Will Someone Please Tell the Washington Times That Bush and Obama Have Exactly the Same Policy on the ICC and Sudan?

by Julian Ku

Sometimes reporters and their editors get caught up in a narrative, and forget to check facts.  In the case of Obama and Bush, every Obama pronouncement is presumed to represent a reversal of Bush policy. But this is simply not true (see, e.g., the predictable and apparently uncontroversial Obama retention of Bush policies on  “extraordinary rendition” and airstrikes in Pakistan).   And so it goes with this “exclusive report” in The Washington Time, which seems to suggest that President Obama is departing from former President Bush’s policy by approving the implementation of the arrest warrant against Sudan President Omar Bashir.  (The headline reads: “EXCLUSIVE: Obama backs indictment of Sudan leader, Revisits Bush stance on international court.”)

In fact, as this December 2008 NYT article confirms, the Bush Administration has consistently supported ICC action against Sudan, and has been a consistent voice against blocking a deferral of the indictment against Sudan’s President Bashir (unlike China, Russia, France, and Britain).  Now I have reasons to think the Bush Administration was wrong in supporting the arrest warrant, and that Obama is similarly wrong.  But Obama is breaking no new ground here when he is basically sticking with the Bush policy.  Frankly, there is no news here and the Times should either issue a correction or at least withdraw that highly misleading headline. 



3 Responses

  1. From the second page of the Times article:

    “The Obama administration has a more favorable attitude toward the ICC, although it is reviewing whether it should re-sign the treaty and seek Senate ratification.”

    And from OED‘s entry for the verb, revisit:

    1. trans. To revise, reinspect, re-examine. Obs
    2. a. To visit again, to return or come back to (a place, person, etc.). Also fig. (cf. sense 1; always in pa. pple).

    How, except perhaps by an ambiguous and suggestive juxtaposition of components of the headline, has the Times represented a reversal here?

  2. Julian,

    I’m still a lot more interested in what you think about what you think than I am in what you think Obama or his supporters think,  so I’m going to repeat the question that I asked on Ken’s thread on this one. I think it’s a very fair and relevant question, and depending on the answer I might have some follow-ups too…

    Quoteing the mother of all Yoo memos:

    “In both the War Powers Resolution and the Joint Resolution, Congress has recognized the President’s authority to use force in circumstances such as those created by the September 11 incidents. Neither statute, however, can place any limits on the President’s determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make.”



    That one paragraph is the legal foundation of ALL the Bush administration legal arguments concerning presidential powers, and I have a very simple and direct question:

    Do you agree with it or not?

    In the context of how much the Obama administration agrees or not with the policies of the Bush administration, that’s a question that deserves an unambiguous answer.

  3. Julian is wrong. Obama is retaining small-scale temporary rendition capabilities, which has existed for decades, but that is not the same thing as the Bush’s Administration’s usage of extraordinary rendition which is what has generated so much outrage. Does Julian not understand the difference?

    To suggest they have the same policies on the ICC is similarly disingenuous.

    Methinks Julian is indulging the conservative trope of a Liberal media without backing it up with anything of substance.

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