Romney Now Backs The ICC!

I'm sure Krauthamer/Kristol et al. will be fine with it, because they know it's just a lie made up to appeal to Jewish voters in Florida. But a reader writes:

If there's one snippet from that debate that can serve as a demonstration of how Romney and his team of advisers really aren't ready to exercise stewardship over foreign policy, then perhaps it's his talk about arresting Ahmadinejad for "genocide incitement" to have him tried by the "World Court." This is wrong every which way.

First, there is no international crime of "genocide incitement." There is "genocide" which is much misunderstood and actually refers to something much narrower than what most people think, and which U.S. bipartisan policy has favored using only in rather rarified circumstances. And many civil-law nations have "incitement" statutes, which the U.S. has reflexively opposed because of their use to chill free discourse (think of the First Amendment, under which this "crime" would be an absurdity) – you correctly flagged this in real time (except that it's even worse than you suspected).

Second, his team talk about the "World Court" but it does not exist to handle criminal charges against individuals, but rather, for the most part, claims amongst states.They mean the International Criminal Court – but wait: the G.O.P. has bitterly opposed the ICC ab initio. Now Romney wants to use it?! That's a big policy reversal.

Third, the notion of "arresting" an acting head of state faces all sorts of legal obstacles, starting with immunity notions on which the U.S. is generally pretty keen. If this were an ICC matter, authority to start a probe leading to such an action would pretty much have to come from the Security Council, where it would face an almost certain veto.

Update from a reader:

Your reader is incorrect as regards the crime of 'genocide incitement'.  Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide explicitly confirms that one of four crimes punishable is: "Direct and public incitement to commit genocide". In fact, three Rwandans – none of whom, it must be said, were from the government – were convicted of said crime through the UN International Criminal Tribunal.  One was a publisher of a magazine, while the two others were co-founders of a radio station.

While it is possible, and perhaps probable, that Ahmedinejad would be deemed to be using hate speech, rather than incitement to genocide, given that the criteria requires a call on the audience to take action, that the crime itself exists is undeniable.

Here, Obama also missed an opportunity.  The hypocrisy and glaring irony of Romney stating he would seek to use a UN Convention to indict someone for a crime, when it seems likely he will reinstate the use of torture, isn't lost on me – and it shouldn't have been lost on the President either.