Friday, September 14, 2007

Fred Thompson in Miami

Republican Presidential candidate Fred Thompson appeared on Radio Mambi this morning. I heard some parts.

Thompson said that the United States should extend its economic ties with our hemispheric neighbors, in order to strengthen regional peace. Of course, this wonderful effort does not apply to official enemies like Cuba, maybe even Venezuela, since the US "must keep the embargo on."

Beth Reinhard from the Miami Herald, and blogging at Naked Politics, mentions another interesting comment that Thompson made in the interview: "[H]e stopped short of saying Raul Castro should be indicted on war crimes charges for the downing of a Brothers to the Rescue plane. Thompson said he didn't want to pave the way for other nations to indict U.S. officials on similar charges."

I remember hearing this with some surprise. I thought: Our troops charged for war crimes? No way!

Thompson's comment actually highlights a dilemma that Cuban exiles should seriously consider, especially those (like Unidad Cubana) who continuously call for criminal tribunals when Cuba is finally freed from communism (or something like that), because currently the United States REJECTS its participation in international criminal tribunals, and so does Cuba.

Today, there is a court that handles war crimes, acts of genocide and crimes against humanity: the International Criminal Court(ICC). Our last two Presidents (Clinton and Bush) have both rejected the universal principles of the ICC and its founding document, the Rome Statute. Furthermore, current US policy ensures that the US will be IMMUNE to any jurisdiction of the ICC, thus setting a dangerous precedent for other nations. Here's the official background from the US State Department:

"The Clinton administration began actively supporting establishment of a permanent ICC in 1995 and became involved in early planning. However, when 120 nations, meeting in Rome in July 1998 approved such a treaty, the United States voted against it.

"The Rome statute affirmed that '
the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation.'

"The United States determined that, as created under the statute, the ICC could pose an unacceptable risk to U.S. military personnel and to the president's ability to deploy forces to
protect U.S. and global interests."

The United States has signed the Rome Statute, but has not yet ratified it and has since undermined its global efforts. According to Human Rights Watch:

"The Bush Administration is attempting to negotiate bilateral impunity agreements with numerous countries around the globe. The goal of these agreements is to exempt U.S. military and civilian personnel from the jurisdiction of the ICC. The U.S. argues that such agreements are contemplated under Article 98(2) of the Rome Statute. Human Rights Watch disagrees. Such impunity agreements violate the Rome Statute and should be opposed. If State parties, as well as signatories of the Rome Statute, sign such agreements they would breach their legal obligations under the Rome Statute.

"Facilitating widespread immunity for U.S. nationals through negotiated bilateral agreements with the United States would provide a dangerous precedent. By signing an impunity agreement with the United States, states parties and signatory states would be endorsing a two-tier rule of law: one that applies to U.S. nationals; another that applies to the rest of the world's citizens. This would significantly weaken international law and states should resist the Bush administration's ideologically driven attack on the ICC."

US citizens, or any Cuban-American exile, cannot seriously threaten the Cuban government with crimes against humanity. It would be pure hypocrisy, until the US fully ratifies and respects the Rome Statute (not to mention other aspects of international law). Furthermore, without the ICC, any other tribunal of crimes against humanity (against the Cuban government for example) would not be recognized.

The tribunals that Unidad Cubana, Armando Perez-Roura, or others call for is but a corrupted display of power and revenge. If they really believed in legal actions then they would abide by the universal standards of law, and advocate that the US abide by such standards too.

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