SUDAN WATCH: US's John Bolton says the most logical answer is to empower the Sudanese and others to overthrow Bashir

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

US's John Bolton says the most logical answer is to empower the Sudanese and others to overthrow Bashir

In the following opinion piece by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN, Mr Bolton writes:
The most logical answer to Bashir’s murderous ways is not to indict him from the safety of The Hague, but to empower the Sudanese and others to overthrow him. Then, with new, legitimate authorities in place, the Sudanese could themselves deal with Bashir and hold him accountable for the crimes he has long committed in their name. That is a far better way, if there are to be prosecutions, than trying to hold Bashir accountable in a court thousands of miles away from the crime scene.
Blimey. I'm flabbergasted at Mr Bolton for even thinking those words. I'm stunned at his mindset and fear he is not alone in the way he thinks about the Sudan crisis. I'm trying to work out why I have hesitated over publishing this item. On the one hand it is inflammatory warmongering, but on the other hand it shows a good example of why Sudanese rebel groups feel encouraged and not interested in making peace. I am disgusted by Mr Bolton's statement. The US is up to its eyeballs in debt and hasn't the slightest intention of invading Sudan militarily. As a British citizen, I implore the British government - as a matter of vital importance and urgency - not to be associated in any way with the stance that the insurgents, France and the U.S. are taking against the Sudanese people and their government.

Sudanese Dictator Thumbs His Nose at U.N.’s 'Criminal Court'
By John R. Bolton, U.S. ambassador the the United Nations
March 25, 2009
The recent indictment of Sudan’s leader, Omar al-Bashir, by the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) graphically demonstrates why the ICC is fundamentally flawed. Criticizing the ICC, of course, is not equivalent to defending Bashir for his actions in Sudan’s Darfur region. We can simply assume, and probably correctly, that Bashir is guilty of every offense the ICC has charged.

Bashir’s evil, however, does not justify the ICC’s indictment. The ICC is a potentially huge source of unaccountable power, exercising the weighty executive authority of prosecution, and the enormous judicial power of trial and sentencing, all without the slightest accountability to real people or their elected representatives. Moreover, for Americans, mixing executive and judicial powers in one self-contained institution is itself deeply troubling.

ICC advocates respond that it is responsible to the 108 governments now party to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC. But this defense actually demonstrates the ICC’s unaccountability: an international meeting of 108 governments is rarely capable of anything but platitudes, and certainly not the hard decisions required to oversee sensitive prosecutions.

Because the ICC lacks effective oversight, there is every risk it will take actions that have unforeseen effects in difficult crisis situations. In real governments, decisions can be coordinated to form an overall national policy. The ICC, however, is disconnected and autonomous, causing consequences for which it bears no responsibility.

In fact, Sudan’s decision to expel Western humanitarian aid groups in retaliation for Bashir’s prosecution now threatens to make the grave humanitarian crisis in Darfur even worse. While the Security Council has tried for years to create an effective international peacekeeping force in Darfur to reduce the violence and provide security for humanitarian relief deliveries, the ICC’s indictment has simply made matters worse, and will continue to have that unfortunate effect well into the future.

For too many Westerners, the ICC is a substitute for a truly effective response against the repression and violence taking place in Darfur. Unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to resolve the Darfur crisis, these Westerners are content with “gesture politics,” symbolic acts which may make them feel better about themselves, but which have no positive impact where the tragedy is actually occurring. The world’s hard men, like Bashir, are not deterred from committing outrageous and inhumane acts for fear of being arrested if they travel to the great capitals of Europe. That may deter those who create institutions like the ICC, but Bashir and his ilk are quite content to stay in the world’s Khartoums and run their cruel and authoritarian governments as they see fit. Moreover, many other governments around the world, attracted to Sudan’s rich oil reserves, will happily finance Bashir and those like him, making Sudan’s current government essentially immune from economic pressure.

Although many sincere people argue for “humanitarian intervention” in Darfur, or “the responsibility to protect” its suffering population, no government has yet been willing to take the difficult steps to actually carry out such an intervention. Nor is there any prospect for such action in the foreseeable future because of the tangible -- if unpleasant -- reality that stopping the Darfur atrocities is not sufficiently in any other country’s national interest that it will order its own citizens into harm’s way to end them.

The most logical answer to Bashir’s murderous ways is not to indict him from the safety of The Hague, but to empower the Sudanese and others to overthrow him. Then, with new, legitimate authorities in place, the Sudanese could themselves deal with Bashir and hold him accountable for the crimes he has long committed in their name. That is a far better way, if there are to be prosecutions, than trying to hold Bashir accountable in a court thousands of miles away from the crime scene.

A representative Sudanese government might, in fact, chose not to prosecute Bashir and his cohorts, but instead follow South Africa’s route after the end of apartheid. There, the new democratic government created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring to light the facts of apartheid’s cruelty, and thereafter to move forward. One can advocate either prosecution or reconciliation, but that decision should ultimately be for the Sudanese to make. Removing the decision from them nurtures false but superficially appealing charges of “Western imperialism,” and ultimately impedes Sudan’s own political development

Even among the most outspoken Western critics of Bashir, no one is lining up for “regime change.” That should tell us something, and no one knows it better than Bashir, faced with the ICC indictment. He had no fear in expelling non-governmental organizations providing aid to the very people the indictment is theoretically supposed to be vindicating. Until the West understands the inherent conceptual defects of the ICC and the consequent real-world risks of its actions, we can, unfortunately, simply expect more tragedy like this in the future.

Mr. Bolton is former U.S. ambassador to the United Nation.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do understand the Bolton is the FORMER ambassador to the UN? Not the current one? And that he is moreoever widely discredited in US policy circles and has no influence whatsoever over the current Administration?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009  
Blogger Ingrid Jones said...

Thanks. I was aware that John Bolton worked within the Bush administration and did think it odd that he would sign himself as US ambassador to the United Nation. It looks as though the website has corrected Mr Bolton's opinion piece - the last line now reads: Mr. Bolton is former U.S. ambassador to the United Nation. I have amended the copy at Sudan Watch accordingly but not added the missing letter 's' in the word Nation.

It seems to me that John Bolton and the savedarfurcrowd (not to mention Eric Reeves and Nicholas Kristof et al) think alike when it comes to the Darfur rebellion.

Take a look at the video clips of US VP Joe Biden's stance on Darfur over the years - and see the bombastic response by Susan Rice on March 20, 2009 at UN Security Council meeting (link to webcast is in yesterday's post at Sudan Watch)

Recent news reports on Sudan coming out of the US suggest that John Bolton is far from alone in thinking the way he does about the Sudan crisis.

The savedarfurcrowd have got Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton sewn up when it comes to Darfur because of the pledges they made during their bid for the White House.

Going by a recent news report (filed at Sudan Watch) it would appear that President Obama actually referred to Darfur as genocide. Since when was Darfur declared genocide?

The ICC's panel of judges rejected the prosecutor's charge of genocide against Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir. Prosecutor Ocampo has lodged an appeal against the decision.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009  

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