“The ICC is the enemy of liberty”
from Srdja Trifkovic’s RTTV Interview, February 18, 2013
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RTTV: UN investigators say that both sides in the conflict in Syria are committing war crimes. This comes as former UN Prosecutor Carla del Ponte said that the International Criminal Court should launch an investigation into the war crimes in the country. We now talk to Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor at Chronicles magazine, who is in the Serbian capital Belgrade. UN investigators called on those responsible for the murders in Syria to face justice in the International Criminal Court. What is your take on the situation? Is Syria a place where the ICC needs to be involved to get the job done?
ST: I would say that the ICC is not the forum for any country to see justice done. It’s a very peculiar institution. It is outside any constitutional design that delineates how laws are made, adjudicated, enforced, or made accountable. In the ICC’s central structures such checks are either greatly attenuated or entirely absent. In that sense, the ICC is modeled upon The Hague Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The prosecutor is effectively accountable to no one—and, like in the Yugoslav war tribunal, he answers to no superior executive power, elected or unelected. The power of the ICC prosecutor to act without third-party restraint, and to claim universal jurisdiction, offers the scope for considerable legal creativity—and that creativity depends on the will of the political masters. Ultimately, it is a political court. The foundation of the entire edifice is the ideology of universal political and legal culture for the whole world as defined by the postmodern West—and again, we’ve seen this with the Yugoslav Tribunal at The Hague, and I was there less than two weeks ago, where I testified for the third time. To cut the long story short, the ICC is the enemy of liberty as understood and practiced by the Western institutions since the Enlightenment. The moral absolutism at the core of the ICC is immoral.
RTTV: The UN says that both the rebels and the government are committing war crimes. Do you think that the international community will start dealing with both sides more evenly?
ST: Again, I have to come back to the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal. During del Ponte’s tenure between 1999 and 2008—it lasted eight years and four months—her prosecutions against the suspects focused to such an extent on the Serbs, that in the end the ratio of verdicts, in terms of years in jail, stands 20 to one. 1,200 years to the Serbs allegedly committing crimes against Muslims, Croats and Albanians, 60 years to everybody else for crimes against the Serbs. So, “both sides” is really a fig leaf, which is supposed to hide the essence of this project—and it is to treat Bashar and his government as members of a “joint criminal enterprise.” And remember this term: “joint criminal enterprise” is an all-embracing, quasi-legal concept used by the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal to indict everybody within the hierarchy, and lower down the scale.
RTTV: Speaking of the fairness of the issue—earlier you talked how unfair and immoral the whole thing is—Britain now wants to send more arms to the Syrian rebels, but was rebuffed by other EU nations. Why are they so keen to help the armed opposition?
ST: By the same token, we should ask why was the U.K. under Blair so keen to join Bill Clinton’s war against the Serbs in 1999, or to play second fiddle to George W. Bush in the war against Iraq, on equally spurious grounds, in 2003. Britain likes posturing as the voice of the “moral majority” in the West. It is really a second-class, declining power that is dancing to the tune from Washington.