United States sovereignty not to be reckoned with
February 4, 2010 | By Amanda Reinecker
Over the past two decades, there have been a number of attempts to subject Americans to an international judicial system with jurisdiction over war crimes and the like. This idea of a “world court” became a reality in 1998 with the introduction of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Court itself was officially established in 2002 after 60 countries ratified the statute.
To date, no U.S. President has ratified the Rome Statute, including President Obama. Last summer, Heritage Foundation experts Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves released an analysis paper explaining why past Presidents were right not to ratify. They wrote:
Past U.S. Administrations concluded that the Rome Statute created a seriously flawed institution that lacks prudent safeguards against political manipulation, possesses sweeping authority without accountability to the U.N. Security Council, and violates national sovereignty by claiming jurisdiction over the nationals and military personnel of non-party states in some circumstances.
The Obama administration’s announcement last week that it would not seek ratification was certainly a welcome one. But the administration left the door open for enhanced American cooperation in the International Criminal Court. But this “enhanced” cooperation would require altering important policies that protect our military servicemen and civilian officials from being transferred to the ICC without U.S. consent.
So although the U.S. has once again rejected the Rome Statute, the ICC still poses a danger to our sovereignty. As Schaefer and Groves explain on National Review Online, “the ICC and the use of universal jurisdiction are two facets of an increasingly prevalent and alarming trend of eroding national sovereignty by divorcing the vital link between the law and the people subject to it.”
Though its objective to hold war criminals accountable for their terrible crimes is a noble one, the ICC’s unaccountable autonomy and broad jurisdiction invite politically motivated indictments, inefficiency and inflexibility. It is flawed “notionally and operationally,” write Groves and Schaefer. The U.S. is right to be skeptical of any agreement that would bind us to such an institution under which foreign powers could trump even our own Constitution.
McConnell on Obama’s terror policy
It’s no secret that President Obama’s policy on confronting terrorism, and particularly on the future of the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility, has not been received with fanfare on either side of the aisle. As Heritage national security expert James Carafano explains, the political posturing “is compromising our national security and making a mockery of the rule of law.
In an address at The Heritage Foundation on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explained that the Obama administration is far too concerned with distancing itself from the previous administration and treating terrorists as common criminals, when it should be focusing on preventing future terrorist attacks.
McConnell cited the Obama Administration’s handling of the Christmas Day bomber as the “most egregious” example of its “blind spot” when it comes to fighting the war on terror. Unfortunately, this “was not an isolated case,” he said, and, worse, it likely will not be the last.
What we need is sound judgment and the adoption of policies that work, whether or not these policies were in place under the previous administration. And when that judgment call is made, McConnell stated, “our priorities should be clear: keeping Americans safe should always win out, within the law.”
Other Heritage Work of Note
- A recent analysis in the Wall Street Journal describes a significant increase in the unionization of government workers. In fact, as of 2009, more than half of America’s union workers were government employees. To conduct this analysis, the Wall Street Journal turned to The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk, a fellow in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis. This just goes to show that the media see Heritage as one of the top go-to organizations for current, reliable, and razor-sharp data and analysis.
- While increasing government regulations continue to strangle the private sector, the number of public service jobs has skyrocketed in the past two years, Heritage President Ed Feulner reports. In fact, state and local governments spent $1.1 trillion on employee wages and benefits in 2008, which is about half of those governments’ entire budgets, and their employees make almost $40 an hour, 25 percent more than the average private sector compensation. These increases drain discretionary income from American citizens, leaving even less money to maintain the successes of families and small businesses across the country. “It’s time governments took control of their payrolls,” says Feulner. “After all, we’ll all be paying for these decisions for decades to come.”
- Many members of Congress are still desperate to push some semblance of a health care bill, even if this means making much smaller adjustments rather than a grand-scale reform. But Heritage Vice President Stuart Butler warns against even small changes that would inflict great harm, such as the proposed federal oversight of a menu of private insurance plans through the Office of Personnel Management. Managed by political appointees, warns Butler, the OPM plans would increasingly resemble a government-run “public option.”
- China is unlikely to overtake America as a superpower, Heritage Vice President Kim Holmes writes in the Washington Times. While China’s economy is growing rapidly, the nation suffers from an undervalued currency and tight government regulations on exports. The fact that China holds about seven percent of U.S. Treasury debt only confirms their dependence on the United States. The American market is the only one large enough and stable enough to support China’s excess funds, forcing the Chinese to buy U.S. bonds. Writes Holmes, “China’s economy is as large as it is because it has well over a billion people, not because it has unlocked any great secret to economic prosperity.”
- Even though several government programs require serious reform, the Obama administration has decided to fix what isn’t broken, like subsidies for child care. “At the maximum,” Heritage analyst Chuck Donovan writes, “his proposed expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Credit would put $900 into the pockets of families that purchase institutional day care while offering nothing to couples that sacrifice time with each other, or added income, to raise their own children.”
- After almost a decade of continuous warfare, our nation’s military personnel are tired and are not receiving sufficient training, Heritage’s Mackenzie Eaglen writes. But there are no current plans to reinvest in the military, which is important despite tough economic times. Increased military investment is necessary and should trump costly cap-and-trade programs and government-run health care programs. “The impact of collective decisions made over the past 15 years and the operations tempo of U.S. forces abroad means that today America is in danger of losing vital core security capabilities without increased investment,” Eaglen writes.
In Other News
- Senator-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) will be seated at 5 pm Thursday afternoon. Brown was scheduled to be seated on February 11th but demanded an earlier date, arguing that there is no doubt of his victory and that there are a number of important votes taking place prior to that date.[w4]
- Ben Bernanke was sworn in for a second term as Federal Reserve Chairman this week. The former Princeton University professor was confirmed last month by a Senate vote of 70 to 30, the most opposition to a Fed chief since the chamber started confirming in 1978.
- The premier of the Canadian province of Newfoundland will travel to the United States for heart surgery rather than use his country’s government-run health system.
- Former Alaska Gov Sarah Palin, mother of a child with Down syndrome, has demanded that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel issue a public apology for referring to Senate liberals as “retarded.”
Coming Up at Heritage
To attend these or any other events at Heritage please RSVP at Heritage’s website. Or you can view these events live online. All times are Eastern.
- On Tuesday, February 9th at 12 o’clock noon, Prof. Sidney Milkis of the University of Virginia will discuss his book, The Election That Transformed America: Teddy Roosevelt, the 1912 Election, and the Progressive Party.
Amanda Reinecker is a writer for MyHeritage.org—a website for members and supporters of The Heritage Foundation. Nathaniel Ward, the Editor of MyHeritage.org, and Eva Brates, a Heritage intern, contributed to this report.