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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Tiny Belgium Makes Big Mistake

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Author Topic: Tiny Belgium Makes Big Mistake
WmLambert
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Yes, Belgium, the home country to NATO, has decided it's national court system will reach out and uncompass all others. They wnat to indict General Tommy Franks for war crimes. In response, they lose our backing financially for their New NATO headquarters. For all those who argued the ICC was a good thing for the US to become involved with, you now have more evidence of what such a move would look like.
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Storm Saxon
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It will be really interesting to see if some ICC signatories will hold the US renegades for 'justice' should they come within that country's jurisdiction.

[ June 24, 2003, 07:41 PM: Message edited by: Storm Saxon ]

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Gaoics79
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They don't have the guts.
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Zyne
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You see, size DOES matter. And crossing the US is a mistake. Tsk!
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nemes_ie
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My two cents:

Is Gen Franks guilty of war crimes? If so, he should be held acountable to someone. Assuming these crimes were committed outside the US, then why not an international court?

If not, then why not try him anyway and have him acquitted? This should solve the problem, make him look very good, and show willing on the part of the US to use international bodies, thus removing a lot of the ignorant support from anti-US commentators.

Just a thought... [Smile]

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KnightEnder
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I read yesterday that Belgium has changed some aspects of that law. No longer will people be able to bring charges against foreign officials. They say it is because there have been a lot of frivolous charges filed. Although, funding the new HQ probably had something to do with it.

Knight Ender

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Adjudicator
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Their are a couple of problems with allowing any high-profile American leader to stand trial

1- merely agreeing to stand trial lends credence to an institution which deserves none.

2- any trial would be all about politics and have very little to do with the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

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seagull
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For those of you who are not aware of it, Belgium has tried the same thing with both Ariel Sharon (Israel's prime minister) and the Israeli ambassador to Belgium. Any of you who have any doubt whether this is about justice or politics should note that while they go after Sharon for his INDIRECT responsibility for war crimes commited by others they refuse to go after Yasser Arafat for his DIRECT responsibility for terrorism and murder.

That is what's wrong with letting him stand trial and be found innocent?
The credibility of that court is lower than zero!

This farce has been going on far too long. I am glad they finally made the "mistake" of taking on someone big enough that they'll actually get the contempt they so much deserve. I guess "justice" (one of the attributes of God) works in mysterious ways [Wink]

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KnightEnder
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Okay, I found the article I read. According to this Belgium is changing the law so it only encompasses Belgium citizens or those with some link to that country. There was also a caveat that it could be used in countries that have no decent judicial system. Belgium to change law

KE

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nemes_ie
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I wasn't aware that Belgium had dodgy courts.

The point still stands; I'm not saying that any particular institution currently existing should be used, but that there is nothing inherently wrong with the principle of an international court on reasonably agreed grounds (yes, I know agreeing would be hard, but is that a reason not to try?).

On a nitpicking point of logic, it is impossible to prove that someone didn't do something, only to prove that they did. Thus the phrase "acquitted" rather than "found innocent"

GS

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msquared
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I can prove I didn't do something quite easily.

msquared

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Colin JM0397
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Main problem the US has - not sure about other countries - is it's technically illegal for us to recognize any authority higher than our own (Constitution).

If we were to sign on, many of us will see it as a subversion of our national sovereignty, a trampling of our guaranteed rights, and the one world government types initial push to bring us under some sort of outside control.

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Elimis
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The idea of international courts is difficult for me.

I love the idea of certain crimes that are "against humanity" and agree that all countries have a right to defend them.

However, as an Israeli citizen (or american citizen etc) I get certain rights and have certain laws I have to follow. I think the territory gets a little sketchy when someone OTHER than my elected representatives can make laws and try me.

Besides which, I read a bit back from some of the people responsible for the laws in Belgium that this was not at all what they intended, that they intended for these laws to only be applied in countries that don't have the means to judge people themselves.

So, I suppose in effect what I'd like, is to only try non-democracies that refuse to punish people for illegal acts. If a democracy itself tried someone and found him guilty/not guilty, that's enough. (For example Sharon was already "punished" for his acts in '82. Why should another country be allowed to try him again?)

Elimis

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seagull
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I just ran across this link and thought some of you may appreciate the irony:
http://www.jcpa.org/art/brief1-17.htm

quote:
Sabra and Shatilla was a horrible massacre, which certain determined groups in the international community are trying to link directly to Israel, despite the conclusions of the Kahane Commission. Notably, the other attacks against innocent Lebanese civilians that punctuated Lebanon's civil war have been ignored. In just one example, on January 21, 1976, the PLO was directly responsible for the slaughter of 260 Christian residents in the Lebanese town of Damour. The selective focus on Israel, which had no direct responsibility for Sabra and Shatilla, indicates that this initiative in the Belgian courts is motivated largely by political concerns rather than by considerations of international justice.

The singling out of Israel appears to be particularly blatant when other instances of more recent attacks on civilians in armed conflicts are examined. In July 1995, a Bosnian Serb Army unit slaughtered nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica; a Dutch UN battalion, part of the UNPROFOR peacekeeping force, failed to take minimal measures to protect the Bosnian Muslims. UNPROFOR was under a French officer.

While the killings went on for weeks, no adequate response was adopted by those with operational responsibility to immediately terminate the attacks. Yet no European state (or the UN) faulted the ministerial level in the Netherlands, France, or in UN headquarters with respect to the Srebrenica case (Manfred Gerstenfeld, "Srebrenica: The Dutch Sabra and Shatilla," Jerusalem Viewpoints, No. 458, July 15, 2001). No state suggested a doctrine of "indirect responsibility," as did Israel. Clearly, Israel held itself to a much higher standard in 1982-83 than many other international bodies have held themselves since.



[ July 02, 2003, 01:49 AM: Message edited by: seagull ]

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Gaoics79
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"The point still stands; I'm not saying that any particular institution currently existing should be used, but that there is nothing inherently wrong with the principle of an international court on reasonably agreed grounds (yes, I know agreeing would be hard, but is that a reason not to try?)."

As long as countries like Belgium are in the grip of fanatically anti-American/anti-Israel politics then their "human rights" court will be a farce. As someone mentioned earlier, this all happened simply because Belgium bit off more than it could chew when it ambitiously chose an American target. But the fact that they backed off this time doesn't mean that the leftist anti-American scum in charge aren't still salivating at the chance to put some high ranking American official on trial for "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity". It's institutions like this that have cheapened those words to the point where they have very little meaning left.

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nemes_ie
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Jasonr

With respect, I don't see how your last post refutes/clarifies my comment (quoted by you) in the slightest way. Would you care to elaborate? I'm not trying to be confrontational here, just trying to see where you're coming from!

G

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KnightEnder
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I read that they do still intend to go ahead with prosecuting Fidel Castro. The justification being that some ex-Cubans now live in Belgium. This seems ridiculous to me. How hard would it be to get one person that has preferred charges against President Bush to take up residence in Belgium? It might be time consuming but I'm sure it could/would be done for something so important.

KE

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Gaoics79
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"With respect, I don't see how your last post refutes/clarifies my comment (quoted by you) in the slightest way. Would you care to elaborate? I'm not trying to be confrontational here, just trying to see where you're coming from!"

Oh, sorry. I didn't read your post closely enough. You're right, there is nothing wrong with an international court created on reasonably agreed grounds. However, it must be fair and equitable. (That means actually interested in truth, rather than political agendas and vendettas) The Belgian court has no chance of being fair, and should therefore be completely ignored as the sham that it is.

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nemes_ie
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Given. Thanks for the response.

Broadly, I'm generally in favour of international bodies working to agreed norms and standards. The argument about loss of soverignity is, in my view, a red herring. All government by anyone apart from yourself involves a loss of soverignity; as an example, my country (Ireland) needed higher interest rates about 5 years ago to slow our overheating economy, but we had to suffer through low interest rates designed to assist Germany, Italy and, to a lesser extent, France. This is part of living in the EU. However, it would seem to apply on a smaller (sub-national)level a well; didn't the Massachussets (is that spelt right??) area experience a boom-bust cycle in the past 10 or 15 years?

I would tend to think that it would not be impossible to agree some basic norm (no genocide, no chemical weapons on civilian populations, no torture etc) and have a court or other body made up of, say, 9 judges selected at ranom from top judges (eg Supreme Court level) from participating states to try international violators of such norms as might be agreed.

G

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Gaoics79
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The fundamental flaw in the system is that in order to work, it requires that all countries involved have at least a nominal commitment to human rights. Unfortunately, many countries have no such commitment; indeed, many are fundamentally opposed to the very idea of human rights. So you end up with the ludicrous situation of countries that routinely and flagrantly violate human rights setting policy for the human rights court itself. It's the reason a human rights basket case like Saudi Arabia can remain untouched by the court while liberal democracies like the United States and Israel get hammered over and over again. Meanwhile, anti-Americanism in Europe ensures that the court is even more lopsided and biased, so that even the pretense of fairness is evaporated. The United States shouldn't commit a penny to these kind of kangaroo courts. As for Belgium, I don't think they have the guts to actually detain an American citizen, though part of me wishes they'd try, just to see what the Americans would do.
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potemkyn
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quote:
The fundamental flaw in the system is that in order to work, it requires that all countries involved have at least a nominal commitment to human rights.
Or a populace willing to support military action against countries which have violations. Either way, you won't see it until after WW III.

[ July 03, 2003, 11:36 PM: Message edited by: potemkyn ]

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Randy R.
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Yeah, Belgium somehow got the nutty notion that its judicial system has universal jurisdiction. Sounds awfully unilateralist to me.
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ssci
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This most assuredly puts a damper on any plans that General Franks had to retire to Belgium! [Wink]

That being said, I think that the court was a noble concept, but it never had a chance to succeed because there is no way to avoid having it abused.

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