David Rieff Considers Justice in Sudan

David Rieff (born 1952, in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American nonfiction writer and policy analyst. His books have focused on issues of immigration, international conflict, and humanitarianism. He has published numerous articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, El Pais, The New Republic, World Affairs, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs, The Nation, and other publications.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: Will the ICC ruling bring al-Bashir down?

Rieff:    No, I expect this to destroy the… I think this is given… You know, be careful what you wish for is perhaps the best reaction I could have or the most synch reaction I could have.  I think that the fantasy of international justice has been exposed for the cruel joke it is by the indictment of General Bashir.  The fantasy was that even though this international court had no state behind it… It was a court based on an international treaty.  That is a treaty between sovereign states.  And even though this court had no army or police force, that somehow the authority of this court was such that it would bring a new world of international justice.  Well, didn’t turn out that way.  The one concrete result of the indictment of President Bashir has been the expulsion of the humanitarian agencies, from the ground and… or for… or many of the 13 of the main agencies.  Interestingly enough, given the fact that everyone associates General Bashir with Islamic fundamentalism and a lot of the [saved movement], in my view, has been inspired by a certain Islamaphobia.  The fact of the matter is that one of the main groups still on the ground is the evangelical relief group, World Vision, just not been expelled interestingly.  The… We see that Bashir has defied the court successfully, he’s gone to Somalia, he’s gone to Egypt, and he’s gone to Doha in the last 3 weeks.  This fantasy of international justice was wishful thinking.  I mean, as the great 18th century German aphorist Lichtenberg, said, “A handful of soldiers is always worth more than a mouthful of arguments.”  And I don’t… I don’t think it [bear] very well.  Mind you, I was always very skeptical about the court so I’m hardly changing my position.  I think it’s a court of dreams.  I don’t… I think, the fact that… I think, indicting only people from the global south, you know, creates in the minds of many people in the developing world and the poor world.  The idea that this is just a flag of convenience for more Western hegemony, I think that was always the problem with the court. That no one ever figured out a way to get around that.  And… Even if that… I’m perfectly willing to accept that that wasn’t the motivation of the people interested in the court but that’s the way it looks.  I mean, you’ll never see an American general or a Chinese general or a British general or French general or Russian general in the court.  You will see people from the Sierra Leone and the democratic republic of Congo and General Bashir. In other words, weak monsters get to be indicted by the International Criminal Court.  That’s really not justice in anyway that’s likely compel a lot of allegiance from people globally.


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