The US is promising retaliation after top judges at the International Criminal Court gave the approval to move forward with the first ever war crimes investigation into the conduct of the US military and the CIA in Afghanistan.
The US is now firing back, after top judges at the International Criminal Court gave the green-light to move forward with a war crimes investigation into US conduct in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US does not recognize the ICC’s authority over American citizens, and has no plans to cooperate.
“This is a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body,” Pompeo said. “It’s all the more reckless for this ruling to come just days after the United States signed a historic peace deal on Afghanistan, which is the best chance for peace in a generation.”
Pompeo’s comments follow a decision from ICC appeals judges earlier Thursday, which confirmed that the investigation will target all sides in the conflict, including the US Military and the CIA.
“The Appeals Chamber considers it appropriate to amend the appealed decision to the effect that the prosecutor is authorized to commence an investigation in relation to alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan in the period since 1st May, 2003, as well as other alleged crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan,” the decision stated.
The US invaded Afghanistan less than one month after 9/11 with the promise of defeating the Taliban. And while the Taliban is now stronger than it has been at any point since the war began, members of the ICC have attempted to call attention to the atrocities people in the country have faced throughout the war with an investigation that looks at all sides in the conflict.
Back in 2017, the Office of the Prosecutor claimed it had evidence proving that from 2003 to 2004, members of the US armed forces and members of the CIA “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees.”
Last year, the ICC tried to move forward with an investigation. But the Trump Administration responded by revoking the visa of the ICC’s chief prosecutor after repeated threats from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, claiming Washington would do anything possible to stop the court from investigating the US.
And the threats appeared to work briefly, as judges from the ICC ruled last April that there was no point in moving forward with an investigation if they couldn’t guarantee there would be cooperation. However, that decision has now been overruled.
Pompeo has previously threatened economic sanctions against the International Criminal Court if they do move forward with investigating the US for war crimes, so now it remains to be seen if he will follow through with that threat.
There are likely major concerns about what a potential war crimes investigation could uncover, especially when looking at nearly two decades of war where countless civilians have been killed, injured and displaced at the hands of the US and its allies.
The bombings have also drastically increased in recent years. The United Nations confirmed that in 2018, Afghanistan saw the highest number of civilian casualties in a decades. And in 2019, the US and its allies killed more civilians than the Taliban.
The war in Afghanistan has continued under three administrations, and there have been numerous accusations of corruption—the latest of which came in the form of the Afghanistan Papers. Released late last year, they documented interviews with top military generals who revealed that the US government has been lying about the war for years.
Even though the latest peace agreement promises to bring American troops home, the latest round of bombings from the US raises new questions about whether the longest war in US history will truly come to an end anytime soon.