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American hegemony does not justify its ICC decision

The editorial in The Chronicle Wednesday deeply saddened me. By supporting the current refusal of the United States' to join the International Criminal Court, The Chronicle has overlooked several points.

At a time when the United States--and the West in general--needs to improve its image, The Chronicle's polemic over the ICC's jurisdiction is inappropriate. Implying that the United States is the only country that defends values such as tolerance, justice and freedom is also quite pretentious. The United States today stands as the world hegemon--a great role which encompasses a rough, yet historical mission to take care of the world. This mission is one that the United States should not take on all by itself, and it is true that, so far, America's allies have not always given enough support to the United States.

Nevertheless, American supremacy should not justify blind and stubborn unilateralism. It is also true that without American participation, the ICC could lose its legitimacy and its power. Beyond creating a mere diplomatic crisis, the absence of the United States from the birth of the ICC will discredit the very notion of international justice and may lead to a global authority vacuum. An exception for America from the court's prosecution might provide a symbolic precedent to nations, groups or persons wanting to escape the rule of justice, which the United States actually supports.

It is true that the court should not be used as a political weapon against the United States. But Europe's role will probably be to assure the ICC does not put the United States or anybody else on trial unfairly. In fact, it is essential that the first power on the planet leads by example and recognizes the ICC's jurisdiction. For if every nation effectively has the right to remain sovereign, it is also true that no nation is above the law, not even America.

Antoine Artiganave

Trinity '05


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