The International Criminal Court is one of those unaccountable multilateral organizations beloved by President Obama. The ICC prosecutor now threatens to undertake an investigation of the United States for war crimes in Afghanistan. Speaking on behalf of President Trump at a Federalist Society event this afternoon, National Security Advisor John Bolton had an unambiguous message for the ICC. In the words of the Motown song: Baby, don’t you do it. If you do, you’ll regret it. It is a swaggering, make-my-day speech asserting the sovereignty of the United States and warning the ICC: Don’t tread on us.
Bolton put it this way: “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”
It is a great speech. It is an educational speech. It is an inspiring speech. Bolton speaks from deep knowledge of the subject. As he relates: “I was honored to lead US efforts internationally to protect Americans from the court’s unacceptable overreach, starting with un-signing the Rome Statute. At President [George W.] Bush’s direction, we next launched a global diplomatic campaign to protect Americans from being delivered into the ICC’s hands. We negotiated about 100 binding, bilateral agreements to prevent other countries from delivering US personnel to the ICC. It remains one of my proudest achievements.”
C-SPAN has posted video of the speech here. I have embedded the Washington Post video of the speech below and cued it to begin with Bolton’s remarks following Federalist Society President Gene Meyer’s introduction. I can’t find the official text of the speech, but the best transcript is posted here. NPR has a good summary here.
What would President Obama have done? He expressed equivocal support for the organization. The evidence is gathered here. We can be thankful that he was never put to a test of the kind threatened in this case. We must count this yet one more thank-you-President-Trump moment.
Quotable quote: “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. And we certainly will not join the ICC.”
Bonus: “The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel. And, today, reflecting Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel, the State Department will announce the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office here in Washington, D.C.”