WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Sentence first, verdict afterwards!" the Queen decrees in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," a miscarriage of justice to which poor Alice attempts to object. "Hold your tongue!" the queen retorts, before adding, "Off with her head!"
That may be amusing in a children's book. It is far less so when it describes the judicial philosophy of the United Nation's misbegotten International Criminal Court (ICC).
Created by the so-called Statute of Rome in 1998, the ICC was ratified by fewer than one-third of the world's nations, representing only 17 percent of the world's population. In the closing moments of his ill-fated regime, Bill Clinton made the United States a signatory. But in May 2002, President George W. Bush formally withdrew U.S. recognition from the court and dispatched Undersecretary of State John Bolton to inform United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan of the decision. Bolton describes that act as "the happiest moment of my government service." He ought to be happy.
The noble-sounding ICC presumes to punish four offenses: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of aggression, although it has yet to define what that is. But since the court opened its doors for business in March this year, just as coalition forces were closing in on Baghdad, all the anxieties about the ICC being used for politically motivated prosecutions and as a global emergency room for international ambulance chasers have proven to be right. Contrary to Anglo-American judicial tradition, the ICC recognizes no statute of limitations on its jurisdiction. And in typical U.N. overreach and pretension, the court claims jurisdiction over countries that are not even signatories.
The ICC is not yet six months old, and it is already being used as a forum for interfering in, and impeding, the legitimate actions of sovereign states. The Athens Bar Association has filed a 47-page criminal complaint with the court against British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, alleging Britain's military actions against Iraq constitute "crimes against humanity and war crimes." It is the latest of more than 500 complaints filed with the court thus far.
Athens may be the birthplace of democracy, but these days it's a hotbed of anti-Western sentiment that deems Prime Minister Tony Blair to be a greater world menace than Saddam Hussein (the Mother of All Dictators); Muammar Ghadaffi (the U.N.-appointed Human Rights Czar); Yassir Arafat (the Nobel Committee's choice for Terrorist of the Year in 1994) or Kim Jung Il (the real "Human Scum"). Even Lewis Carroll couldn't conceive of such abject absurdity.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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