Jewish World Review May 16, 2002 / 5 Sivan, 5762

Paul Greenberg

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Invitation to a beheading - thanks, but no

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Two headlines in the same day's paper pretty well summed up the kind of justice a free country can expect from the United Nations' new people's court, or more formally, the International Criminal Court.

On Page 1, the indisputable crime was reported: "Bombing kills 16 in Israeli city." Back on Page 5 was the U.N.'s reaction: "U.N. Assembly vote condemns Israel."

So what else is new?

What's new is that the United States now has a president and commander in chief who's not about to go along with that kind of lynch law.

Last week the United Nations received formal notice that the United States would not be signing up for the U.N.'s new court after all. The United States was withdrawing from this treaty that Bill Clinton had signed, but one that, like the Kyoto Treaty on the environment and the economy, he had never dared submit to the Senate. Even the former president finally came out against the treaty unless it was rewritten, calling it "significantly flawed."

That an American president reflexively committed to every gaseous generality of international relations should have drawn the line at this international court should have told us something, namely: Watch It!

As this country's war against terror continues, would we really like to submit American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to the kind of kangaroo court the U.N.'s secretary-general recently appointed to report on the battle of Jenin?

Among the "fact-finders" Kofi Annan appointed was a former head of the International Red Cross who had once compared the Jewish Star of David to the swastika. This new International Criminal Court could prove equally impartial.

The armed forces of the United States of America, not for the first time, represent the single greatest force for liberty, safety and stability in this dangerous world. To invite an international court under the aegis of the United Nations to sit in judgment on American servicemen would be madness of a particularly masochistic kind.

The world does not need a replay of Stalin's show trials or Hitler's people's courts. George W. Bush made the right decision.

And the president is bound to be attacked for it by the same groups who opposed this country's striking back at al-Qaida and its Taliban sponsors.

The Europeans will be upset, too - at least until they need America to come to their rescue again. As in Bosnia and Kosovo, where Europe dithered until America finally acted.

Expressing its disappointment, a group supporting this treaty hit on just the right historical analogy in its statement. The Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court warned that the American decision to back out of the treaty "signals to the world that America is turning its back on decades of U.S. leadership in prosecuting war criminals since the Nuremberg trials."

The Nuremberg trials. Perfect. Those were the trials in which the Soviets, the heroes of the Katyn Forest massacre in Poland, sat not in the dock but in judgment.

Not many people dared to raise objections to the Nuremberg trials at the time - just the occasional respecter of law like Robert A. Taft, that old fuddy-duddy. But his brave stand against this kind of victor's justice was borne out as the whole, black book of Soviet crimes came to light.

Now the world is about to establish a kind of permanent Nuremberg tribunal in which representatives of some of the most loathsome regimes on the face of the earth may sit in judgment on free nations - the way Syria was given a seat on the U.N.'s Security Council.

Bob Taft saw it coming. He was never much of a politician; he wouldn't flatter voters, demagogue the issues or pander to the whole, long list of special interests that any presidential candidate must please, all of which explains why he was never president of the United States. Instead, he chose to be his own man, a constitutional scholar, and that rarest of leaders: one who dares speak blunt sense.

Never a popular leader, Sen. Taft was probably least popular when he said of the proceedings in Nuremberg: "In these trials we have accepted the Russian idea of the purpose of trials - government policy and not justice - with little relation to the Anglo-Saxon heritage. By clothing policy in the forms of legal procedure, we may discredit the whole idea of justice for years to come."

Even those who knew that Sen. Taft had a point hesitated to come out and say so in those post-war days, when the thirst for vengeance hung heavy in the air. He was pilloried by every organization from leading labor unions to the American Bar Association but, as the years have passed, his warning has proven prophetic.

Make no mistake: The Kofi Annans of the world would only begin with a small country like Israel. Soon enough the various police states who have rushed to sign up for this new International Criminal Court would find a way to turn their now impotent fury on Americans.

Thanks, but Hell, No.

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