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They’d better schedule those overseas vacations by @BloggersRUs

They'd better schedule those overseas vacations

by Tom Sullivan


International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands. Photo by Hypergio via Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9 hit theaters this weekend. The phrase "last surviving Nuremberg trials prosecutor" in Dennis Hartley's review last night brought back something we have covered before. But that was in regard to the last Republican administration. The current one now deserves attention.

President George W. Bush seems always to have been a homebody. For a guy who wanted so badly to be president of a superpower, he spent an inordinate amount of time in office at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. He displayed a limited knowledge of world affairs. Still, with the help of more seasoned international hands he managed to launch and not finish wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His "we're an empire now" team intended to plant democracy in the Middle East and reaped chaos instead. The Islamic State was one byproduct.

Perhaps I missed a trip, but it stands out that former globe-trotting world-changers of the George W. Bush administration seem not to have set a toe outside U.S. borders since leaving office. Maybe they just lost all taste for travel to exotic places. But one suspects their involvement in sanctioning international kidnappings, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention of suspected terrorists, deaths of prisoners in captivity, and state torture of prisoners may have something to do with their remaining safely at home. Not that they will ever see the inside of the International Criminal Court, but that wouldn't stop some in the world from using their presence on foreign soil to try. It's just not something that comes up in polite Beltway conversations.

Ben Ferencz is at 99 years-old the last surviving Nuremberg Trials prosecutor. Michael Moore sought him out in making Fahrenheit 11/9 and includes in the film his reaction to the Trump administration's family separation policy at the southern border:

BEN FERENCZ: Taking babies away from their mother and locking up one or the other and separating them—because they did no harm to anybody, they just didn’t comply with the stupid regulations—that’s a crime against humanity, in my judgment.
Moore described their encounters in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!:
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I wanted to go speak to him. I didn’t realize there was only one surviving Nuremberg prosecutor. He lives just outside the city here. He is 99. I think his wife is turning 100 in another month or so. And he is a witness from the past, a witness to what happens when you allow fascism to become the way of life and the law of the land. And he’s very powerful, the things he says in the film. At one point he says that Donald Trump, in doing some of these things that he’s done, is committing crimes against humanity. And he says, “You know, this is—I can’t deal with this, because I’m thinking, you know, we hung people for doing some of these things, for behaving like this.”

And one of the inspirations to make this film was a book I had read back in the 1980s by Bertram Gross called Friendly Fascism. And in the book, Gross says that the fascism of the 21st century will not come with concentration camps and swastikas; it will come with a smiley face and a TV show, that the fascism that will take hold in the 21st century, there won’t be a lot of guns fired, because the population will be brainwashed enough. First they’ll be dumbed down—you know, ruin their schools, reduce their press, put whistleblowers in jail. And then brand things—the smiley face. Don’t use swastikas. Just make it happy. “You’re going to be happier if you go my way, the Trump way.”

Coincidentally, Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton really, really doesn't like the International Criminal Court. Bolton announced in a speech to the Federalist Society ahead of September 11, "The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court." Bolton called the body "ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed outright dangerous." As a member of the Trump administration, one would think Bolton would find those attributes assets. Except for the justice part.

Business Insider's Felipe Bueno writes:

In his speech, Bolton claimed that the court was "already dead to us," and said that the US will use "any means necessary" to protect Americans in response to the court's first-ever public investigation into alleged US war crimes. Last November, the Court's requested to launch an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by US service members and CIA operatives in Afghanistan and the war on terror, especially in secret prisons.

While Bolton has wanted to see the "illegitimate" ICC die on its own for years, he is now uniquely situated to ensure that happens — even if it means an armed invasion of the Hague.

In response to the formal establishment of the ICC in 2002, the Bush administration passed into law the American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, commonly referred to as the 'Hague Invasion Act' by its opposition. Its eerie nickname stems from its vague wording, which allows the US to "take all means necessary and appropriate" to release US personnel being held by the International Criminal Court.

Gen. Wesley K. Clark (retired), a former NATO supreme allied commander, pushed back in the Washington Post against the Trump administration's stance. Clark called for the United States to establish its own “truth commission” to "provide a channel for admitting mistakes where they occurred and providing restitution to victims where it is warranted." The ICC inquiry, Clark writes, "provides us with precisely the means we need to strengthen our security, our American values and our march forward on the right side of history."

Suggesting by omission that he thinks we are on the wrong side of it now. Hague Invasion Act or no, Bush veterans stay close to home.

If America is on a slippery slope, we are already far down it. The Trump administration is turning what was a Bushie ditch into a Trumper excavation about which Moore frets using a different metaphor:

And this is what I find most frightening when I think about, and what I hope this film does in terms of ripping the mask off, what’s really going on here, that we are on—you used the word “precipice” earlier. We are on a precipice. We are on that edge. Democracy has no self-correcting mechanism. It’s a piece of paper, the Constitution. I know we like to get all teary-eyed and all goo-goo about, you know, our wonderful Constitution. It’s a piece of paper. And it’s the human beings in each era that decide exactly what’s going to go on, which part we’re going to listen to and which part we’re not, of this Constitution. And if we get too close to the edge, where we’ve given up too many of our rights, where we’ve allowed the democracy to be whittled down, where we’ve made voting a most difficult thing to do for people who have the right to vote and should be voting—if we do all of that, it could easily fall off that cliff. Before you know it, it could be gone. And you have to operate with that.
That, in the end, is what is at stake both in the outcome of this November's elections and in the GOP's desperate push to ram through Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. AlterNet reporter Matthew Chapman suggests the reason Senate Republicans will not abandon Kavanaugh is that even if the public becomes furious with the GOP over the confirmation process, his presence there could strip voting rights "to the point no one can do anything about it." So get out and vote this fall, won't you, and take your friends?

Meanwhile, Trump, Sessions, et. al. had best get in their foreign junkets now before they are no longer able to unless their destination is Moscow.

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