January 3, 2001


In the waning days of his administration, Bill Clinton has left us a legacy that may come back to haunt us in ways we cannot now conceive. On Sunday, the President authorized the signing of a treaty creating a permanent international war crimes tribunal – known as the International Criminal Court (ICC) – under the aegis of the United Nations. Invoking the Nuremberg trials that sentenced Nazi war criminals, and averring that he still has some "reservations" about the treaty, Clinton declared that "Our action today sustains that tradition of moral leadership." The announcement that the US would sign was preceded by an intense push by "human rights" groups such as Amnesty International and "Human Rights Watch": the latter opined that "history will look harshly on President Clinton if he fails to sign," while the former declared that Clinton's signature "will demonstrate US support for the rule of law and for equal justice for all." As if history will be kind to Slick Willie in any event – and as if the freest nation on earth has to something to prove before the assembled collection of Middle Eastern emirs, African presidents-for-life, South American caudillos, and East Asian despots that make up the United Nations.


What was curious about this announcement were the reservations attached to it, coupled with the strange news that, although he was signing it, Clinton was recommending against Dubya submitting the treaty to the Senate for ratification. In a statement, our soon-to-be-ex- President confessed that

"In signing, however, we are not abandoning our concerns about significant flaws in the Treaty. In particular, we are concerned that when the Court comes into existence, it will not only exercise authority over personnel of states that have ratified the Treaty, but also claim jurisdiction over personnel of states that have not. . . .Court jurisdictions over U.S. personnel should come only with US ratification of the Treaty. The United States should have the chance to observe and assess the functioning of the Court, over time, before choosing to become subject to its jurisdiction. Given these concerns, I will not, and do not recommend that my successor, submit the Treaty to the Senate for advice and consent until our fundamental concerns are satisfied."


What exactly are we signing on to? A look at the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), ratified by a conference of UN bureaucrats on July 17, 1998, reveals a blueprint for what is nothing less than the judicial arm of an evolving World State – an international kangaroo court that neither recognizes nor honors the Western principles of jurisprudence. The Rome Statute sets out the rules and regulations governing the ICC, and from the outset it is made quite clear that the Western liberal (in the classical sense) concept of justice has little to do with the model proffered by the architects of the ICC: Part 4, Article 36, section 8 of the Rome Statute sets out the terms of the mandatory multiculturalism that must dictate the composition of the Court:

"The States Parties shall, in the selection of judges, take into account the need, within the membership of the Court, for:

  1. The representation of the principal legal systems of the world;
  2. Equitable geographical representation; and
  3. A fair representation of female and male judges"


The "principal legal systems of the world," if we take the measure of the populations that chafe under their weight, include Islamic law, or Sharia, which provides the legal rationale for a strict theocracy, and the system of gulags and one-party rule imposed on the Chinese people by Mao's heirs. These are to be put on a par with the US Constitution and the Magna Carta, along with the Albanian Code of Lek and, presumably, the prehistoric tribal customs of Australian aborigines. The result is an authoritarian structure decorated with "democratic" pediments and egalitarian flourishes, the perfect product of the nonsense enunciated in the first words of the Preamble:

"The States Parties to this Statute, conscious that all peoples are united by common bonds, their cultures pieced together in a shared heritage, and concerned that this delicate mosaic may be shattered at any time . . ."


But there is no "shared heritage." Liberty cannot be "pieced together" out of the Koran, the Constitution, and the Communist Manifesto (or the Collected Works of Deng Xiaoping): it can only be diluted out of existence altogether, melted into a multicultural hodgepodge. This nutty universalism is sticky with sickly-sweet bromides, and sinister in its simplicity. This "we-are-the-world" "it takes a global village"-ism disguises a super-centralist profoundly alien regime, one that arrogates all power to itself. Part 5, Articles 58 and 59 of the Rome Statute authorize the ICC to seize anyone, anywhere, for any reason: they don't even have to be accused of war crimes – the ICC prosecutor is authorized to put out an arrest warrant "to ensure that the person does not obstruct or endanger the investigation or the court proceedings." Article 59 disposes of the outmoded concept of national sovereignty in its description of the conditions under which those arrested by the authority of the ICC might secure an interim release pending trial:

"In reaching a decision on any such application, the competent authority in the custodial State shall consider whether, given the gravity of the alleged crimes, there are urgent and exceptional circumstances to justify interim release and whether necessary safeguards exist to ensure that the custodial State can fulfill its duty to surrender the person to the Court. It shall not be open to the competent authority of the custodial State to consider whether the warrant of arrest was properly issued in accordance with article 58, paragraph 1 (a) and (b)" [i.e., that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; and that the arrest of the person appears necessary according to the criteria set down by the Rome Statute.]


In the very first Article the architects of the ICC openly proclaim their hegemonic ambition: "The Court," they declare, "shall have international legal personality" – an interesting turn of phrase – and "It shall also have such legal capacity as may be necessary for the exercise of its functions and the fulfillment of its purposes." The French Sun King said it well, and more succinctly: "L'etat, c'est moi." Article 8, section 2(f) brazenly extends the authority of the Court to include civil wars, as well as alleged crimes committed in the course of an international conflict. Aside from this infringement on the very idea of sovereignty, however, what is truly frightening is the specter of a system slated to replace our own legal tradition of constitutionally limited State power: if and when the ICC becomes a reality, the American revolution is repealed.


Article 64, section 7 of the Rome Statute specifically authorizes secret trials in "special circumstances," which include protecting the "right" of "victims" not to undergo "mental harm" as well as the "national security" concerns of member states. Article 68, sections 1-6, also deal with the circumstances in which closed sessions of the Court may be held, evidence may be withheld from the defense, and the world may be kept in the dark as to what exactly is going on in The Hague's International Kangaroo Kourt. Article 72 provides the criteria by which member States may withhold information from being introduced in evidence, but gives the Court the final say – another unsubtle assault on the independence of member nations. Article 81, section 3[c], avers that the accused may be held in detention even if acquitted! In the same spirit, Article 92 introduces a whole new concept of law to Americans unfamiliar with police state methods: the idea of the "provisional arrest"! In other words: arrest them first, and think up some charges later. The only "shared heritage" that the authors of this abominable document have the right to invoke is the legacy of absolutism, the long dark night of Oriental despotism and the divine right of kings, which was overthrown by the great liberal revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – or so we thought.


The idea that the ICC is or can be a legitimate means to brings States to heel and punish the perpetrators of war crimes is a liberal illusion that hides a sinister purpose: the overthrow of our Constitution and the substitution of a globalist oligarchy, whose windy edicts will have the force of law. A subsidiary but more immediately useful purpose will be as an organ of propaganda in the endless wars waged by the Big Powers against the "rogue states" of the future. Article 53, Section 1 [c] makes it clear that some war crimes are more equal than others. Even if the prosecutor determines that a war crime or a "crime against humanity" has indeed been committed, there could well be "substantial reasons to believe an investigation would not serve the interests of justice." In that case, forget it – just as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the precursor to the ICC, ignored all evidence of crimes against Serbs in the recent Balkan wars. In the Rome Statute such willful ignorance is rationalized and codified.


The great fear among the American military, and many conservatives, is that the ICC will indict American soldiers acting under orders as "war criminals" – and, if Seymour Hersh's account of the Gulf War is to be believed, then there is undoubtedly ample basis for this fear. The Rome Statute forbids the use of "starvation" tactics to defeat an enemy, and surely this section applies to the embargo on basic goods to Iraq, which has so far killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, mostly the aged and the very young. By any measure, the relentless US assault on the virtually defenseless people of Iraq amounts to a war crime – but asking the ICC, an agency of the United Nations, which authorized the sanctions to begin with, to condemn that crime is like asking Lucifer to denounce sin. It cannot and will not happen. The real targets of the ICC will be the political pariahs of the moment – whatever local chieftain has the effrontery to defy the will of the globalists and is currently being portrayed as the latest incarnation of Hitler.

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Past Columns

No to the International Kangaroo Court

Know Thy Enemy

The Canonization of Colin Powell

Big Government Invades the Internet

The New Cold War: Who's Afraid of Vladimir Putin?

The Case for Pessimism

The Gore Coup: No Justice, No Peace – No Exit

Bush or Gore: Pick Your War

Gore, Bush, and the Imperial Style

Neo-Nazis and Neocons: An Unholy Alliance

Al Gore – The O.J. Simpson of American Politics

Coup d'Etat 2000 and the Madness of Al Gore

Slobo and Gore: Peas in a Pod

Gore Coup Radicalizes Republicans

The Dimple That Shook the World

Listen Soldier, You Can Stop the Gore Coup

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Al Gore's Beer Hall Putsch

A Message to My Readers

The Real Victors: Nader & Buchanan

Buchanan's "Hail Mary" Pass May Work

Doubletalkin' Dubya: Bush Backtracks on Kosovo

The Nader Moment

The Smearing of Ralph Nader

Nader Sells Out

America's Fifth Column

Bush, the Balkans, and the Bipartisan "Division of Labor"

Hilary, the War Goddess

Vidal's Valediction: The Golden Age

Norman's Narcissim: Podhoretz in Love

The Middle East: War Without End

Classic Raimondo: Isolationism for Beginners

Notes on the Serbian Revolution and Other Matters

Revolt of the Little Guys

The Clinton-
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Szamuely's Folly: Sympathy for the Devil

Slobo's Gambit: Will It Work?

Adventures in Cyber-Politics, Revisited

Curtains for Milosevic

Dubya's Kosovo Deception

The Return of Pat Buchanan


The Vindication of Wen Ho Lee

Against the EU: Danes Resist Assimilation

UN Millennium Summit: Globalist Dream is Your Worst Nightmare

Iraq and the US – Our Fantasy Island Foreign Policy

Classic Raimondo: Allied Vultures Pick at Iraq's Bones

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Passage to Cartagena: An Inauspicious Visit

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Bush on Kosovo – Turning on a Dime

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The Outing of Ralph Nader, and Other Atrocities

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Additional Justin Raimondo Archives

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).



When Clinton signed on to the ICC, Senator Jesse Helms bellowed his defiance: "This decision will not stand!" But it might. The Bush administration is unlikely to openly and explicitly repudiate the treaty after Clinton went ahead and signed it: the Rome Statute will stay in limbo, not ratified but not rejected either. Furthermore, it will become the subject of a long, slow buildup by the internationalists, an ongoing propaganda campaign designed to result in eventual ratification. Clinton may be gone, but his legacy lives on, and someday we may recall it with more than mere embarrassment. In the early days of the Clinton administration, deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott enunciated the guiding principles of the Clintonian foreign policy in a article in Time magazine ["Birth of the Global Nation"] right before his appointment:

"Here is one optimist's reason for believing unity will prevail ... within the next hundred years ... nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority."


If you're thinking to get some relief from the incoming Republicans, think again. After all, it was Dubya's father, George Herbert Walker Bush, who first enunciated in a very public way the necessity of constructing what he called "a New World Order" in the post-cold war world, and the militant internationalism of Talbott and Madeleine Albright underscores the essential continuity of US foreign policy from one administration to the next, regardless of party. The foreign policy "debate," such as it is, consists of an argument over means, not ends. Dubya's father first went to the UN to get permission for the Gulf War, and only then did he deign to consult with the American Congress – while reserving his right to ignore congressional advice. Unless Dubya breaks with the internationalist tradition of the Bush dynasty, we are stuck with the tar-baby of the ICC whether we like it or not. Jesse Helms, while he is powerful, will not live forever. Unfortunately, neither will the independence of these United States – unless Republican legislators and the newly-installed President begin to hear from irate conservatives at the grassroots in record numbers.

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