As I wrote not so long ago, The Great Bear has awoken and the Soviet Union is alive and well. According to CNN, Russia used cluster bombs to kill civilians in their attack on Georgia. This represents a war crime that could be taken to The International Criminal Court (ICC). Of course, Russia is not a member, and as it turns out, neither is the United States. Stepping away from the ICC was one of President Bush’s first activities, which means that in a (yet another) way, we are complacent to the crimes committed by the Russians. It also means that now is a good time for us to revisit signing and ratifying the Rome Statute that established the court and its jurisdiction.
The ICC exists because any country can go too far. It is not meant to usurp power from functioning democracies that enforce their laws, but is meant instead to provide redress to agrieved individuals and countries against dicatorships. Does this include Russia? I believe so. Russia has not yet demonstrated an impartial judiciary and prosecutorial service that provides oversight over the central government functions. Does it include the United States? I wouldn’t have said so until we began holding captives in Guantanamo Bay, and not providing due process. Torture at Guantanamo is particularly troubling. But it is nothing like the abuse currently going on in Georgia.