US Administration Suspends Aid to Nations that Refuse to Shield Americans from W
Date: Saturday, January 07 2006
Bush Administration Suspends Aid to Nations that Refuse to Shield Americans from War-Crimes Court
By Letta Tayler
October 17, 2004
Translucent and beguiling, the Caribbean waters that surround this speck of a tropical island [Roseau, Dominica] define tranquility. And therein lies the problem. Gone are the Dominican Coast Guard vessels that used to prowl the coast, stalking drug traffickers who whiz toward the United States in boats filled with cocaine. They've been grounded, victims of a spat over an international war-crimes court that has prompted Washington to withhold millions of dollars in aid over the past year from allies around the globe. "The drug dealers feel they have free passage because we're not out patrolling," said Sgt. Eric Elizee, the Coast Guard commander, as he stared at his idled boats. With no money to fuel and repair the fleet, he said, "we just sit here and pray."
Dominica is not alone. A Bush administration policy of suspending military aid to nations that won't promise to shield Americans from the war-crimes tribunal, called the International Criminal Court, is reducing or canceling dozens of programs that further U.S. interests abroad, Newsday has found.
Among numerous examples, Croatia lost $5.8 million that was earmarked primarily for training troops - a process that would aid its entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Tanzania lost $450,000 to bolster security, even though it was the site of a deadly U.S. Embassy bombing in 1998. Elsewhere in Africa, Washington withheld more than $7 million from South Africa, $500,000 from Benin and $250,000 from Mali - funds earmarked for "strengthening regional stability" and decreasing reliance on U.S. peacekeepers. Ecuador, a key ally in the U.S. war on drugs, lost $15.7 million, much of it for military equipment that could help detect narco-traffickers on its border with Colombia, the primary source of cocaine entering the United States.
The war-crimes court, which opened two years ago in The Hague, Netherlands, with strong support from the United Nations, is the first permanent international body to try individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. It aims to prosecute cases when nations can't or won't do so themselves.
U.S. officials say Americans must be shielded from the court because rogue nations could use it to launch politically motivated lawsuits against the United States. "Unaccountable judges, prosecutors, could pull our troops, our diplomats up for trial," President George W. Bush said of the court during his first debate with Democratic contender John Kerry, who supports the tribunal. Returning unprompted to the topic in his second debate with Kerry, Bush acknowledged Washington was at odds with some nations over the court, but insisted: "Sometimes in this world you make unpopular decisions because you think they're right." Kerry did not respond on either occasion.