US president Bill Clinton earned plaudits around the world on new year’s eve when he announced that he had signed the International Treaty agreed in Rome in 1998 which set out the parameters for the establishment of a standing International War Crimes Tribunal. His last-minute signature of the treaty – December 31 was the deadline for countries to sign – was greeted with sighs of relief as western liberals and other proponents of a standing international court welcomed the news as a defining moment in their campaign. “President Clinton’s signature makes all the difference,” one campaigner said. “Without the US, the tribunal would have been dead in the water. With US weight behind it, the tribunal will be able to enforce its judgement against the despots and dictators of the world. Finally, for the first time, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be legally and effectively enforceable.”
This reaction – which is not untypical – is remarkable on a number of counts. Firstly, Clinton’s signature does not mean that the US will be bound by the Tribunal, only that it accepts the principles set out in the treaty, and so will be entitled to contribute to the formulation of detailed plans for the Tribunal. Even as he was announcing that he had signed the treaty, Clinton admitted that he was doing so only in order to be able to influence the shape the Tribunal takes, in order to ensure that US interests are protected. Secondly, the US continues to insist on conditions under which it will accept the rulings of the Tribunal in future, the main ones being the US citizens should be effectively immune from prosecution and that the UN Security Council – in which the US can exercise a veto – should have the final say on who is prosecuted and who is not. Thirdly, it takes no account of the fact that many, even most, of the most brutal crimes that are being committed in the world today – one need look only to Palestine, Kashmir and Algeria for examples – are committed either by regimes sponsored and supported by the US to the extent that they are effectively its agents and proxies, or even by the US itself, as in the case of Iraq. And fourthly, it takes no account of the US’s long record of ignoring or manipulating international bodies and institutions in pursuit of its own interests and agendas.
The welcoming of the US’s signature to the treaty by most western liberals is a clear demonstration of their blinkered inability to see the real state of the world, and to recognise the true, malevolent role played by the US and other western states. (The existence in the west of a small number of radical dissidents who do oppose the US should be acknowledged, but they are so marginal as to be irrelevant.) Proponents of a comprehensive world legal order, such as the British human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, whose book Crimes against Humanity: the Struggle for Global Justice is regarded as a manifesto and a blueprint for a world judicial system, seem to be unable to see past the US’s self-proclaimed championship of human rights, despite the ample evidence of its true role marshalled by critics and analysts such as Noam Chomsky.
What is more surprising, perhaps, is the failure even of many Muslims to see through the thin veneer of idealistic rhetoric thrown up by the west to legitimise its self-interested hegemonic rule. The blind and uncritical acceptance of this rhetoric by many Muslim intellectuals is a tribute to the West’s gifts in the fields of deception and brain-washing, and to the ability of humans to ignore and deny realities plainly visible before their eyes. Such uncritical acceptance of all things western is a key symptom of the disease that the Iranian writer Jalal Ale Ahmed called ‘westoxication’ (gharbzadeghi). Ahmed was writing in the 1960s, and his insight contributed considerably to the intellectual understanding that underpinned the Islamic Revolution.
Today, as the West is keenly aware of the threat to its dominance posed by the global Islamic movement, and is working flat out to institutionalise and legitimise its hegemony by the establishment of such bodies as an International War-Crimes Tribunal that can be used against its enemies while permitting its allies to go scot free, Muslims all over the world must be clear on the nature of the West, and the purpose of the international institutions it works through. The first step to reversing this hegemony of satanic kufr is recognising and rejecting the facade behind which it hides and the instruments through which it operates.