Russia wasted no time using Trump’s election to increase its global power. Yesterday it thrust a masterful spear between Africa and the U.S. by aligning itself with African countries threatening to withdraw from the World Court.
The renegade power’s lightning fast global moves have been reported this morning in Central America, Syria, and of course right here in America, but it is in Africa where Russia may be most successful acting so quickly.
I’ve often written with admiration for the World Court, which the U.S. does not belong to. It is a fiercely independent branch of the United Nations intended to act as the judiciary arm for the world as a whole.
It has numerous problems, of which the largest is that several important countries like the U.S., Russia and China have refused to subscribe to it. Its operational problems, however, have been starkly manifest in its dealings with Africa.
Young, dynamic and emergent African countries have used the court regularly and aggressively, but when regimes change the potential arises to simply dispense and ignore the court in a way a politic is unable to with its own judiciary.
This has led to all sorts of controversies and constant threats by numerous African countries to withdraw. Today several of Africa’s most important countries increased their rhetoric, at least, that they are indeed leaving the court. These include Kenya and South Africa.
This really bothers me because it’s precisely in Kenya and South Africa that the value of the court to a humane world order has been best demonstrated.
Kenya went through a constitutional revolution, disputed election and widespread violence and disruption in 2007/2008. The Court together with other massive diplomatic initiatives put the whole country back together absolutely remarkably.
South African society and its mostly good leaders went ballistic last year when the turncoat president Zuma (soon to be pressed out of office) allowed the criminal Sudanese leader to enter his country without then arresting him as his country’s treaty with the ICC mandated. This marked an important turning point in Zuma’s rise to power and helped coalesce positive opposition against him.
African regimes are notorious with their threats, much less so with action that follows them up. But the growing displeasure with the court has put the court on the defensive, and … Russia knows it.
Russia had gone a bit further down the path to joining the court than either the U.S. or China, but it was never a bonafide participant. It signed the Treaty of Rome but never ratified it. This “hanging in the balance” is not surprising, of course: it’s the old Soviet duplicity in full swing.
Today Russia formally said it would not join the court. But in the finest Russian translation possible, it said rather that it was “withdrawing” from the court, essentially implying that it was a full fledged member.
The action is meaningless – since Russia isn’t a functioning party to the court – except in the context of allying itself with so many disgruntled African countries. The Philippines immediately said it would consider leaving, simultaneously as the Russian decision garnered headlines in South Africa’s media this morning.
Then, in absolutely splendid Soviet fashion, Russia double-checked the U.S. by disseminating to its sympathetic South African social media propagators the American response:
“Fourteen years after withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United States (US) has expressed regret that Russia has made exactly the same decision,” was the leader this morning in South Africa’s “Eye Witness News.”