John Bolton’s rant against the ICC is exactly why we are in an endless war against terrorism, a tactic that cannot be readily defeated and part of an evolving conflict that we cannot win. Our freedom and security is increasingly vulnerable given the ever more rapid evolution of war and the continuing development of ever more destructive weapons.
The Trump Administration that Bolton represents puts us at even greater risk. It is accelerating our government’s dysfunction by moving us backward toward nationalism instead of forward toward increasing global cooperation that is essential for effectively addressing the growing array of global threats to all of our cherished freedoms as well as both our individual and our national security.
Bolton claims that protecting our national sovereignty is essential to protecting our national security, but just the opposite is true. If Bolton and the American people understood exactly what unlimited national sovereignty really involves, they would understand it is literally a dead end.
“Unlimited national sovereignty" is essentially the freedom of every national government to do as it pleases regardless of how its actions affect the human rights of individuals inside or outside of its boundaries. When our U.S. government puts our national interest above the human rights of those in other nations, we invite accusations of injustice from those individuals and governments.
Those who fashioned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the 70th anniversary of that declaration is this coming December 10th) knew what was needed to prevent future wars and even greater threats to human life in the future (unprecedented new weapons technology, genocidal governments) and the lethal consequences of poverty (hunger, infectious diseases and pandemics).
Why would anyone want to mass murder Americans? Real or perceived injustices drive extremist action. U.S. foreign policy has consistently put the protection of powerful and often murderous and repressive governments above our greatest ideal of protecting human rights. Claims that terrorism is blowback to our wavering from our pledge of “liberty and justice for all” has some legitimacy. The chant “No justice, no peace” should be changed to “No justice, no security” because
without security we can kiss our freedoms goodbye.
The passage of the Patriot Act and our intelligence agencies' mass violation our 4th Amendment in an all-out effort ‘to keep us safe” was only the beginning. Imagine the future as those hostile to our irresponsible foreign policy acquire increasingly affordable and powerful dual-use technologies (bio, chemical, robotic, drone, cyber and so on) to use against this country. Nothing and no one will be safe.
We have two basic choices in moving forward. We can choose the “Rule of Law” which requires justice and the protection of human rights for all, or we can continue down the path of the "law of force,” better known as “war," which involves no concern for either justice or protection of human rights.
The International Criminal Court intends to move us in the right direction by holding powerful individuals accountable for mass murder when it results from genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. So far the ICC is not yet what it can and should become, but that is only because murderous leaders of nation states are still not being brought to justice, partly because the ICC still lacks full support from the U.S.A.
Every major religion holds at its heart the idea of the Golden Rule. That’s what justice is all about. Our founding Fathers knew that the only way of maintaining our freedom was to use our freedoms responsibly. If we use our national sovereignty to irresponsibly invade any nation, assassinate any suspected terrorist, allow collateral damage (the unintentional killing of innocent men, women and children), and sanction other nations to get what the USA wants, residents of our country should not be surprised by the lethal blowback.
Abraham Lincoln once said that the Declaration of Independence was a "golden apple" and the Constitution its “silver frame.” Until we adjust our Constitution to fit the "golden apple" and enforce "liberty and justice for all" globally, as the ICC attempts to do, our freedoms and security will increasingly be threatened.
Trying to preserve a system of global governance that puts the protection of national sovereignty above the protection of human rights is unsustainable given the evolution of weaponry and war.
Albert Einstein, a believer in the global rule of law, was once asked what weapons would be used in World War III. He said he didn’t know but that he did know that World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones. That makes him not just a smart man but a very wise one. And John Bolton? He’s neither.