Patriots were aghast in the early months of Barack Obama’s presidency when, as one of his first acts of foreign policy, he toured Europe begging our allies for their forgiveness for the Bush administration’s unilateral actions in Iraq. It was one thing to believe that mistakes were made in the lead-up and execution of the greater War on Terror; it was quite another to see an American president grovel before other world leaders. And sadly, as evidenced by such abominations as the Paris Climate Agreement, the refusal to enforce the “red line” in Syria, and many other examples, Obama’s apology tour set the tone for his entire presidency: A tone that might be fairly characterized as “America Last.”
President Trump and his national security advisor, John Bolton, made that extremely clear this week. Upon hearing that the International Criminal Court would be investigating so-called “war crimes” committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Trump administration sent a powerful and unambiguous message to the court: Don’t even think about it.
“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” said Bolton. “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.”
The ICC is an institution that none other than President Bill Clinton advised his successor, George W. Bush, to steer clear of. Clinton was responsible for signing the original Rome Statute that led to the ICC’s development, but U.S. officials soon realized that this was no typical United Nations charter. The ICC was beholden to no sovereign government, subservient to no meaningful oversight, and unprecedented in its scope and power. The final details were a bridge too far for the Clinton administration, and when Bush was elected, he effectively “un-signed” the Rome Statute, bringing the U.S.’s affiliation with the court to an end.
So while the anti-Trump media are presenting this episode as just another example of how President Trump thinks he’s above the law, the fact is that the U.S. has had no official relationship with the ICC…ever. But it’s understandable why the media might be confused; Obama, unlike Clinton and Bush, expressed enthusiastic support for the International Criminal Court during his presidency. After all, that support was in line with Obama’s chief guiding principle, which states that even if the United States isn’t necessarily the worst country on the planet, it CERTAINLY isn’t better.
It’s to our undying gratitude that we again have a president who believes that America IS exceptional and who will not relinquish our sovereignty to anyone.