Some great points made here but probably a bit of an overstatement of the effect on the overall election. Too much emphasis is placed by the media (because they have to report everything as a huge story even when it isn’t) on the VP pick because of the seeming abuse of power by Cheney as VP. I agree with what Frum says but I just don’t believe this changes the election outcome too much. The focus will still be on the main candidates and if any proof is needed just ask the average person the difference between Obama and Biden’s views from the primaries eight years ago. A sad but accurate truth.
A new article in the Christian Science Monitor points out the recent successes of international courts in prosecuting criminals or seeking trials for leaders who committed atrocities in their respective countries but have not paid for their actions. The idea of international courts is a great effort toward giving the world a moral compass in the treatment of the most vulnerable but there is a big problem with these courts: the biggest powers in the world refuse to play along because they risk embarrassment if their relations with brutal regimes are exposed.
If you’re a protectorate or client state of a Security Council member, chances are that the ICC prosecutor isn’t going to be jumping out of his or her chair to open a full-blown criminal investigation. Why Libya and not Bashar al-Assad and Syria’s bloody maelstrom? Ask Moscow. Why Cote d’Ivoire but not Mahinda Rajapaksa and the brutal ending to Sri Lanka’s civil war? Ask Beijing. Why Kenya but not the violent suppression of protests in Yemen or Bahrain by those governments? Ask Washington.
Many people in the United States are against the idea of submitting to the international courts because of the fear smaller countries will use their cohesiveness to oppress America. But the likelihood this happens is, of course, nearly nonexistent. If you need an example, just look at the United Nations and the ineffectiveness of other countries to end the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba.
There is, however, another pertinent factor that should be addressed. If there is agreement someone who commits atrocities in their country or against another one should be prosecuted and can’t be put on trial because of their power within their own homeland, why are U.S. citizens so afraid of international courts? The fact is it helps to have outside perspective at times and living in the bubble of your own country’s media is a difficult way to judge whether your government is acting wrongly.
This isn’t to say every time a politician expresses an opinion on an international situation, they should be put on trial for a perceived insult. But it is to assume there might be situations where an international trial could be justified, even if we are just speaking of future endeavors. And the first step toward true international justice would be for all three permanent members of the Security Council and current ICC holdouts to sign on to the treaty and let the courts gain more legitimacy in the eyes of the international community.
The situation in Iran continues to grow worse as the presidential election in the Unites States progresses. In the past few days, we have seen Republican candidate Mitt Romney call Iran the biggest national security threat to the U.S. President Barack Obama announced new sanctions on international banks dealing with Iran. And Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, along with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, stated military actions are not out of the question in dealing with Iran and could take place sooner rather than later. All of this in spite of the reality there is no proof yet of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
The scary part of unconventional weapons, of course, is if someone were to have them and actually use them. It’s one thing to have them as a threat as many countries around the world possess nuclear weapons but have not used them in warfare. It’s an entirely different and heinous act to use these weapons in warfare and know they will have long term effects on the area, particularly if it is a civilian area like a large city. We have seen many ruthless leaders denounced for these actions over the course of history and should expect only the highest amount of responsibility when they are used by “peaceful” nations.
That being said, why is the U.S. so terrified about a nuclear armed Iran? Because the U.S. clearly knows the effects of unconventional weapons as it has apparently very recently continued their use.
Many who followed the Iraq War are familiar with the city of Fallujah and the fierce fighting that took place in 2004. What we don’t know is the type of weaponry used by the U.S. when shelling the city. Some clues are beginning to emerge as to what may have been used: uranium laced ammunition. Aljazeera reported on the aftereffects of the fighting and a curious trend has been increasing as birth defects have risen to alarming levels. Some studies are stating the number of defects has reached “five times the international norm” and radiation levels in Fallujah are also high.
Which brings us back to the situation with Iran. The United States is very concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and they should be. No one wants to see the use of these weapons and no one wants to be a part of the aftermath of destruction they leave behind. However, the hypocrisy of the U.S. position is obvious. If the United States government does not want unconventional weapons used on anyone in times of warfare, the work clearly need to begin at home and a long, hard look must be taken as to the U.S. willingness to use chemical and biological weapons.