Biden Unites With Republicans Against International Criminal Court

It's a death spiral for the 'Rules-Based International Order' as Team Biden says it's open to retaliation against the war-crimes court for indicting Israel's genocidaires. 

Biden Unites With Republicans Against International Criminal Court
Mike Johnson and Joe Biden wearing their very real matching Best Friends pins

Edited by Sam Thielman

LOOKS LIKE I SPOKE TOO SOON when I wrote on Monday that 

Biden unwound the sanctions but never re-signed the Rome Treaty, illustrating the difference between the liberal and conservative wings of the Rules-Based International Order. Similarly, while Biden has yet to take any action against the ICC, 12 GOP Senators last month told chief prosecutor Khan, "target Israel and we will target you," as my Zeteo colleagues first reported. 

That "yet" ended up doing a lot of work. After publication of Monday's edition, Biden called the International Criminal Court's indictments of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant "outrageous." And then yesterday, during Senate testimony, Secretary of State Antony Blinken went a step further. Here's Jaime McIntyre's write-up from his "Daily on Defense" newsletter in the conservative Washington Examiner

"The shameful equivalence implied between Hamas and the leadership of Israel, I think that only complicates the prospects for getting such an agreement," Blinken said, indicating the administration would be inclined to support a bipartisan congressional response.
"Sometimes we don’t agree on stuff, but I got to tell you, on the ICC, you got it exactly right,” Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) told Blinken. “Your characterization of it being shameful equivalents that they have engaged in yesterday is actually stunning."
"As you know, in the last administration, the Trump people did an executive order to do sanctions on certain members of the ICC who were investigating us for things that happened in Afghanistan," Risch said. "There’s a number of us up here that are working on a legislative approach to this that includes not only the Afghanistan question but also includes the question of the ICC sticking its nose in the business of countries that have an independent, legitimate, democratic, judicial system. … Do you think you can support a legislative approach to this?"
"We want to. Let’s look at it. We want to work with you on a bipartisan basis to find an appropriate response," Blinken replied.

And with that, the liberal and conservative wings of the Rules-Based International Order are united to defend impunity for war crimes when the U.S. or its clients commit them. ("Things that happened in Afghanistan," in Risch's cowardly phrase.) The point of invoking "countries that have an independent, legitimate, democratic judicial system" is to cover for those countries, most certainly including the U.S., specifically not punishing its personnel who order and commit "things that happened." Just last week, Australia jailed the whistleblower who exposed its special forces' commission of war crimes in Afghanistan. 

This is obviously not the Biden administration's posture when Russia or Sudan commit war crimes. The ICC, their actions demonstrate, is for those outside the 'Rules-Based International Order.' Karim Khan, the chief ICC prosecutor who is bringing the indictments against Israel and Hamas, said in an interview that  "I've had some elected leaders speak to me and they were very blunt. 'This court is built for Africa and for thugs like Putin,' was what one senior leader told me." As Zeteo noted last month, before the efforts to secure the indictments were announced, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration opposes "any threats or intimidation to public officials… including ICC officials." Blinken left himself wiggle room to reject the specific package the Senate GOP comes up with, but "threats or intimidation" to the ICC is once again the order of the day. 

At the State Department, spokesman Matthew Miller tied himself in knots trying to explain away Israeli impunity after the U.S. opposition to the forthcoming ICC indictment. Without the ICC, Palestinian redress could come through the Biden administration's policy on not selling weapons for war crimes—only, oops, that process didn't oppose those sales for Israel. Or an independent Palestinian state could "become a member of the International Criminal Court, as every state in the world has the right to do"—only, oops, Biden, unlike other world leaders today, opposes the recognition of Palestine, saying that the Palestinians have to negotiate independence with Israel, something Biden—oops—is not demanding the Israelis do. Or "Israel has its own investigation"—an unhinged, offensive statement willfully ignoring decades of institutionalized lawlessness when it comes to Palestinian life. Neither Miller nor Biden would ever tell a Ukrainian to submit to Russian justice, rightfully! 

"There is no such thing as a 'rules based international order' if the rules only apply to people and countries you don't like," observed Ben Rhodes, a senior foreign-policy adviser to Barack Obama. (His observation came before Blinken's comments, to be clear, and was not directly connected to Miller's comments, either.) Ben, let this radicalize you

Also before Blinken's comments, I went on Jordan Uhl and Rob Rousseau's podcast The Insurgents to discuss the ICC indictment. I could have been sharper—it was late, I had been parenting and I'm on a bunch of deadlines—and I regret not observing up top that the Israel indictments are the first time the ICC has touched those within the western ambit. But here's a sample:

The United States is isolating itself. It's showing that none of its rhetoric about the world that it claimed to be building bears any resemblance to the reality that we're seeing. All across the world, people who don't view this conflict—I'm sorry, people who don't view this genocide or any aspect of the broader conflict that has spiraled out from it, between Iran's coalition and the U.S.'s coalition [through Western eyes]—is viewing this as the United States discrediting itself rapidly. Ultimately, this is about who has to submit to international law and who doesn't, which is, I think, the correct way of understanding the real meaning of what Biden and others call the 'Rules-Based International Order.' 

Finally, let's check in on what Israel's been up to since the indictment announcement. The Guardian reports that Israeli security forces are collaborating with settlers to obstruct trucks full of aid bound for Gaza. Soon-to-be-indicted-war-criminal Yoav Gallant is favoring the return of Israeli settlers to three West Bank settlements near Nablus and Jenin that Ariel Sharon (!) ordered evacuated in 2005. "The Jewish hold on Judea and Samaria guarantees security, the application of the law to cancel disengagement will lead to the development of settlement and provide security to residents of the area," Gallant stated, obviously not meaning Palestinians when he promises "security to the residents of the area." And speaking of Jenin, the IDF has re-invaded the city in an operation still underway that has killed at least seven people

DO YOU HEAR THAT KNOCK ON THE DOOR? It's the Trump restoration. And Radley Balko has a long, comprehensive must-read piece about the mass deportations that the restoration plans on pursuing. We have no choice but to be clear-eyed about both Trump and Biden at the same time. 

KEN KLIPPENSTEIN has a great piece about the Department of Homeland Security making the membership of its new intelligence advisory board a secret. You are being told you have no right to know who is advising DHS on what will surely be crucial matters of domestic intelligence like the investigation of campus activists. "Without knowing who the advisors are, there’s no way to be sure that they don’t have conflicts of interest. And that’s a very real problem when the advisors will include individuals from 'private industry,' as the announcement says," Ken writes.

THIS IS ADMITTEDLY MAJOR TONE SHIFT, but last night I went to see my current favorite punk band, the U.K.'s Shit Present, play a glorious set at the Broadway in Bushwick, in what they said is either their first or second-ever show in the United States. Sorry-not-sorry to everyone near me whose videos I ruined by singing along. I can't remember the last time I went to a show on a Tuesday, but I simply could not miss Shit Present. They have a brand-new EP, Acting Tough, so new that the vinyl has yet to arrive at my house, but seriously, buy everything they've ever released, and especially last year's What Still Gets Me LP. (The link is to their Bandcamp.) Guitarist Thom was kind enough to let me take his set list, which is something I never ever do. I think the last band whose set list I took was Lifetime. That's how good Shit Present is!  I also bought a t-shirt that will get me a talking-to during school pickup. 

WALLER VS. WILDSTORM, the superhero spy thriller I co-wrote with my friend Evan Narcisse and which the masterful Jesús Merino illustrated, is available for purchase in a hardcover edition! If you don't have single issues of WVW and you want a four-issue set signed by me, they're going fast at Bulletproof Comics

No one is prouder of WVW than her older sibling, REIGN OF TERROR: HOW THE 9/11 ERA DESTABILIZED AMERICA AND PRODUCED TRUMP, which is available now in hardcover, softcover, audiobook and Kindle edition. And on the way is a new addition to the family: THE TORTURE AND DELIVERANCE OF MAJID KHAN