Sudan stood with Stalin who might have asked in the same situation, “How many Janjaweed divisions does the ICC have?”

The ICC itself would never be so foolish or brave as to actually risk travelling to Darfur to lay out its plan for justice. If they did so, open derision might easily turn to mass assassination, and the ICC has no stomach for suffering street justice in the genocidal regions of the globe.

This reality “worries some international human rights legal scholars, who say the evidence should be gathered from the site of the war crimes themselves.” In this they fool themselves as to the objective of the ICC. It is not now and never was in Darfur. The principal target of the ICC’s campaign against Darfur is not stop the genocide but to bring the United States to heel.

This blustering judicial maneuver may have been set up to see if the ICC could get the United States to cede it some power over the United States for future war crimes charges to be brought against, not the Sudanese, but US citizens.

Advocates of international law noted that “the US position [to allow Darfur investigations to go forward] is a turning point institutionally,” according to Diane Orentlicher of American University’s Washington College of Law, “since it reflects a willingness of the US to accept the jurisdiction of the court.” In short, the ICC is not out to get killers in Darfur, but compliance from the United States.

Whether or not the ICC ever pulled a single genocidal criminal from Darfur into their courtrooms was no big deal as long as they could get a grip on the American Constitution. This blustering judicial maneuver was set up to see if the ICC could get the United States to cede it some power over the United States for future war crimes charges to be brought against, not the Sudanese, but US citizens.

Still, the ICC advocates claimed it was all worthwhile. “War crimes experts argue that international courts such as the Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals eventually proved to build moral and strategic arguments against those charged, which eventually limited their ill-doings and provided a basis for rebuilding the society.”

That sounds noble and even admirable, but what if the ICC’s actions led to genocide suspects being promoted into positions where they could do greater harm to their victims? This is not a hypothetical proposition. It is exactly what has happened.

As Megan Rowling at Reuters writes, the whole sequence should have been set to the music of Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill album whose refrain, “Isn’t It Ironic?,” best describes the situation that has now developed.

One of the ICC’s named suspects, Sudanese former Minister of the Interior Ahmed Haroun has been named “State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs.” Haroun may have been promoted precisely to put him in a position of such importance he cannnot now be “sacrificed” to the ICC. Moreover, now all the NGOs can talk to him in person as they coordinate aid deliveries with him.

“That a man suspected of a key role in orchestrating crimes against humanity in Darfur is now the man deciding who will be allowed to do what to alleviate the resulting suffering is the height of cynicism.

“Not only will a man accused of war crimes by one of the world’s top courts likely remain in charge of the fate of the people whose lives he is alleged to have made a misery. To make matters worse, Sudan expert Eric Reeves told Inter Press Service he’s concerned the ICC’s move could provoke “increased hostility and recklessness on the part of the regime, especially toward international humanitarian agencies” active in Darfur.”

Never mind, the ICC still has its jurisdictional “victory” over America. As Morisette sang in her album: “Who would have thought?– it figures.””>decided to indict individuals “who can be sacrificed by the Sudanese government, but who at the same time have a significant degree of culpability” for the ongoing Darfur massacre. For a group of supposedly smart Europeans, they forgot one of the basic tenets of game theory. In a two-player matchup, the opponent gets to make a countermove.

The ICC, which has been described by its admirers as the “court of the future” never had any expectation of physically taking custody of its suspects. Outside of the heady realms of The Hague, the “Court of the Future” only possesses power that is ceded to it. It has none of its own. Following the “indictments,” Sudan — a sovereign nation with a lot of arms and a nasty habit of using them on all comers– promptly indicated that it would not extradite the named suspects to the Hague. In this Sudan stood with Stalin who might have asked in the same situation, “How many Janjaweed divisions does the ICC have?”

The ICC itself would never be so foolish or brave as to actually risk travelling to Darfur to lay out its plan for justice. If they did so, open derision might easily turn to mass assassination, and the ICC has no stomach for suffering street justice in the genocidal regions of the globe.

This reality “worries some international human rights legal scholars, who say the evidence should be gathered from the site of the war crimes themselves.” In this they fool themselves as to the objective of the ICC. It is not now and never was in Darfur. The principal target of the ICC’s campaign against Darfur is not stop the genocide but to bring the United States to heel.

This blustering judicial maneuver may have been set up to see if the ICC could get the United States to cede it some power over the United States for future war crimes charges to be brought against, not the Sudanese, but US citizens.

Advocates of international law noted that “the US position [to allow Darfur investigations to go forward] is a turning point institutionally,” according to Diane Orentlicher of American University’s Washington College of Law, “since it reflects a willingness of the US to accept the jurisdiction of the court.” In short, the ICC is not out to get killers in Darfur, but compliance from the United States.

Whether or not the ICC ever pulled a single genocidal criminal from Darfur into their courtrooms was no big deal as long as they could get a grip on the American Constitution. This blustering judicial maneuver was set up to see if the ICC could get the United States to cede it some power over the United States for future war crimes charges to be brought against, not the Sudanese, but US citizens.

Still, the ICC advocates claimed it was all worthwhile. “War crimes experts argue that international courts such as the Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals eventually proved to build moral and strategic arguments against those charged, which eventually limited their ill-doings and provided a basis for rebuilding the society.”

That sounds noble and even admirable, but what if the ICC’s actions led to genocide suspects being promoted into positions where they could do greater harm to their victims? This is not a hypothetical proposition. It is exactly what has happened.

As Megan Rowling at Reuters writes, the whole sequence should have been set to the music of Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill album whose refrain, “Isn’t It Ironic?,” best describes the situation that has now developed.

One of the ICC’s named suspects, Sudanese former Minister of the Interior Ahmed Haroun has been named “State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs.” Haroun may have been promoted precisely to put him in a position of such importance he cannnot now be “sacrificed” to the ICC. Moreover, now all the NGOs can talk to him in person as they coordinate aid deliveries with him.

Haroun may have been promoted precisely to put him in a position of such importance he cannnot now be “sacrificed” to the ICC. Moreover, now all the NGOs can talk to him in person as they coordinate aid deliveries with him.

“That a man suspected of a key role in orchestrating crimes against humanity in Darfur is now the man deciding who will be allowed to do what to alleviate the resulting suffering is the height of cynicism.”

Not only will a man accused of war crimes by one of the world’s top courts likely remain in charge of the fate of the people whose lives he is alleged to have made a misery. To make matters worse, Sudan expert Eric Reeves told Inter Press Service he’s concerned the ICC’s move could provoke “increased hostility and recklessness on the part of the regime, especially toward international humanitarian agencies” active in Darfur.

Never mind, the ICC still has its jurisdictional “victory” over America. As Morisette sang in her album: “Who would have thought?– it figures.”