ABOVE ALL LAWS
[Col. Writ. 6/26/03] Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
If there has been any constant in the last several millennia (besides
change), it has been the raging appetite of empires to remake the world in
their various images. All of them, the Roman, the Ottoman, the British, and
even the newest one, the American Empire, have cut through that which
before they formed, and sought to impose their interests on those unlucky
enough to be their subject states. If history teaches us anything, it is
that empires are inherently unstable, if only because they inspire enemies
rather than allies, and people seek to live free of their influences.
They have also sought to become the sole source of Law.
In the horrific aftermath of the 2nd World War, many nations gathered
together to try to erect a new set of rules and institutions that would head
off another world war, because the last two such wars left the world
in blood and sickened by death. They sought to erect a world criminal court
that could try armies and leaders that engaged in acts deemed violative of
the 'law of nations' (international law), and protected human rights. If
has been one implacable foe to that idea it has been the United States.
For over half a century the U.S. chose to ignore the push for such
an institution in Europe, and in many parts of the so-called ‘developing
Why, one wonders, would the U.S., the 'land of the free and the home
of the brave', dare oppose something like this? The Americans feared a
non-U.S. tribunal would hold its soldiers under violations of war crimes
and for over 50 years, the U.S. opposed it. When former U.S. president Bill
Clinton did sign a treaty in support of the International Criminal Court
(ICC), it sought to have veto power over any of its prosecutions (the UN
Security Council rejected that notion). Although signed by Clinton on 31
December, 2000, the Bush Administration some two years later announced
it would “unsign” the global pact. In the words of Defense Secretary,
Rumsfeld, “...[T]here is a risk that the ICC could attempt to assert
over U.S. service members, as well as civilians, involved in
and other military operations--something we cannot allow.”
When Belgian activists and attorneys filed an action against U.S. Gen.
Franks and other U.S. leaders, Rumsfeld went ballistic, threatening to pull
U.S. money from a planned construction of a new NATO headquarters in
That U.S. threat may cost some $115 million or so.
By the beginning of 2003 over 80 nations had voted for and ratified the ICC
treaty. The world's biggest enemy?
The United States.
The ICC, and the Rome Treaty which was a precursor of the ICC pact, have
been in the gun sights of U.S. military and political leaders for decades.
Nations may submit to international treaties, but for an Empire, such an
is utterly unthinkable.
Rome knew no master, save Rome; Byzantium bowed only to its own emperors;
The Ottomans submitted to Ottoman caliphs; ... Empires find it difficult, if
impossible, to recognize any source of power external to itself.
Now is the time of *Pax Americana*; the age of the American Empire. And,
as the Bush Administration began its reign, it pushed to abolish virtually
treaty it was a part of.
Yet, who needs immunity from war crimes, but one who intends to commit
Is the U.S. seeking clemency before its next My Lai massacre? Its foreign
We are watching an atrocity in embryo. Massacres are being hatched, in the
name of 'democracy,' 'freedom', and 'human rights.'
If we don’t act to oppose this obscene growth, this imperial fever, all
may come to rue the day it burst forth.
Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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