A Giant Step Towards Declaring American Soldiers War Criminals | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

ACLJ Profile Completion

Verified

American Soldiers War Criminals?

By David French1427992131212

Yesterday, the International Criminal Court “welcomed” Palestine as a “State Party” to the Rome Statute, the international treaty governing the ICC. Most of the coverage focused on the implications for Israel, as the PA has declared its intentions to file complaints against Israel for its conduct in the 2014 Gaza conflict. A non-ideological ICC would laugh these claims out of court on a number of grounds — including that Israel goes far beyond the historic requirements of the Law of Armed Conflict in its concern for minimizing civilian casualties and because it has its own robust means of investigating and punishing alleged war crimes. A non-ideological ICC would focus on Hamas’s consistent intentional war crimes, including deliberately targeting civilians, its use of civilians and civilian buildings to shield its own military activities, and its refusal to fight in uniforms or other distinctive insignia to help distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. The list could go on. For Hamas, war crimes represent the totality of their military strategy.

But it would be a profound mistake for Americans (or the Obama administration and successor administrations) to believe that ICC proceedings are relevant only to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. If the ICC prosecutes Israelis, it will establish legal precedents that can then be wielded against Americans. Though the U.S. does not formally subject itself to ICC jurisdiction, a key State Department official has said that the U.S. respects the “object and purpose” of the Statute, and other State Parties could treat U.S. soldiers as international criminals. Moreover, negative legal precedents would purport to establish new standards for the Law of Armed Conflict that military and political leaders would likely impose against American forces in the field — limiting our freedom of action and costing more lives.

And why would legal findings against Israelis implicate Americans? Because – as I’ve said before – Israel often imposes stricter rules of engagement on its own forces than our government imposes on American troops. I know this from first-hand experience. If Israeli commanders (and their advising military lawyers) are war criminals for executing strikes in civilian areas against terrorists fighting amongst civilians, then I’m a war criminal. Then thousands of Americans are war criminals. Is it illegal for Israel to strike Hamas in Gaza –destroying civilian buildings and killing civilians — but lawful for America to strike the Islamic State in Syria – also destroying civilian buildings and killing civilians?

As much as the Obama administration loves to isolate, pressure, and shame our closest Middle East ally, it can’t avoid the reality of a connected world — including the influence of international legal precedent on American military doctrine and American military personnel. A legal attack on Israeli tactics is, ultimately, a legal attack on American tactics, and the administration must respond accordingly.

This article is crossposted on National Review.

You Cannot Bully Israel at the U.N.

Israel  Signatures

LOGIN

Receive the latest news, updates, and contribution opportunities from ACLJ.

$20
$40
$60
$120
$240
Make this a monthly tax-deductible gift.

We're taking direct action, sending a critical legal letter to defend Israel. Stand with us. Have your tax-deductible gift doubled today. Have your gift doubled through our Matching Challenge.

Email Address is required.
First Name is required.
Last Name is required.
Credit Card Number is required.
Verification Code is required.
Expiration Month is required.
Expiration Year is required.
Receive the latest news, updates, and contribution opportunities from ACLJ.
Encourage your friends to sign and donate by sharing this petition.
Latest in
Constitution

U.S. Senate Confirms 200th Federal Judge Under Trump Presidency

By David Fonseca1593694800000

At the ACLJ, we have been periodically updating you on the work the U.S. Senate has been doing to confirm judges at quite a rapid pace . Last week, upon confirming Judge Cory Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by a tight vote of 52-48, the Senate reached a judicial milestone...

read more

Radio Recap – BREAKING: Flynn Judge ORDERED to Drop Case

By Jordan Sekulow1593034383366

The Flynn judge in the district court has been ordered to drop the case. On today’s Jay Sekulow Live , we discussed the breaking news that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the Flynn judge to drop the case. This is a full vindication of Lt. General Michael Flynn. The General Flynn case...

read more

JSL – What Comes Next in the Michael Flynn Saga

By Jordan Sekulow1592254669193

The ACLJ’s team provided legal analysis on the state of General Flynn’s case. On today’s Jay Sekulow Live, our team provided exclusive analysis of Friday’s oral arguments in the General Flynn case. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from General Flynn’s attorney, a DOJ official...

read more

Radio Recap – In a Bizarre Move, Flynn Judge Lawyers Up

By Jordan Sekulow1590528315633

In a bizarre move , the judge in the General Flynn case has lawyered up. On today’s Jay Sekulow Live we discussed the latest bizarre move made by the judge in the Flynn case. Judge Sullivan has hired an attorney to represent him in responding to the D.C. Court of Appeals demand that he respond to...

read more