Imperialist countries have created a vast array of instruments to force the rest of the world to follow their diktats. To such high sounding bodies as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that respectively manipulate others politically and financially, must now be added the International Criminal Court (ICC). Established in 2002, the ICC based in the Hague has an annual budget of $125 million. This number is considered grossly inadequate to deal with serious issues of war crimes committed by a long list of people strutting about the globe as world leaders and statesmen, but the West finds special utility in the new body.
The issue, however, is neither its low budget nor even where it is located although it could be argued that based in a European country, it leaves a distinct impression of being an instrument of Western hegemony. When set up in 2002 only 66 out of the world’s 195 countries — barely one-third — ratified the Rome Statute. Seven years later, this number has inched to 108 but that is still only half the countries of the world. Why the other half is not impressed needs to be addressed. The non-ratifiers clearly have no faith in it for a variety of reasons ranging from reluctance to relinquish sovereignty to seeing it as the white man’s justice. Since the overwhelming majority of countries in the world fall in the category of “non-white” and are situated in the South — as opposed to the European and North American North — this division clearly comes into play.
The issue that has greatly sharpened contradictions revolves around the March 4 warrant issued against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity — the first time in its history that the ICC has charged a sitting head of state. The allegations were leveled because of the ongoing civil war in Darfur where an estimated 200,000 have died and millions have been displaced since March 2003. Darfur has become a political tool in the hands of anti-Muslim Western powers that have set their sights on destabilizing Sudan with the ultimate aim of destroying it. There are vast oil and mineral riches in Sudan that Western corporations covet; Khartoum’s real “sin” is that it signed exploration agreements with China for which it is now being punished.
There is no question about the suffering of the people of Darfur, nor about the ongoing war in which different tribes are killing each other but the issue is not as simple as has been presented by the West’s self-serving propaganda. Both the timing of the uprising in Darfur, coming immediately after the Sudanese central government signed an agreement with Southern rebels ending a 20-year-long civil war, and the mode of operations of the Darfurian rebels armed with heavy weapons that even the Sudanese forces did not possess, clearly point to foreign hands. Church groups, Zionists and a number of Western governments are interfering in Sudan. Since all people in Darfur are Muslim, the anti-Muslim card cannot be used as was so effectively done in Southern Sudan. Here, an ethnic twist is utilized: the Darfurians are presented as “Africans” while the central government in Khartoum is run by “Arabs”. Why Arabs cannot be Africans is not explained but the propagandists can count on the ignorance of their own people, especially in North America. Africa is a continent and being African is not an ethnic label: if white South Africans are considered Africans because they reside in an African country, on what logic are northern “Arab” Sudanese excluded from being African?
The Darfurian rebels launched attacks on government forces in March 2003 but the Sudanese government did not take any action until the rebels attacked a military base killing a Sudanese general and destroying a number of aircraft in April 2003. No government worth its salt would tolerate such brazen attacks nor allow rebels to challenge its authority with impunity. While the West and its media have been crying hoarse about the killings in Darfur, there is not even a hint that the Sudanese government has the right to defend its territorial integrity.
One can see the contrast in demands made of the Pakistani government to go after the Taliban and tribesmen in the mountains of Western Pakistan on the pretext that they are challenging federal government writ. The US has even threatened to attack directly if the Pakistan army would not do so. The US has done just that: it has used drones to attack suspected rebel bases in the region that has killed thousands of innocent civilians but only 14 militants, according to US media reports. Why is the US justified in violating another country’s sovereignty and forcing the government there to attack its own people but it is forbidden for Sudan to defend its territorial integrity and to defeat the insurgency that is trying to break up the country?
The case against President Bashir is riddled with numerous contradictions. It was initiated by a UN Security Council referral even though three of its five permanent members — Russia, China and the US — have not signed on to the statute. So while 60 percent of the Security Council’s permanent members do not have any faith in the ICC and do not recognize its authority, they still believe they can give the West and the ICC the right to charge a sitting head of State with war crimes and crimes against humanity! Further, the ICC has thus far pursued only Africans, in the Central African Republic and Congo as well as Sudan and Uganda. “That,” said the African Union (AU) chairman Jean Ping in February, “is a problem.” He rightly asked why no cases had emerged from conflicts in Gaza, the Caucasus, Colombia or Iraq. He could have named names: former US President George Bush, his vice president Dick Cheney, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and a host of American Zionist neocons as well as the Zionist rulers of Israel: President Shimon Peres, then prime minister Ehud Olmert, defence minister Ehud Barak, air force chief Major General Ido Nehushtan and Chief of Staff General Gabi Ashkenazi and many others who between them are responsible for killing millions of innocent people have not been charged. AU chairman Ping said, “We don’t want this double standard.” This is an understatement; the ICC is nothing more than an instrument in the hands of the imperialist powers. Both the Non-aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Conference have condemned the ICC’s warrant against Bashir.
Successive US governments have pursued genocidal policies that have resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million people in Iraq due to sanctions (1991-2003) and the subsequent war unleashed on a pack of lies in March 2003 that has so far claimed 1.3 million lives in Iraq. Thousands have been tortured and are still being tortured in Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Countless others have suffered horribly at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay. Cheney has proudly admitted on television that he authorized torture. There are memos to prove it. Bush, Rumsfeld and a long list of others are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. So why is the ICC not going after them? After all, these people invaded two countries thousands of miles away and are now spreading their wars into Pakistan and the Central Asian republics as well. The ICC has merely alleged President Bashir’s wrongdoing; Bush, Cheney et al’s war crimes are well documented as are those of the Zionist rulers of Occupied Palestine.
The fact is the ICC is an instrument of Western imperial hegemony.