U.S. Attack on I.C.C. Is Seen as Bolstering World’s Despots

John R. Bolton’s critique of the International Criminal Court echoes criticisms from dictators and threatens the future of the court, the U.N.’s war-crimes prosecution mechanism.


Comments: 68

  1. Bolton seems to thrice in jobs where he can press his personal agenda without a vote by the American people of confirmation by the Senate. The man simply stated is bad for America and our way of life.

  2. Who will hold these genocidal state criminals and human rights violators accountable? Who speaks for justice in the world? John Bolton? Donald Trump? Does the Russian mafia set up court to curb government corruption?

  3. Once more, the USA sided with despots. What will be next?

  4. @FFFF We have already seen how
    comfortable Trump was with Putin in
    their recent meeting. Next he may
    welcome Kim Jong-Un, Aung Sunn Kuyi
    to the white house.

  5. The difference between United States and other countries like India and China is the double standards that USA indulges in. USA wants ICC to investigate war crimes in Syria, Sri Lanka, Mynmar, Sudan etc. But does not want ICC to investigate War crimes committed by USA and its allies. Whereas countries like India and China opposes ICC each and every time and not just when it is convenient

  6. I suppose this is also part of "America First". It is a preposterously immature view of the world, exactly all that Trump is about: a huge spoiled brat, ignorant and massively opportunistic, a total egomaniac. When it comes to accepting common responsibilities, the baby screams.

  7. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. As much as I detest the man, occasionally Trump adopts a rational policy. This is one of those times ( as was defunding UNRAW and tightening up immigration of unvetted persons from Muslim majority nations).

    Besides considering to investigate US soldiers in Afghanistan, ICC is considering investing charges brought against Israel in contravention to an act of the US Congress passed in 2015.

  8. Under the leadership of Trump our country now stands against the rule of law and the soft treatment for dictators. As the Donald attacks the American justice system his crony seeks to weaken the international tribunal.

  9. For a politician who claims to run on a platform of law and order, it is clear that the only laws that Trump respects are the ones that support his authoritarian, jingoistic and racial policies.
    Though it may have its flaws, the idea of an International Criminal Court reflects a desire to hold accountable those who commit the worst crimes against those who are at the mercy of brutal authoritarian governments. Will it ever attain the status of a functioning court whose rulings are respected by the rest of the free world? That remains to be seen. To cut the court off at the knees before it has a chance to prove its worth is counter to the democratic principals the United States has stood for since its inception.
    And now we have an administration that wants to hold no one accountable for atrocities and war crimes. It is hard for Trump to point a finger when he is up to his neck in muck himself.

  10. American Exceptionalism is so great. Except for all the ways that matter.

  11. This shameful speech comes as we learn that the Blackwater mercenaries convicted of manslaughter and murder in the deaths of unarmed civilians in Baghdad will have their sentences reduced or get new trials. Every day the moral stance of the United States is diminished in this administration.

  12. Bolton perfectly reflects the POTUS who appointed him. Instead of working to improve the World Court he attempts to tear it down and make it irrelevant. The World Court may not be perfect. But fr exceeds in perfection both the very flawed John Bolton and the extremely unqualified and failing POTUS, Donald J. Trump.

  13. Notice the company that John Bolton keeps - thugs who think they are a law unto themselves. Not inconsistent with the political stripe he serves, whose mission it is to destroy any institution, whether national or international, that gets in their way.

  14. Criminals don't like investigators, prosecutors, or courts.
    So no surprise about John Bolton and the Trump administration's continuing attack on the ICC, Mueller, federal judges, and others who seek to bring criminals to justice.
    As far as the headline "bolstering world's despots," the number one despot being bolstered is Donald Trump.

  15. Bolton does not believe in human rights and he’s not alone. The international criminal court is based upon the concept that everyone has rights that all must respect, that humanity has an obligation to protect the rights of individual human beings. Most human societies consider the rights of individual humans to be dependent upon what those societies determine. If any society excludes anyone, that person no longer has any rights that anyone is obligated to respect. It’s human group affiliation and psychology to treat outsiders as them verses themselves.

    Bolton is just another old fashioned conservative who thinks that no human has any rights that society must respect unless society sees some utility from doing so. Based upon this point of view, there are no such thing as crimes against humanity, any leader of state is free of blame for all that they do on behalf of the states that they lead. There are no war crimes. War crimes are just the victors taking revenge against the vanquished from this perspective. Thus any international criminal court is unjustified by any reasonable interpretation of international law.

    It’s just another case of people trying to undo the international system that the U.S. introduced after WWII thinking that our power to dominate the world can be sustained as long as we choose.

  16. The tragedy of the Trump administration continues to unfold. In the end, the only allies we'll have will be Israel and a few scattered despots such as Dutarte and Putin. We have to remove Trump and the thugs and gangsters he's surrounded him selves with.

  17. From where do we get these hateful authoritarians, those without either sympathy or empathy?

    How do we get rid of them?
    Vote!!

  18. "Ineffective, unaccountable, outright dangerous?"

    Mr. Bolton, I'll tell you what I tell my students: When you point your finger, three fingers are pointing back at you.

  19. Trump administration relies on bombast
    and threats. Not only Bolton but Halley
    at UN also uses strong words bordering on
    insults against the countries. This administration
    is working hard to antagonize the countries.
    Winning hearts and minds is not the policy
    of Trump. He has staffed his administration
    who are his mirror image.

  20. John Bolton expressed loud and clear the fundamental principle of international law. International law does not apply to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and their respective allies, only to their respective ennemies.

  21. New York Times: On War Crimes Court, U.S. Sides With Despots, Not Allies

    Sounds like: On Police Beating Confessions Out of Suspects, Critics Side With Criminals, Not Victims

    Mafia assassins “got a powerful voice of support this week from” the ACLU which irresponsibly declared torture induced confessions to be “ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous,” and threatened legal actions against police, prosecutors, and judges who obtain or utilize such “confessions”!

    Logical conclusion: the ACLU is the equivalent of Mafia assassins. Or, the US is the equivalent of “despots, strongmen and dictators.”

    Since (despite allegedly being “envisioned as the world’s permanent judicial body”) the United Nation's court (the ICC) was created by a treaty to which the United States is not a signatory – which the Senate has never ratified, the ICC has no jurisdiction or authority to investigate, try and imprison American citizens. Neither the ICC nor the UN nor any other “global organization” is a world government which negates or supplants US sovereignty.

    As revealed by National Security Adviser John Bolton and others, the ICC prosecutor and staff are unelected bureaucrats who are not answerable to any government or institution, and yet they claim unbridled power to investigate, charge and prosecute American citizens, no matter what the U.S. government says.

    Illegal, unauthorized conduct must be opposed even if some allegedly guilty parties may benefit.

  22. This is the same UN who has nothing to say about murderous thugs in China, yet condemns the only democracy in the middle east.
    The fact that our allies like the court, or that dictators don't like it, has nothing to do with the US.
    Part of the reason why Trump won is because many Americans are tired of kowtowing to this biased, non accountable body

  23. I'd ask you when the ICC got "unbridled," power or went after an American citizen, but there's not much hope of reality here.

    I mean, cripes, we literally had a small squad of troops collecting heads in Afghanistan a few years back, a Marine is on tape shooting a wounded and helpless prisoner, Betsy de Vos' brother runs a company that shot up a traffic circle and killed 17 people trying to get home after work, one of our airstrikes blew up more than 120 civilians in an Iraq basement last year, and nobody's allowed to say boo?

  24. Trump has already committed crimes that should be brought before the I.C.C. HE knows it and WE know it.

    It is obvious that Trump's total disregard for the rule of law has spread to ALL law, domestic and international.

    As a possible target of prosecution in the I.C.C., Trump's actions here constitute yet another avenue of OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. Fortunately we have other world leaders who hold Trump accountable for his crimes, not the least of whom are Macron, May and Merkel. Clearly his Republican acolytes do not.

    Under Trump the United States has lost any standing as a moral high ground. His MAGa fraud has demeaned all Americans and made our country a pariah on the world stage.

    WE NEED TO GET RID OF TRUMP (and his mini-me Pence) and put him where he belongs - in jail (preferably Guantanamo). Not until then can we have the respect that the vast majority of Americans have earned and deserve (read this as non-Trumpites).

    Trump is a disgrace of epic proportion, like his waste line and, orange face and combover. His lies, frauds and abuses have exceeded any in our history - equaling McCarthy.

    VOTE! Remember, a vote for ANY Republican is a vote for Trump. Your children will thank you.

  25. Trump is awful, we know. Hopefully one day he will do something so outrageous he can be removed.
    But that day has not come. The dems wish it did, hope it did, want nothing more than to say it did, but there is no proof that Trump committed any crimes. Just because Cohen says he did doesn't prove anything. Just because phony dems who take his offhand joke about asking the Russians to find Hilary's emails as evidence, ..well it isn't. It was a quip, a remark, spoken on the campaign trail, Like "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor", Or "no new taxes. No honest person puts any real meaning into that.
    As for the emoluments issue, that's ridiculous. Trump probably nets 37 cents per hotel stay for anyone who stays at a trump property. It's an insignificant amount.
    There is no proof of obstrucyion, or impeachable offenses, Mueller would have said it , or leaked it, if it were true.
    Yes, he's a fool. But he won, as the constitution clearly outlines. Electoral college, not total votes

  26. It'll be fun to watch the Right try to retrench into, "Well, okay, he's being indicted and it looks bad, but innocent until proven guilty " after Mueller releases his reports.

  27. Of course Donald Trump wants to dismantle The Hague. He’s looking into the not-too-distant future and seeing himself on trial for illegally ripping children away from their parents and putting them into detention camps.

  28. This, just before the airing of "Black Earth Rising" is broadcast, a serious BBC drama about the ICC regarding Rwanda!

  29. Bolton is an unrepentant war hawk. Given the opportunity he will side with Trump's worldly lack of knowledge and drive the US further away from its friends.

  30. I think you over-estimate the actual real support the court ever had in the United States. Despite the lip service under Bush II and Obama, when push comes to shove, Washington's position has always been that war crimes cease to be war crimes when they are committed by Americans. Look at the non-response to My Lai, which was about as egregious an incident as can be imagined. This is just more of the same.

  31. @curious Let us not forget the atrocities committed by the Black Water killers. They are now being quietly turned loose. Bush and Bolton made sure the ICC didn't have any input to their crimes.

  32. Bolton just proved America has blood on its hands. The Hague is a respected organization now falling under the whims of a corrupt trump administration. Sending our troops with incompetent decisions from past administrations, including congress without proper intelligence and law is a crime.

  33. "Mr. Bolton worked to undermine the court early in the Bush administration," and has generally served not only as a staunch supporter of US military escapades as preferable to diplomacy, but moreover as a provocateur of same. Why would we expect anything else from a neocon war criminal.

  34. @Vincenzo, he is an extension of the Bush Cheney arm of continuing to dodge being held accountable for those unspoken horrors - Iraq and Afghan wars and their tragic consequences, worldwide.
    Just in 2017, countless people died due to Islamic extremism. You can trace this extremism directly to the tragic wars.
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/islamist-extremism-caused-84000-deaths-worl...

  35. US doctrine is "Do as I say, not as I do." This goes back to waterboarding and your decision as a country to get down in the dirt with the torturers. Bolton's is the ugly face defending your doctrine. Wallow in it America.

  36. Just as DJT believes he's above the law, John Bolton believes the United States is above the law; and just as DJT would abolish the special prosecutor, Bolton would do away with the International Criminal Court if he could. One day, the role of the ICC may be far less critical; but as long as we live in a world of competing belief systems, this court is absolutely necessary.
    In the near future, we will program the human mind in the computer, and this program will be based on a "survival" algorithm. When we do this, we will have irrefutable proof as to how we have tricked our minds with ridiculous beliefs about just exactly what is supposed to survive. We will finally see the harm in all beliefs and begin the long road back to reason. Then, and only then, can the ICC be downsized. This won't be easy or quick, but necessary if the human species is to survive.
    See RevolutionOfReason.com

  37. Just as DJT believes he's above the law, John Bolton believes the United States is above the law; and just as DJT would abolish the special prosecutor, Bolton would do away with the International Criminal Court if he could. One day, the role of the ICC may be far less critical; but as long as we live in a world of competing belief systems, this court is absolutely necessary.
    In the near future, we will program the human mind in the computer, and this program will be based on a "survival" algorithm. When we do this, we will have irrefutable proof as to how we have tricked our minds with ridiculous beliefs about just exactly what is supposed to survive. We will finally see the harm in all beliefs and begin the long road back to reason. Then, and only then, can the ICC be downsized. This won't be easy or quick, but necessary if the human species is to survive.

  38. One can only speculate in wonder at what the Trump administration is planning. Martial law following the 2018 elections, suspension of Congress and the Courts, a purge of the government and perhaps the population by eliminating all who do not take an oath of loyalty to Trump?

    Yes, it can happen here.

  39. @George N. Wells
    Please read Madeleine Albright's book: "Fascism-A Warning".
    Fascism is most certainly nibbling around the edges of the USA as well as other democracies in the world.

  40. the international crime court has been dedicated to the interests of the United States. (broadly, the West)

    now, Bolton, who is a self-declared-patriot, attacks his own nation's hegemonic device which was proved most effective.

    autoimmunity?


  41. These attacks on the International Criminal Court are yet another scary example of Trump's robotic impulse to break things first, think about the consequences later (if at all). He has no fresh ideas, no back-up plan, nothing but a joy of destruction for its own sake. He does not want to improve anything or institute something better; he merely loves the rush of setting fires.

  42. @Jane, don't be fooled. IT is the Bush Cheney Condoleeza Rice force that is channeling John Bolton as a member of Trump administration, to ensure that Bush team is never never indicted by the international community to be held accountable for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

  43. This was to be expected. This line of thought, that participation in international tribunals potentially compromises US sovereignty and security, has a long lineage. Bolton, particularly, as the article notes, has been against U.S. participation in the I.C.C., although he has hardly been alone in opposing a court system that would not perfectly reflect the guarantees afforded our citizens by the U.S. Constitution.

  44. The ICC has accepted into their membership a non-state entity that pays subsidies of $350+ million per year (half its annual budget, derived from foreign aid)....to terrorists. That would be the Palestinian Authority.

    Speaks volumes about the legitimacy of the ICC.

  45. Before everyone is overcome by a sense of righteousness and the catharsis of a ritual disdain for anything Trump, could anyone imagine the US allowing a US citizen to be tried by the ICC?

  46. Absolutely! For a court to be a voice for the world, the citizens of all nations should be accountable. The decisions of the World Court have ruled mostly on moral atrocities defended to have been committed by a person, persons or government. Why should any nation be exempt from those standards?

  47. Yes, lots of'em.... too many to name here!

  48. You are known by the company you keep... trump & co continue to drag the us down to the level of despots and thugs.

    Their real fear is being forced to confront what they are and what they are doing. Denying the Hague is just admitting their guilt.

  49. I can only feel that Bolton's worry is that the administration will have to appear before the court in the future.

  50. A corrupt, despicable person spewing self-serving, irresponsible would-be policy statements to the world. The ICC is much needed in this era of ever-emerging and increasingly powerful despots -- the US included under the illegitimate Trump cabal.

  51. He and his boss Donald Trump loves Saudi Kings, Bahraini Monarch, Qatari-UAE Sheikhs, Putin, Xi, and Kim Jong.

    Do we need to say more or take this much space in New York Times?

  52. This is simply the rise of those who were organized behind the assassinations in the '60s and the ruthless bombings of Cambodia. Pure for fascism. Absolute disregard of community. A madman was elected president disregarding any truths. His henchmen proceed.

  53. Of course trump, Bolton and the GOP endorse un-accountability for themselves. That’s why they cheat to get absolute power, stack the courts with their own. Since they can’t do that with the ICC, they hate it.

  54. Too bad the International Criminal Court was set up with a political agenda against the USA. Is it even possible for a truly international body to avoid ridiculous bias? Nuremberg was successful only because only a few countries drove it. Even the history of our own SCOTUS suggests a generally accepted outcome is difficult in contentious, political cases from Dred Scott to Roe v Wade. Happily, the USA has the option of ignoring this International Criminal Court.

    Given the nature of the UN (such as ridiculous votes against Israel) how is it possible the UN could institute a effective court?

  55. The headline of this article is a laugher. With the decision to abandon the court most importantly means is that the US is even freer to unilaterally invade other countries, undermine sovereign governments, imposed sanctions, which are economic warfare, and encourage its biggest recipient of US tax dollars, Israel, to continue and more outrageously engage in internationally condemned apartheid and genocidal actions - without any restraint whatsoever. But hey, this isn’t news, we live with it every day with our media paying more attention to childish witch hunts against Russia and politically incorrect tweets by our President.

  56. What actual value do member nations derive from the ICC, besides symbolic threats of unenforceable prosecution? How much money have member nations collectively spent on the few convictions that the court has garnered? What actual value is the court to anybody if three of the most populous (and militarily aggressive) nations in the world (India, China and Russia) won’t sign on?

    This article is heavy on provocation, but short in any meaningful defense of the organization’s efficacy (or lack there of). We as a nation should consistently revisit international institutions or treaties and evaluate whether they still serve our national interests - we shouldn’t pander by maintaining symbolic institutions that have little practical value to the United States.

  57. @Kyle H,

    India has never been involved in any wars supporting a third country unlike China, Russia (soviet union) , USA, UK. even countries like Canada and Australia has been involved in more number of wars than India. You forgot to Add USA and UK to the list militarily aggressive countries

    https://www.infoplease.com/timelines/major-military-operations-world-war-ii

    As for India and china are concerned these countries do not have a double standard that USA has. They always oppose ICC where as the USA wants ICC to investigate killings in Syria, Sri Lanka etc. but do not want to let ICC investigate the war crimes it may have committed. So the value USA derives from ICC is it will use ICC as a bludgeon to sanction or attack other countries and lecture them on Human right, but do not want the very same agency to scrutinize their own actions.

  58. Bolton's claim that the international criminal court is a threat to US "sovereignty" is like saying rape is an affront to masculinity.

  59. Imperialist war-mongers as crude as Bolton of course give the game away when in advance of crimes that they will commit they seek to eliminate any and all venues where they and their ilk might be tried.

  60. I take it that by his outburst Bolton would also decry the Nuremberg war crimes trials against the Nazi war criminals and imply it was also politically biased against those "poor" misunderstood Nazi's,Bolton really is a rabid right wing zealot along with his boss trump who prefer to kowtow and appease the despots and dictators of the World rather than stand with the Democratic countries against these despots,a truly sad indictment of this amoral administration under trump.

  61. This is the Bolton we came to deplore and despise in the early 2000s. And, of course, our despot-wannabe president loves these tirades favoring American cruelty as justifiable. Bolton, alone, is worthy of GOP anger and reprimand but they're actually too afraid of him. The man could have been one of Hitler's best generals.

  62. The NAZI leaders tried at Nuremburg were mostly convicted of deliberately starting the war which was the basis of their war crimes. They engaged in a lot of other atrocious behaviors in the course of making war that also were war crimes, but that was the common charge for which those convicted were found guilty.

    According to international law, starting a war without acting in self defense of an imminent or immediate attack is a violation. If a country attacks another to prevent it from becoming a threat, it could be considered a war crime and the leaders who ordered that attack could be tried for war crimes in the ICC. That is the concern of Bolton et al.

    However, all wars these days tend to result in far more non-combatants and civilians who likely do not support any wars than the people in the military or who advocate them. There is more than ample reason to challenge the sovereign rights of any nation and their leaders who slaughter innocents with indifference or malice. The old rules of states and their leaders being free of criminal liabilities for their acts are no longer justified. All people deserve to be safe from murder and mayhem from power hungry state actors.

  63. John Bolton was a prime architect, planer, and ardent promoter of the invasion of Iraq and one of the first signatories of The Project For A New American Century which first put forward the proposal for the invasion.
    One could seriously argue, as many have, that he is a war criminal.
    Might this be why he is so ardently and viscerally attacking the International Criminal Court and personally threatening the sitting justices?
    Think about it.

  64. Mr. Bolton should push for a more sincere agenda. Namely, supporting the deployment of neutron warheads in an attack on all other sovereign nations in a display of the full might of our nation's imperial desire and manifest destiny. Problem solved.

    President Trump and his family would then have the entire world to remake into golf courses and luxury condominiums for the benefit of those deemed right-minded folk.

  65. This actually isn't anything new or a "Trump" thing. As a few folks have noted, we have consistently loved the I.C.C. when it comes to nations we want to pursue and despise it when used against us and Israel as well, or for that matter any country currently in our good graces. Unfortunately for us, the rest of the world is cognizant of this hypocrisy.

  66. Why can't these guys take the money they have already gathered by whatever means and just go away?

    We don't need any of the pontificating windbags who get all the press.

    They are eviscerating us and bankrupting the yet born.

    Should be "The Federalist Cartel"

  67. Is there a specific war crime that Bolton is concerned that America is involved in? There are so many to choose from.

    One can make the case the last just war the U.S. fought was WWII. The others were either questionable geopolitics or just plain failures.

  68. This article is the kind of article you see too often in the Times that makes no sense.
    The article tells us Bolton is wrong to be against the court and is undermining it's legitimacy,
    It goes on and tells us the court has achieved nothing which to me also undermines it's legitimacy.
    You can't have it both ways.
    The article doesn't say what Bolton believes is wrong.
    They can't because he is not wrong.
    So instead they ignore his argument.
    They don't even tell us what that argument is.
    They just tell us Trump agrees with Bolton as if that is enough to prove Bolton is wrong as it is taken as a given that Trump is never right.
    Bolton is right.
    The idea that there should be a court is not a bad one.
    It's this court that has to go.
    They need either to make changes to it that will make the court function the way it should or they should or admit it was a failure and can't be fixed.