Bush Reassures GIs on Court; U.S. Soldiers Are Not Subject to International jurisdiction.(NATION)
Byline: Bill Sammon, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - President Bush yesterday issued his strongest condemnation of the International Criminal Court, vowing never to allow U.S. soldiers to come under its reach.
"We will not submit American troops to prosecutors and judges whose jurisdiction we do not accept," Mr. Bush told thousands of cheering GIs at this sprawling military base.
"Every person who serves under the American flag will answer to his or her own superiors, and to military law, not to the rulings of an unaccountable international criminal court," he added.
Mr. Bush reminded soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, many of whom served in Afghanistan, they are answerable to American military justice, not the international court that the United Nations began operating in The Hague July 1.
"Our nation expects and enforces the highest standards of honor and conduct in our military," the president said. "That's how you were trained.
"That's what we expect," he added.
The president took a harder line against the court than U.S. diplomats, who last week dropped their demands for permanent immunity for American peacekeeping forces. Instead, the State Department was willing to seek a one-year immunity while entering into side agreements with other nations not to extradite U.S. soldiers and diplomats to The Hague.
Mr. Bush also told the soldiers yesterday that while the global war against terrorism entails sending American advisers to some nations, other places might need conventional forces.
"In some parts of the world, there will be no substitute for direct action by the United States," Mr. Bush said. "That is when we will send you, our military, to win the battles that only you can win."
When he added: "We're prepared for any enemy, any enemy of freedom," a soldier shouted out: "Let's get Saddam." The president smiled wryly at this reference to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as the crowd erupted in cheers and wild applause.
They also applauded when Mr. Bush spoke of his desire to spend increased money on U.S. forces. Again and again, the soldiers shouted "Hoo-ah," their all-purpose expression of approval.
"Earlier this year, I proposed the largest increase in military spending since Ronald Reagan was the president," Mr. …