Victor’s Justice 16


I strongly support the rule of law in international affairs, and it follows that I strongly support international institutions – and particularly the International Criminal Court. I am quite content that a case has been opened against the Gadaffi family there.

But the ICC has become, beyond argument, extraordinarily selective in its choice of which war crimes to prosecute. As I write, a veritable campaign of torture and killing against the Bahraini opposition, including the murder of well known opposition leaders, is continuing and being carried out by the rulers with the assistance of foreign forces. Yet there is no chance of the slightest interest by the ICC. They refused point blank to look into the question of whether Bush and Blair launched an illegal war of aggression, despite the fact that majority opinion among public international lawyers worldwide is that they did. The evidence from the Chilcot enquiry in the UK alone is sufficient to justify a prosecution. A former Director of Public Prosecutions in the UK believes there should be one. The FCO’s Legal Adviser and Deputy Legal Adviser at the time both said in writing that the invasion would be an illegal war of aggression.

The only possible conclusion from ICC case law is that a war of aggression can only be illegal if you lose.

The institution has become an instrument of very partial justice. In Libya, they have been drawn into initiating the victor’s justice before they have actually won. As I predicted, the military attack on Libya is proving vastly more difficult than NATO expected (will they never learn?) The ICC is looking not just corrupt, but foolish.


16 thoughts on “Victor’s Justice

  • craig Post author

    Spectral,

    I am sorry, your opinion is so wildly misinformed I am deleting it as a waste of space.

  • Juha Savolainen

    I agree with you, with one qualification. Namely, that Gaddafis were referred to ICC in UNSC Resolution 1970. Hence ICC are under special pressure to find crimes against humanity, war crimes etc. committed by Gaddafi, his sons and closest collaborators. All this does not invalidate your main point, of course.

    Indeed, as you explained quite early on, the cases of Bahrain and Libya are deeply linked. France is waging war in Libya in a desperate attempt to whitewash its disgraceful collusion with the Arab kleptocrats, especially after the Tunisian debacle, so as to protect its interests. However, despite the lucrative Libyan oil, the real interest of France, U.K. and certainly that of the U.S. is not in Libya, but in the all-important Gulf area. What they are afraid is that the Arab Awakening might topple the corrupt kings and sheikhs of the Gulf and, indeed, the house of Saudi.

    After some confusion, the U.S. evidently found a strategy. If and when Saudis and the GCC, especially Qatar, drive for Arab support for “humanitarian intervention” into Libya, they become, in effect, the “good guys” defending liberty, freedom etc. Then the U.S. can both start bombing Libya and yet ignore the brutal crackdown Saudis and the GCC were initiating in Bahrain – and whatever Machiavellian schemes their allies deem necessary in the area.

    So far, the quid pro quo has worked very well. The “international community” has mostly ignored the brutal repression in Bahrain and many mainstream journalists have focussed their energy and attention on demanding more effective action against the officially sanctioned Enemies, i.e. the Gaddafi regime and whoever is still outside the control the U.S. and its Western allies. Hence the impending ideological disaster has been, at least partly, averted and the faith in the singularly beneficial and liberating mission of the West restored. Pathetic.

  • deepgreenpuddock

    Difficult to avoid that conclusion, or to avoid the realisation that this situation with the ICC simply represents a return to a familiar pattern but on a global scale. I suppose the shocking thing for people of my generation is that we really did believe for a brief moment, that we had managed to put universal constraints on power, but we are now faced with the existentially threatening psychological earthquake of discovering that institutions like the UN and the ICC have simply become the instruments of power, or have been subverted by corruption and realpolitik, and people ‘like us’, people who are actually ‘part’ of us (Tony Blair etc) are part of system that seems so separated from such (naive) ideas of justice as the ICC. Bush and Blair’s defence is in effect more or less the same as that of Kings prior to Charles the 1st. We seem to be repeating the same arguments in a new context, that of elected tyranny, rather than inherited tyranny.
    It is a hard lesson because its meaning is, in effect, that power trumps all and there is no ‘hiding’ place.

    What I also notice is that a very large percentage of the ‘good’, the easygoing people,who place kindness above all, who recognise their own limitations and do not aspire to great importance, have mostly become victims of those who are prepared to wield power, regardless of the absence in them of any moral understanding of its effects, and in most cases in the absence of any idea of their own deficiencies. It is the triumph of a fiendishly bogus technocracy.

    I haven’t any doubt that there is a major ‘crisis’ not far away but I have no idea what the nature of the crisis will be, except that is most likely to be from some at the moment very unlikely quarter. I know that makes little sense but my feeling is that we are in a situation a little like that in 1913. ‘Unrealities’ like the DSK and Assange affairs proliferate and finally coalesce in some unlikely place like Sarajevo or Greenland or Brazil or………

    As a point of interest, I think the DSK affair follows that of the 9/11 situation, (a conspiracy to exploit an event). It probably isn’t a full-on conspiracy but one has to ask what would have happened if it had been someone like Tony Blair or George Bush who committed some indiscretion. Of course there would been no scandal, or a very ‘little’ one, barely meriting a police investigation and certainly not a walk of shame.
    If she was smart, the cleaning lady would have moved quietly, months later into a modest but pleasant apartment in (say) Brooklyn -with a pension of some sort that allowed her to live decently, and very very quietly, or if the hysterical type, she would have moved permanently to a basement ‘apartment’ under some thick concrete, or if stupid, she would be brusquely silenced, get nothing, and the status quo would prevail, in other words-the incident is exploited.
    DSK had his protection withdrawn. That itself is shocking in some way, and interpreting it is very difficult.

    Another possible explanation is that the cleaning lady was in fact rather quietly wordly, and having found herself propositioned, realised that the importance of the person would allow her to leverage the situation into a highly beneficial situation. After all kiss and tell stories are not exactly unknown and are often lucrative.
    at the end of the day it will probably become one of those things that is celebrated in the arts,(surely someone will try to encapsulate such a story into some narrative form-film or fiction or drama),and will enter the mythology of history.
    I think we must expect some seriously good literature to eventually emerge from the current maelstrom of events. (I expect the second coming of Shakespeare soon-does that make me a literary fundie).
    By the way, Saturday is the day of Judgement, so look out for the risen dead.
    (google in 21st may 2011 Judgement day if you don’t believe me).

  • Tom Welsh

    Deepgreenpuddock, I sympathise with your hopes for universal justice and fairness. I used to feel the same. Then my eyes were opened – oddly enough, by reading a book called “Normal Accidents” by Charles Perrow, an American professor of sociology. To my huge surprise, Perrow does a very penetrating analysis of major accidents such as nuclear power plant failures and the Bhopal chemical plant disaster. One of his conclusions is that all serious accidents happen largely because the human element has been neglected. Engineers carefully specify plans, failsafe systems, quality of steel and concrete, etc. But they can’t specify the quality of the human beings who operate it all! Right at the top, making all the big decisions, you often have people who think about little except money (and, when you get high enough up, power too). So they slash budgets, cut training, retire experienced staff, postpone maintenance and replacement of worn-out parts…

    Much the same happens in politics. You can specify all the constitutions and institutions you want, but they won’t be any better than the people who operate them. A law to make police criminally liable for harm they do? It’s a dead letter if the DPP decides it’s “not in the public interest” to prosecure. A provision in the US constitution that allows Congress to impeach a President who acts illegally? No good if the Congress simply decides to pass.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    I knew that you would comment on this Craig.

    My shortlist for the ICC is as follows:-

    1. Henry Kissinger ( direct involvement in illegal and genocidal bombings in places such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. A host of crimes against humaninty, inclusive of the use of toxic chemicals, napalm and sprayed deforestation exercises effected upon the lands of the Vietnamese and other Asiatic peoples. His crimes formed an integral part of the loss of some 500,000 lives during the Vietnam War, not counting the some 60,000 American service persons who died -and further – not including the psychological, non-death physcial, environmetal and other long-term harm inflicted during and after the Vietnam War).
    2. George Bush Jr. ( some 1m deaths in Iraq in a illegal war of occupation that continues to this day)

    3. Tony Blair ( junior partner to George Bush Jr. and partner in crimes against humanity inflicted on the Iraqi people).

    When the ICC starts to address these kinds of matters, I will begin to have some confidence in their justice. Until then, it remains as you say ” Victor’s justice”. Only problem is that the US did not win the Vietnam war – and still there is no justice!

  • KingofWelshNoir

    As with so many such deep political events, the question has to be, why now? Colonel Gaddafi hasn’t suddenly become worse. Not that long ago we were told he had come in from the cold and Tony Blair flew off to the desert to kiss him. Of course, we knew that was nonsense and doubtless connected to oil deals, but nonsense or not it was the official position. Since then he has done nothing to become a pariah again, apart from having a popular uprising take place in his country and threaten a massacre which never took place. So why issue a warrant for him now? The answer is, presumably, to whip up popular sentiment against him and thus justify the NATO war to unseat him.

  • kingfelix

    Such good comments!

    “Another possible explanation is that the cleaning lady was in fact rather quietly wordly, and having found herself propositioned, realised that the importance of the person would allow her to leverage the situation into a highly beneficial situation. After all kiss and tell stories are not exactly unknown and are often lucrative.”

    This does not fit with the reaction of DSK, who quickly left the hotel and attempted to return to France. Looks more like he knew it was game over.

    You are the first person I’ve seen drawn a parallel with the Assange case. Rather like the co-opting of women’s rights as a reason to remain in Afghanistan, these ‘sex scandals’ are great, as they place those with liberal opinions on ‘the wrong side’ of any debate. And the secondary pay-off for the broadsheets is the line of outraged female columnists, free to post inductive arguments about how the behaviour of Ken Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger and DSK have this week revealed that every man on the planet is a philandering misogynist rapist.

  • LeeJ

    Not being a legal expert- is there not a precedent set whereby Gaddaffi’s defence would be to compare any of his indictments to the documented crimes of Blair, etc? If I am guilty, then they are guilty. If they are not guilty, then I am not guilty.

    LeeJ

  • Mark Metcalfe

    The way the ICC is set up and the remit it has means that it has only ever prosecuted Africans.

    The USA, of course, doesn’t accept its jurisdiction and in the case of the referral of Libya to the ICC, the USA refused to let the referral go ahead without giving itself immunity from prosecution.

    This immunity extends to Qatar is also not a party to the Rome statue.

    More on:

    http://wp.me/p1w0fz-4v

  • LeeJ

    Thanks for that Mark. The fact that the US insists on immunity rather points to their guilt, does it not? Its astonishing how the general public still do not view US foreign policy for what it is after decades of the same thing.

  • mark_golding

    I (COIA) supported Rose Gentle, the mother of a British soldier killed in Iraq in her submission to the ICC that the Iraq war was illegal. In their reply the ICC stated it had no mandate in law to judge the legality of war.

    British lawyers have tried to finalise a provision that no prosecution can be launched without the permission of the UN Security Council – giving the UK, as a permanent member of the council, an effective veto.

    America of course does not recognise the ICC and President Bush was indeed hostile to the court enacting Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIAs) excluding its citizens and military personnel from the jurisdiction of the Court.

    In typical (and deceptive) fashion President Obama signalled American cooperation with the ICC and then did nothing. The ICC has said the Obama Administration ‘has not announced a comprehensive US policy toward the International Criminal Court.’ The court also said, ‘several actions and statements by the Obama Administration that indicate elements of such a policy are unclear.

    I cannot stress the important of these statements (and others relating to torture, treatment of whistle-blowers, imprisonment without trial and Palestine) in judging the forward policies of America led by Barack Obama, a straw-man full of hot-air.

  • mark_golding

    I thought it prudent to give you the latest outcome of the recently concluded ICC conference from the mouth of Harold Hongju Koh Legal Advisor U.S. Department of State, endorsed by Stephen J. Rapp Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and President Obama’s representative:

    The court cannot exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression without a further decision to take place sometime after January 1st, 2017. The prosecutor cannot charge nationals of non-state parties, including U.S. nationals, with a crime of aggression. No U.S. national can be prosecuted for aggression so long as the U.S. remains a non-state party. And if we were to become a state party, we’d still have the option to opt out from having our nationals prosecuted for aggression. So we ensure total protection for our Armed Forces and other U.S. nationals going forward.

    Prime-minister Cameron has vowed to protect Blair from prosecution under pressure from Baroness Symons the arch-angel of Iraqi oil.

    My thanks to BlackQueenLara (Lara Victore) for pointing this out to me. Fucking hydrocarbons override justice for a rich monster responsible for the massacre, mortification and acute depression of thousands of innocent Iraqi kids. Putrid UK politics I say.

  • Björn Blomberg

    Today Swedish public radio interviewed a rebel guy in Libya claiming people in Tripoli have been so scared by the monster Gaddafi that they do not dare to bury their dead who are consequently hidden in the fridge (!). The reporter made no comment on the credibility of that. On 6 May Vicor Kotsev of Asia Times disputed a claim by Al Jazeera that the Gaddafi regim had been handing out viagra to soldiers so that they could commit rape. The story looks like the one about babies in Kuwait being killed by Iraqi soldiers which was a complete fabrication for propaganda purposes.

    Beyond this propaganda war – and for sure government TV in Libya is running a lot of propaganda too – we know for sure that crimes have been commited by both sides. New York Times´correspondent in Libya was taken prisoner by the government side and they argued about whether they should kill him or not. He says in a war like this you have to be afraid of anyaone carrying a gun. One wonders though why Gaddafi personally should be responsible for everything government soldiers have done whereas the other side has no responsibility for dousens of black people who have been killed by rebels in eastern Libya. They have also published videos of how they kill captured government soldier on the internet.

    Tribal leaders from all over Libya are struggling desperately to negotiate an end to the war. 850 of them met on 5-6 May. They demanded that no one who voluntarily stops fighting against the government should be punnished in any way and that demand was acceptet by the government. Libya needs negotiations and a political settlement, not bombings.

    Several people were wounded when NATO bombed the Libyan authority for fighting corruption. That authority had nothing to do with the war and the attack was clearly against the Geneva convention. But no one in NATO runs any risk of facing court for that attack. Mr Ocampo himself (the boss of ICC) was in 2006 accused by Christian Palme for attempted rape of a journalist from South Africa. Ocampo had taken the keys to her car and redused to hand them back unless she had sex with him. NATO would of course use that story against him if he tried to step out of line.

    Recently the rebels said yes to an invite to come to Moscow for negotiations but then their bosses (NATO) prevented them from going and they said they had been confronted with technical problems. NATO is deliberetely trying to prevent a negotiated settlement of the conflict, its behaviour has nothing to do with protecting civilians or concern for human rights. Libya was targeted because of its independence: For trying to introduce the Gold Dinar as a new African currency, for using its oil wealth to help bring about an African development bank, for putting the toughest conditions in the world on foreign oil companies. But behind the attack was also the wahhabist dictatorship of Qatar who had been arming Islamist extremists in Libya and who of course use their TV channel Al Jazeera to foment violence in Libya and in Syria. The TV stations Beirut-journalist has resigned in protest of the channels propaganda war against Syria and its lack of professionalism in general.

  • Björn Blomberg

    NATO finally allowed the rebels to go to Moscow for talks with foreign minister Lavrov. Russia Today reports in English here: http://rt.com/news/lavrov-meet-libya-palestine/

    Lavrov has already met with a delegation from Tripoli. The Libyan Government said they accept following all UN resolutions on Libya plus a ceasefire provided that rhe rebels also put down their arms and NATO stop bombing.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Juha (1st comment on this thread) , yes, that seems to be the deal, doesn’t it? Shocking and shameful, yet somehow unsurprising.

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