10 Feb Opposition to the ICC Equals Condoning Genocide?
Samantha Power, a tireless Pulitzer-Prize-winning advocate of more aggressive action by the United States to stop genocide and war crimes, offers her take on why the ICC would be more effective than an ad hoc tribunal (a topic we’ve been batting about here) in today’s NYT. Count me as a skeptic of her claim that the ICC will deter war crimes appreciably more than an ad hoc tribunal, but then again, unlike Power, I haven’t spent years reporting on conflicts in Bosnia, Rwanda, and now Sudan. But the most interesting aspect of her article is Power’s obvious contempt for the Bush Administration, which undercuts her otherwise very persuasive piece.
In a very unfair (but effective) phrase, she accuses the Bush Administration of not being able to decide whether it dislikes “genocide” more than the ICC. This is unfair because she is equating opposition to the ICC with condoning genocide. The ICC may be great, but surely Power must concede there are some reasonable objections to the ICC and that one can still want to prosecute genocide while still opposing the ICC, even in Darfur.
Power also notes that the ICC has not “begun investigating the torture and murder carried out by American soldiers and contractors in Iraq or Guantanamo Bay” as an argument that the ICC doesn’t threaten the U.S. The missing word here: “alleged.” Like many in the human rights community, she takes as a given that U.S. policy in Guantanamo Bay has consisted of torture and abuse, but I think, at least with respect to Guantanamo Bay, that cannot be so lightly assumed just yet. The info trickling out of Gitmo has come from allegations in lawsuits that have not yet been confirmed, and from some info from FOIA requests that are piecemeal and incomplete. But Power’s attitude that such allegations are enough for her to conclude that crimes of torture and abuse rising to the level of the ICC’s consideration is more evidence of how quickly she will is willing to assume the worst of motives and intentions of this Administration.
In doing so, Power is playing to her audience of elite opinion and Bush-haters, but she is not convincing anyone else.