''September 2023. Barack Obama stands with his head bowed. For four long years he has been on trial in The Hague, and today the verdict is being announced: ''Guilty!'' Five years after Interpol arrested the ex-president in a surprise operation, the judges have convicted him for 1,700 counts of murder - the number of people illegally killed during his presidency.
Obviously, this is a fictional scenario. After all, the US has never signed the statute of the International Criminal Court in The Hague and, therefore, does not recognise its authority. But why has the US flat-out refused to acknowledge an institution designed to prosecute genocide and war crimes?
It's a question that no one in America's political elite would dare ask, because it puts all of them in an uncomfortable position. Not only would Obama have to answer for his actions in The Hague, but so would his predecessor George W Bush, the Secretary of State, the US Attorney General, the drone pilots and even the lowliest soldier - in short, anyone who (follows orders) has violated international law.
Experts in legal circles have long speculated that former US president George W Bush and his gung-ho defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld rarely ventured outside the country for fear of arrest. Similarly, in theory, a criminal prosecution is straightforward in Obama's case: its all there in black and white because he signed the CIA's ''kill lists'' that the drone pilots then worked their way through.
A US president and recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize gave orders for targeted assassinations?
What seemed unimaginable when he accepted the Nobel award seven years ago has become so normal today that no one even questions it. ''Extrajudicial killing'' is the name given to this type of political murder. As the term implies, it means the US is flouting international law. Mary Ellen O'Connel, from the University of Notre Dame, explains why she thinks the drone killings are unlawful. ''CIA personnel are not trained in the law of armed conflict,'' she says. 'They are not part of a chain of command; they are not subject to a system of accountability for battlefield conduct, and they wear no uniform or insignia.'' This is true whether or not the US recognises the authority of the International Criminal Court.
However, even Obama's staunchest political opponents in America stick to a strict protocol: don't ask, don't tell.''
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