The world was fed up with imperial power at the end of WWII. Thus was established the United Nations. Supportive legislation quickly followed: the 1948 Convention on Genocide, the International Code of Human Rights, laws against weapons of mass destruction, and more. In 1998, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established to try persons charged with war crimes anywhere in the world, including officials of the US government. This act has kicked off a super bowl for world power.
The Bush administration is on one side, claiming that global war crimes shall be tried at the behest of their military-led tribunals. This one-group domination of world affairs is reflective of G.H.W. Bush’s pronouncement of a “new world order,” or world plutocracy. As minimum yet necessary context, European plutocracies like the 700-year-old Hapsburg dynasty of Austria and the 500 year-old German Hohenzollern royal family collapsed during WWI, allowing inchoate democracies to emerge. The struggle of elites to rule the world should never be under-estimated. Nor should we forget that the President’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, had his company assets seized by the US government in 1942 for trading with Hitler, who was attempting to establish a 1000-year Reich of subjugated masses. In a nutshell, Bush and company would rather try the world than have the world try them.
The other team is a unification of nations to be exercised through the ICC. A democracy of nations they envision to be the “new world order.” Here we stand today watching the two great titans of democracy and plutocracy go head to head in a contest for global control—populism or dominion, the people versus the elitists.
Let’s take a look at the scoreboard. Of the world’s 243 countries, 191 are member states of the United Nations. So far, 139 countries have signed on to the ICC, including Bill Clinton for the U.S., but in an unprecedented move George Bush Jr. “unsigned” the agreement. Many countries are in the process of ratifying the ICC. On October 28, Mexico became the 100th state to ratify. Does this mean that the global democracy is winning the game? — not exactly.
The Bush elites are not waiting for the day when arresting officers show up on their doorstep. They have launched an end-run around the ICC in hope of thwarting prosecution. The Bush-ites tithe military and economic aid to third world countries by way of Article 98 Agreements, also called Bilateral Immunity Agreements—BIA’s. These agreements exempt all US military personnel, U.S. Government officials, and their mercenaries from any and all crimes against humanity.
Moreover, the Bush-ites have fielded a good-sized team. On May 2, the US State Department announced that the 100th country, Angola, signed a BIA. Quarterbacking for the Bush team is John Bolton: “Our ultimate goal is to conclude Article 98 agreements with every country in the world, regardless of whether they have signed or ratified the ICC…” With the world public as referees, The Bush team could then argue that a legitimate standoff exists.
To take a quick lead, the Bush team has run a play that upstages the ICC. Before the ICC can really get on the field, Bush-ites have captured the world media with their military tribunals of Slobadan Milosovich and Saddam Hussein. Their plays are usually punitive. Last year the U.S. Congress passed the Nethercutt amendment, cutting off Economic Support Fund’s to any country that has ratified the ICC and refused to sign a BIA with the U.S. A couple dozen countries have already lost aid, money that is inevitably tied to the U.S. corporate agenda. Some potential tacklers are ready to go. In June, Ecuador’s president, Alfredo Palacio, angrily declared that, “Absolutely no one is going to make me cower.”
With only about 30 countries having ratified BIA’s, the ICC appears to be in the lead, but the Bush team retaliation could prove formidable. If they can intimidate and impose enough economic sanctions to force additional third world countries to sign the Article 98 Agreements, they might be able to force the vast majority of the worlds’ poor to accept the new Bush dynasty. Bush may go for a touch down. The question remains whether or not the will of the masses can provide enough collective power to tackle him before he crosses the goal line.
If the plutocrats lose, one outcome seems clear. The Bush-ites will not go home before attacking the ICC sideline. The elites’ campaign against the court also includes the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (ASPA), which authorizes the president to use military force and invade The Hague to free U.S. personnel detained by the ICC. This will not bode well in world opinion. The ICC is about a world volunteering for democracy, while the Bush players are conscripted, notwithstanding the corporate media parade of another “coalition of the willing.”
The stakes could not be higher. The Bush elites envision a final perpetual aristocracy, policed under a guise of perpetual terrorism. When the U.S.S.R. collapsed, the final domino fell. Nothing stood in their way, other than to condition the world to a new more terrible bogey-man, the omnipotent omnipresent terrorist. A “commie” under every rock has been replaced by a “terrorist” under every rock. For those of you who would like to check out of nightmare Hotel California, remember the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria will have no new world to escape to and hide. On the other hand, just maybe, the world might choose a nightmare for the elitists—perpetual democracy.
—Bo Filter, free-lance social science researcher and author of The Cause of Wars and Aggression