Tags: obama | world | court

Obama Warms Up to Joining World Court

Thursday, 30 Apr 2009 01:41 PM

By Dan Weil

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The Obama administration will probably shift to a more accepting approach toward the International Criminal Court (ICC) within a few months, according to The Washington Times.

But the U.S. is unlikely to join the court anytime soon.

President Clinton signed the treaty establishing the court in 2000. But Congress never ratified membership, and the signature was suspended by the Bush administration. It was worried that the ICC might come after U.S. soldiers and officials for political reasons.

Obama will probably approve the U.S. signature, diplomats and other experts tell The Times, though it’s not a slam dunk.

"We want to be very careful and cautious and make sure that we've looked at all potential ways that joining the ICC could affect our troops around the world," a senior U.S. official tells The Times.

Even if Obama affirms the U.S. signature, the U.S. is unlikely to join the ICC anytime soon.

The administration would need approval from two-thirds of the Senate – 67 Senators.

And even after the defection of Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter to the Democratic side and assuming the election of Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, Democrats only hold 60 seats in the body.

Some question whether Obama really even wants to join the ICC.

Kim Holmes, vice president for foreign- and defense-policy studies at the Heritage Foundation, tells The Times that approval of the signature "would be a mere gesture."

He says, “Despite the Democratic majority in the Senate, it would still not get two-thirds for ratification if submitted for advice and consent. The Obama administration knows this.”

So, “Reaffirming would be a typical half-step gesture to mollify his base without actually having to follow through with the full measure," Holmes says.

Whatever Obama decides to do, many are unimpressed with the court’s achievements.

“At best, the ICC is a toothless organization; at worst, it is a dangerous bureaucracy that will undermine peace by subjecting Americans to international prosecution,” Brett Joshpe, general counsel of The American Civics Exchange, writes on Newsmax.com.

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