Forbear to judge us, for U.S is the worst sinner
Posted on January 10th, 2014

Dr Kamal Wickremasinghe

We are in the middle of yet another visit by a US government official, Stephen J. Rapp, an Obama political appointee apparently supervising the unusual US version of “Global Criminal Justice”. The grandiose description of Rapp as an “ambassador-at-large”, appears to have been designed by the US state department – who seem to take it for granted that they are ruling a global empire – to exude an air of almost UN-like legitimate authority. But Rapp is just a US government agent who has no legitimate powers to seek information on the Sri Lankan government’s handling of war-related or reconciliation matters.

The so-called “Office of Global Criminal Justice” Rapp represents is an internal administrative unit within the US State Department that is supposed to advise the US Secretary of State and others on their countries’ responses to alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity, accountability for mass atrocities and genocide ‘by other countries’.

The world will have ‘no beef’ with Rapp’s job within their own government arrangements, to the extent that he does not try to peer in to the internal affairs of sovereign countries, pretending to have some kind of imprimatur to conduct such investigations globally. Also, Rapp’s job description of coordinating the US diplomatic, economic, military, and intelligence tools to “help expose the truth” about war crimes and accountability ” appears to have been included for the provision of comic relief to the world, considering the disgraceful, hidden US record of war crimes in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq alone.

Anti-Sri Lankan forces

It is no secret that Rapp is here to serve the plan of his neocon masters to table an anti-Sri Lankan resolution at the UNHRC in March by gathering ‘dirt’ from anti-Sri Lankan forces within the country.

It is natural that most Sri Lankans are scornful about Rapp’s visit to our shores with the air of a Viceroy intending to launch an investigation in a colony – it is clear that Rapp and his neocon masters stubbornly refuse to believe that the world rejects their self-proclaimed authority to manage world affairs, least of all to make allegations of war crimes on other countries, due to the gaping ‘moral deficit’ between their own words and deeds.

The timing of Rapp’s intrusion in particular – during the crucial period leading up to the March UNHRC gatherings in Geneva where the US and UK have threatened us of unfriendly ‘action’ against us – has led many Sri Lankans to suspect that the real purpose of his visit is to search of ‘dirt’ from increasingly desperate opponents of the government.

Protesters outside the US embassy in Colombo.
Pictures by Thushara Fernando

Rapp would have heard echoes the results of USAID financed projects in Sri Lanka at many interesting “working dinners” the US embassy had organised for him – with people such as M. A. Sumanthiran, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, J. C. Weliamuna and others – by way of worn-out phrases like the rule of law, freedom of expression and freedom of civil society to operate etc.

In the meantime, Sri Lankans are asking the perfectly legitimate and logical question as to how a foreign official dares to enter their country with the stated objective of “meeting with a broad cross section of government officials and political and civil society leaders on a range of issues focusing on Sri Lanka’s justice, accountability, and reconciliation processes.” Their anger is based not only on the surreptitious methods the US embassy in Colombo has used to organise meetings with dubious NGOs and opponents of the government for Rapp, but the underlying lack of legitimacy of his visit.

Rapp cannot seriously expect the people and the government of Sri Lanka to treat his mission seriously, in view of the extremely shoddy credentials of his own country on war crimes and crimes against humanity. Adding to Rapp’s lack of credibility is the scandalous history of his country, and himself in his official capacity, to undermine the attempts of the genuine “international community” to establish a global mechanism to address alleged war related crimes through the International Criminal Court (ICC).

A disgraceful history of US undermining of global efforts to address war crimes

The disgraceful US reaction to thwart international action on war crimes goes back to the five-week diplomatic conference in Rome convened by the UN General Assembly 1998 June, aimed at establishing the ICC, following years of negotiations. The US showed its all-too-familiar duplicity and hypocrisy on crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide at the meeting, by voting against it in the 120 to 7 result.

The US under Bill Clinton, stood out among the seven countries as failing to match their powerful rhetoric on democracy and global justice with the deed of instituting international action on illegal transgressions. The spurious arguments they threw against the ICC’s statute, accountability, and jurisdiction drew derision from the international community.

In 2000, in a policy performance akin to his public admission of marijuana smoking without inhalation, Bill Clinton signed the treaty, but indicating that he would not recommend that his successor George W. Bush submit it for Senate ratification. The ploy was designed to prevent a legally binding commitment. After the Rome Statute reached the requisite 60 ratifications in 2002, the Bush administration informed the UN that the US no longer intended to become party to the Rome Statute, renouncing all legal obligations.

US military personnel

Neocon objections to an ICC did not stop there – in 2002, Congress passed an Act – dubbed the “Hague Invasion Act” by the international community – permitting the president to authorise military force to free any US military personnel held by the ICC. They also made “Bilateral Immunity Agreements” with a number of countries, prohibiting the surrender to the ICC of current or former government officials, military personnel, and US employees (including foreign contractors).

In addition, the US threatened to veto the renewal of all UN peacekeeping missions unless its troops were granted immunity from prosecution by the ICC. It was only after the pictures of US troops abusing Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib emerged in 2004, that the demand was withdrawn.

Rapp devises a novel way

Our self-appointed ‘investigator’ Steven J. Rapp was the architect of a typically deceptive US policy under the Obama administration. The Obama policy is one of “intent to cooperate” with the ICC “without participation” is typically hypocritical in that it is designed to give the world the appearance of the US being ‘genuinely concerned’ about war crimes of other countries, without subjecting themselves for ICC scrutiny – Rapp who put together the policy elaborated in a media conference in 2009 that he would find “creative ways” to cooperate with the ICC.

Rappe also attempted to wipe the record of Bush Jr. clean by pointing out that the Bush administration supported trials for Rwanda, East Timor and the indictment of Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, (null and void due to Sudan is not a signatory to the Rome Statute). Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, in her first address to the Security Council, expressed US support for the Court’s investigation in Sudan. They also offered to “assist” the ICC investigation and prosecution of leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of Uganda. But no signing or ratification of the Statute of Rome!

Clandestine activities

Rapp led a US delegation to an ICC annual conference in The Hague for the first time, as an observer. In an astonishing display of his apparent treatment of the US as the centre of the universe, he stated – “there’s nothing in (the US) law that prevented the US from dealing with Charles Taylor of Liberia, or Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia with heinous crimes”. Strange logic indeed!

The current US position on the ICC is ridiculous to say the least – while their law prohibits any financial dispensation to the ICC, Congress has enabled payments up to $5 million for “information” leading to the arrests of fugitives in atrocity. They have also undertaken to publicise lists of names of the court’s wanted fugitives in their home countries and other clandestine activities such as witness protection, providing DNA data and forensic assistance. It is clear that all such measures are based on vested interests rather than on genuine concerns about war crimes.

Rapp’s interest in war crimes is part of neocon political manoeuvring

As of December 2013, 122 sovereign states have signed and ratified the Rome Statute that established the ICC, and 31 more countries have signed and not ratified. The global self-appointed policeman against war crimes is still not on the list of signatories!

The reasons are obvious – the US does not want to be held accountable at the ICC to countless war crimes they have committed globally. They continue to hide behind bogus domestic constitutional issues and contrived legal grounds to avoid coming under a universal code of conduct under the purview of the ICC. They even invoke violation of US national sovereignty as an objection against ICC participation, strangely for a country that tries to interfere with the sovereignty of other countries on a daily basis.

During the last ICC Review Conference in Uganda in 2010 – that gave it a positive bill of health – the US pursued its own agenda by “pledging to build the legal capacity of individual countries to prosecute atrocity crimes themselves”, clearly aimed at undermining the ICC. They co-sponsored a side event with Norway on building the capacity of the judicial system of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to address war crimes.

The US also picked a quarrel with the ICC on amendments to the definition of “the crime of aggression” forcing the attachment of “a set of detailed understandings to the resolution adopting the amendments”. Under the US amendment the ICC will be unable to prosecute individuals of a non-state party (read NGO) and second, state- parties (read the US) will have the opportunity to opt-out of aggression jurisdiction if they so wish.”

Currently there is bipartisan consensus in the US that they do not intend to ratify the Rome Statute. They also continue to undermine the ICC under the policy put together by Rapp, while assisting the ICC on pursuing their ideological and political opponents on their terms.

War crimes

It is clear that the US interest on alleged war crimes and other atrocities by other countries, without being a member of the Statute of Rome, is aimed at extending its tentacles to other countries’ affairs for political reasons. But the deception is bound to unravel – a true test of US support for the ICC will come when the Palestinians lodge their first case against Israeli war crimes in Gaza, and others on Iraq and Afghanistan, including the treatment of prisoners during the “war on terror”.

Sri Lanka, as a non-signatory state to the Rome Statute for its own valid reasons,” is not answerable to the ICC. Rapp has no legal grounds to pursue Sri Lanka on allegations made by the Tiger-friendly TNA, the US paid NGOs, without a valid sanction, such as of the UN Security Council. He is welcome to test his luck at the UN Security Council. The threatened resolution in Geneva will be a lot of ‘noise and smoke’ for the same reason.

The bottom line is the US has no moral standing that allows them to make allegations of war crimes against other countries, or to attempt politically motivated “investigations” on such baseless allegations. If they are genuine, they could start by signing and ratifying the Statute of Rome and subjecting themselves to ICC trials of the illegal wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and its treatment of prisoners.

On the eve of his departure from our sunny shores to the frozen “hell” of Washington soon, we can only recommend that Stephen J. Rapp get familiar with the Ode by Ralph Waldo Emerson probably the only American ever who got close to becoming a philosopher –

“United States! The ages plead – Present and past in under-song,

Go put your creed into your deed – Nor speak with double tongue”. 

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7 Responses to “Forbear to judge us, for U.S is the worst sinner”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    USA must be punished for its war crimes around the world.

    At the same time we must ACCEPT our stupidity too.

    Sympathy and compassion have NO PLACE in diplomacy.
    MIGHT is right. As long as SL is weak it will remain WRONG.

    1. USA recommended SL to buy cluster bombs and use them against LTTE in 2002. A VERY GOOD suggestion. We should have though it in 1999 which would have SAVED operation JAYASIGGURU.

    2. USA war crimes Rapp said SL should have prosecuted 14,000 LTTE TERRORISTS for war crimes instead of rehabilitating and releasing them!! 100% true. We HORBORED LTTE war criminals which is a crime.

    3. “A senior Defence Ministry official told The Island that the government had decided to release, after rehabilitation, the vast majority of those who had surrendered or been captured on the Vanni front or arrested in the South in a bid to reassure the Tamils.

    Risking national security to “reassure Tamils”. What madness.

    4. NPC chief minster and councilor Ananthi met Rapp and told them WAR CRIMES BS. We gave them importance. She was just a dead terrorist’s wife. USA maintains they DON’T talk to terrorists. But we washed this terrorist clean and made her a councilor!!

    5. Kasippu Joseph has given the LONGEST LIST of war crimes BS against SL. He is ABOVE THE LAW. Never gets punished for violating the PTA or 6 amendment.

    We have only ourselves to blame for the damn foolish things we have done and not done when we COULD.

    Trying to appease Tamils landed us in this MESS. Now where are the Tamils? Do they come to our rescue as a TOKEN of gratitude? DAMN NO!

  2. Nanda Says:

    “Sympathy and compassion have NO PLACE in diplomacy.
    MIGHT is right. As long as SL is weak it will remain WRONG”

    well this is the western philosophy and real way of working in the western world. As long as within the LAW you can do any “uncivilized” activity and remain “civilized”. We must work according to this philosophy, if we are to have move in good terms with the westerners ( unless kick the bastards out and get Asian help 100%).
    It, however, is not necessarily the TRUTH.

    In the first place our government behave like hooligans. No other country in the “civilized” world behave this way.

    Look at honestly
    Our police (80%)
    Our politikkos (110%)
    Our government authorities ( 80%)

    are all thieves , stealing “something ” for living.

    Under this system our
    Rehabilitation of terrorist
    Release of Land for Tamils

    even though honest and 100% truth , how can we expect western world to trust ?

  3. Nanda Says:

    Our leader had 5 years now to correct this. He got the opportunity, like JR in 1977.
    What did he do ?

  4. Lorenzo Says:


    How can we?

    MR is now a Colombian and the PM is also a Colombian (in a different sense)!!

  5. aloy Says:

    I exchanged emails with a popular freelance writer in 2010 regarding what would happen. Today he is an editor of well read news paper. We have got what we deserved. Thanks to the Colonials we remained a Buddhist country until we got independence. Less than sixty years after, Colombo is a non Sinhala speaking capital. If the present set of politicians (of all hues) rule, within the next 30 to 40 years Sinhalas will lose everything including their religion; their greed knows no bounds and money comes first. Remember South Korea was also a very corrupt Buddhist Country. Today it is a Christian country and it happened within a very short time. Could someone sing a lullaby to Mahanayakas?.

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    Absolutely Aloy.

    This cannot go on like this. Arabs springs, revolutions and BS is OUT of question. Those are only for fools.

    A military take over is the ONLY option.

    UPFA or UNP any govt. is controlled by TNA, CWC and SLMC.

  7. Ratanapala Says:

    The two Mahanayakes are next to useless to the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. They are no better than two kapuralas. Their only seen expertise in tying Pirith Noolas on visiting dignitaries.

    They are not defending the rights of Buddhists in Sri Lanka. They are not erudite preachers who can advance the cause of Buddhism either. We have never heard them give a single Buddhist sermon even once a year. They are just two wealthy land owners only who use their position to make their kith and kin wealthy.

    They have no policy positions on what is happening in Sri Lanka nor to the Buddha Sasana. They have vacillating political affiliations to political parties that suit only their personal whims and fancies. None of the two are a patch on the likes of Most Ven Madihe Pannaseeha Mahanayake Thero nor on Soma Hamuduruwo who fought for the Sinhala Buddhist rights and there by galvanised the Buddhist public on their rights and obligations. In short they are a shame on the exalted positions they occupy.

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