Scheer Intelligence: Even The ICC Can’t Rein In American Exceptionalism

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Above photo: International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Photo credit: ICC.

The U.S. response to the international criminal court’s decision to permit an investigation into the Afghanistan War highlights the profound danger America poses to the world. 

In early March, senior judges in the international criminal court ruled that an investigation into the actions the U.S., Afghan and Taliban military committed in 2003 could take place, overturning a previous ruling. Perhaps more remarkable than the fact the ICC, which had earlier assumed such an investigation wouldn’t be possible because none of those implicated would be likely to cooperate, was the U.S. response to the decision. 

“This is a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Although the Trump official’s blatant disparaging of a global justice organization is deeply troubling, American undermining of the ICC predates both Donald Trump’s rise to power and the Afghanistan War. As the retired Maj. Danny Sjursen and author of the upcoming book “Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War” explains to “Scheer Intelligence” host Robert Scheer on the latest episode of his podcast, the U.S. preempted any attempts to investigate its actions in the aftermath of 9/11 days after the terror attacks took place and before the ICC was fully established in 2002.  

“Three days after the towers came down on September 14th, we signed [the American Service Members Protections Act, also known as the Hague Invasion Act,] a law that basically authorizes the president to go after Al Qaeda,” says the Army veteran. “But it’s very vague and I think guys like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton [who voted in favor of it in the Senate] were very aware that the U.S. military is about to run rampant in the middle East. It’s about to do whatever the heck it thinks it needs to do in order to stamp out terrorism. 

“So preemptively, I think there’s a fear that if we don’t punish some of our guys, if they got out of order or some of our allies, these militias in warlords that we’re gonna operate through,” the historian continues, “we might face an awkward situation where U.S. troops or a U.S. general or even a U.S. civilian official in the Bush administration might be called before this court.”

The profound cynicism behind declaring a nation imperious to international law preemptively is not lost on either Scheer or Sjursen. As Scheer points out, the law, which allows the U.S. to invade the ICC’s headquarters in The Hague to release Americans held by the court, is a codification of a broader American belief that whatever the nation does is always morally correct, despite potentially being defined by international organizations as a war crime. 

“This investigation by the international criminal court really struck a raw nerve with three different administrations, Democratic and Republican, Obama, Trump, and Bush, right?” says the “Scheer Intelligence” host. “All these years [after the Afghanistan war began], the brave prosecutor [Fatou Bensouda] finally got permission from the international criminal court [to investigate torture and war crimes]. 

“That’s how wild and reckless they are in making charges against the U.S.,” Scheer adds sardonically. “It’s taken them all this time, right? For 18 years, really almost the length of the war, to look into what was done by the United States as well as the Taliban in Afghanistan.” 

Sjursen, who served in Afghanistan and says he witnessed war crimes committed by U.S. allies in the Afghan army, as well as the unintentional death of civilians at the hands of soldiers under his command, indicates that to him the refusal to allow for accountability is not only reprehensible, it’s actually offensive to members of the military such as himself.

“Ultimately this is us saying that we are above the law,” asserts the historian, “and I also find it somewhat insulting because the implication is that I can’t keep my own soldiers in line, right? That our laws aren’t sufficient. 

“But you know, from a historical perspective,” he goes on, “one can understand Pompeo’s and [former White House adviser John] Bolton’s fear, but not in the same way that they frame it. The ICC is supposed to be the court of last resort when the individual nation responsible is not holding their people to account. Well, if you look at the [William] Calley Case in Vietnam at the My Lai massacre where hundreds of civilians, including babies, were murdered in a ditch–he really served no time. Now you look at the [Eddie] Gallagher case, the Navy SEAL who allegedly murdered a captive and his own SEALs turned him in.

“We have a very bad record historically holding our people to account,” the retired Army major concludes.

Listen to the full discussion as Sjursen and Scheer delve into the sordid thinking behind American exceptionalism and how it poses a danger to the international community. 

 

  • OmniaQuaerite

    Mafia nation.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Robert,

    “Even The ICC Can’t Rein In American Exceptionalism” in running this Disguised Global Crony Capitalist EMPIRE, eh?

    The invisible Elephant in the room is the cancer of Empire.

    As George Lakoff, UC Berkeley’s Cognitive Scientist says, “Don’t Think of an Elephant”

    But I can’t stop thinking of an English Officer a top a giant Elephant riding off within the Empire to “Shoot an Elephant” and bring the Elephant’s tusks to the New World of free Enterprise for the growing cancer of Empire in the United States of American Elephants, Eh?

  • SamandClaire

    Shame on the American government for not making the war criminals accountable for their criminal conducts. Shame on American people for not making its own government accountable for not doing its job dealing with the war criminals. The ICC, the last resort to investigate the war criminals on behalf of the humanity, should do its job. America is not above the law as much as the Nazi was not above the law. Most Americans are in a peculiar state that we seem to suffer from a frozen or a hijacked common senses. I do not know what will take to trigger people to come to their own senses and get the country back from the corporatists. No more endless wars to benefit the corporatists using our tax dollars. It is not a real war when the cause to go to a war and the evidence to go to a war are manufactured.

  • jwreitter

    Look who’s afraid of world justice: The most powerful nation in the world! It is time to face up to our criminal past or we won’t have much of a future. The first step toward change is admitting our past and present faults, folly and “mistakes”, but this is a daunting task for the US because our entrenched systems of education, deception and propaganda will be so difficult to overcome. It will probably require a revolution with millions of workers, students and seniors in the streets for an extended time, surrounding the halls and houses of the owners of the big machine. For this to happen, everything will probably have to get a lot worse. And this, of course, is what is actually happening now. Throughout history, when the people turn against entrenched fascism, the result is bloody conflict that lasts for years. A peaceful transition to equality and justice would be better if one can be found.

  • John R.

    It’s great to see Robert here after the debacle over at the now defunct TruthDig. Thank you !

  • 0040

    American war crimes have been successfully neutered as an issue . Mr Scheer must be aware of how many empty seats there are today on that bandwagon that now only services feeder routes for deluded dissenters.

  • 0040

    He does have a Larry King like resilience . But has lost touch with American elites as well . Perhaps a program on Mr Putin’s RT to top up his pension and satisfy his need to educate the masses?

  • 0040

    Goes back to Truman and the Dulles boys when the MIC and spy services captured the reins of power in the US, according to the “Devil’s Chessboard”

  • 0040

    Enjoyable read . However, The Turtle quote is attributed to Mr Russell but predates him , and is about infinite regress in rhetoric , and does not apply to your equally inaccurate view of America’s failed attempts at empire . More of a Shooting The Hippo scenario described by Linda McQuaig .

  • didactic1

    Judge Judy has more power than joke junketeers on ICC.

  • John Chadwick

    The U.S. ‘democracy’ is the real culprit. We keep bribery and corruption and lawlessness alive-and-well by voting for the ‘least evil’ of corporate-chosen candidates. doG bless america

  • countykerry

    Ridiculous.

  • Steven Berge

    Go American Yellow Vests!

  • Southern

    The US military are able to refuse unjust orders – they’re also able to arrest their own war criminals and sometimes they do but then they deal with them in their own courts.

    What really needs to happen is for the rest of the world to develop a spine by demanding that their politicians stop obeying Washington’s illogical lie based warfare – that they refuse to acknowledge the lies reveals a great deal and how deep the rot truly is.

    ————-

    on the surface it appears that the only requirement to end US exceptionalism is the ratification of international laws and treaties.

    The ICC is already in place – However a caged and toothless tiger without the power to arrest individuals.

    All signatories of the Rome statue are obliged to the principles of the ICC which has juristriction to prosecute over the most serious of international crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression – However Bush jr unsigned the US in 2002 – [as if somebody already knew about the consequences if he didn’t]

    I’d love to see a group of nations forming a block demanding nothing less than that the US ratifies international laws and treaties and becomes accountable to those laws – Something which can be done however they need to grow a spine.

    US defense forces also have the power and the ability to deal with their own war criminals – They need not obey unjust orders – What they lack is the moral conviction.

    The US does not recognize international laws and treaties, yet hypocritically refers other countries to the ICC whenever this it suits the occasion

    US exceptionalism is beyond absurd – The US deep state is so full of itself that they’ve granted themselves permission to extract their own war criminals from the ICC – that should have been enough to provoke a response – yet crickets rule.

  • Southern

    Have you read from Nazi’s to Neocons on 21C?

  • Southern

    Sometimes they do hold their own war criminals accountable but in their own courts and not those on top of the chain of command.

  • SamandClaire

    It also appears that a current trend is to underestimate (under report) the collateral damages and atrocities happening to the local citizens.

  • Southern

    Under reporting of civilian casualties is standard practice yet entirely deliberate.

    Compare it to how the US offered a 5 K bounty for enemy combatants who ended up in black prison sites such as Gitmo.

    No evidence was required to verify if they were indeed enemy combatants, people were taking advantage of the bounty in order to settle personal disputes.

    In the end, to empire it simply doesn’t matter when innocents are captured or killed as long as the illusion of enemy combatants prevails they have a reason to continue waging lie based wars.

    Thanks to Manning they have been caught in the act.

  • SamandClaire

    The examples you mentioned are a reality of American exceptionalism of a rogue nation.

  • Southern

    American exceptionalism is nothing without the full support of Washington’s vassal states or the WEST [Washington Economically Submissive Territories]

    What raises my suspicions is how much influence a corporation such as Blackrock gained by buying/stockpiling all US government bonds in relation to the recent 6 Trillion dollar bailout.

  • SamandClaire

    Well, a war with China might be possible, if a dollar is no longer an international currency.

  • Southern

    The dollar is already lost – look how desperate they are to attempt to keep it afloat – another 6 Trillion of quantitative easing will only devaluate it even more -the dollar is confetty.

    The reasons for the pivot to Asia have been just as illogical as the lies for invading Afghanistan and Iraq in response to 9-11

    For the Neocons – it’s always been around full spectrum dominance and they’re willing to bomb a nation back to the stone age or even orchestrate false flag events such as the stay behind cells operating all over Europe – most notable example was the Italian Gladio.

    China isn’t the enemy but neither is she a bright shiny beacon of humanitarian values.

    Many a Western corporation have grown rich by outsourcing manufacturing to China – will that suddenly come to an end because of Washington’s illogical NeoLiberals – the oligarchs won’t like it.

    It simply doesn’t make sense to first of all wage an economic war against China only to contradict that by turning around in a show of pure gangsterism by bribing Chinese officials to divert a plane load with pre paid medical supplies and mask bound for France right off the tarmac back to the US.

    If anything the world really needs China [and Cuba] right now for her manufacturing and Cuba for her medical expertise.

    Waging war against China should be off the table – both Russia and China have been extremely diplomatic, kind even considering how the US Neocons have treated them in recent times.

    Worldwide sanctions need to be lifted US war criminals need to be placed on a one way flight to The Hague and I don’t care if they fly rendition style.

  • 0040

    The video on YouTube ? No ! Nazi = national socialist, neocon/neoliberal = equal international capitalist , until the 1960s . A tiresome and duplicitous Rothebardesque process described repeatedly by Chomsky over the decades . An attempt at modernizing/refdefining old tropes that have lost their meaning.

  • Southern

    21C stands for 21 Century the website – From Nazi’s to Neocons is the title of the article.

  • 0040

    I’ll stay with the definitions of the various isms inculcated in my youth..