Video Suggestions

by | Oct 2, 2018

Video 1

Trump Administration to Sanction International Criminal Court, Ban Judges from US

Note: Although the video and its accompanying article are politically charged (such is the current nature of our sociocultural environment), your author encourages you to use it as a vehicle to discuss with your students, as apolitically as possible, the always-salient and topical issues of international trade law. USA Today is an internationally distributed American daily newspaper that serves as the flagship publication of its owner, the Gannett Company. It is not your author’s intent to either endorse or indict the sitting president.

According to the article, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton unleashed a scathing attack recently on the International Criminal Court, saying the Trump administration would sanction the court and ban its judges from the U.S. if it moves forward with a probe into alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan.

“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton said in a speech to the conservative Federalist Society. “The ICC is already dead to us.”

The ICC has long been controversial, with critics like Bolton suggesting it’s a threat to American sovereignty. Supporters say the international court, based in the Netherlands, offers recourse for victims of genocide and other war crimes in lawless countries.

The ICC was first envisioned in 1998 by the Rome Treaty as a tribunal that could prosecute genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity. “As a court of last resort, it seeks to complement, not replace, national courts,” the ICC says on its website.
In his recent speech, Bolton blasted the ICC as a “supranational tribunal” that claims “unfettered discretion to investigate, charge, and prosecute individuals, regardless of whether their countries have acceded to the Rome Statute.” The U.S. is not a signatory to the Rome agreement.

“In theory, the ICC holds perpetrators of the most egregious atrocities accountable for their crimes, provides justice to the victims, and deters future abuses,” Bolton told a receptive audience of Federal Society members. “In practice, however, the court has been ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous.”

Bolton said he made the announcement now because the Trump administration feared the ICC was about to take action in the Afghanistan matter.

Last November, the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced plans to seek a probe into allegations that the U.S. military and CIA personnel were involved in acts of torture in Afghanistan.

“In due course, I will file my request for judicial authorization to open an investigation, submitting that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan,” she said at the time.

But Bolton cited another factor in his broadside against the ICC: a possible investigation of Israel, a key U.S. ally. The Palestinians asked the ICC in May to probe alleged human rights abuses by Israel.
“We will not allow the ICC, or any other organization, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense,” Bolton said.

If the ICC tries to prosecute the U.S., Israel, or other allies, Bolton said the Trump administration would not only sanction the ICC but also any company or state that works with the court in such a probe. The U.S. could even cut off foreign aid to those countries, he said.

“We will remember that cooperation when setting U.S. foreign assistance, military assistance, and intelligence sharing levels,” Bolton said.

In a related move, the Trump administration announced recently it would shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington – a move that drew an immediate rebuke from Palestinian officials who said the White House is trying to bully them.

The State Department’s spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said the administration was closing the office because the PLO has not been a productive partner in efforts to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

“The PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” Nauert. “To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise.
“The United States continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward,” she added. “This action should not be exploited by those who seek to act as spoilers to distract from the imperative of reaching a peace agreement. We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace.”

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said that the recent announcement was “another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education.”

The Trump administration first threatened to close down the PLO’s office in Washington last fall but later backed off. The State Department’s decision to finalize that move will further inflame tensions between the U.S. and the Palestinians – coming on the heels of the Trump administration’s decision to nix funding for U.S. aid to the West Bank and Gaza and to freeze support for the United Nation’s program that supports Palestinian refugees.

“This dangerous escalation shows that the U.S. is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region,” Erekat said Monday.

He said the Palestinians would “take the necessary measures to protect the rights of our citizens living in the United States to access their consular services.”

Human rights advocates and other critics said the twin moves would further undermine America’s global standing and cripple U.S. efforts to be seen as a legitimate peace broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The first casualty of this (ICC) decision is America’s credibility when it comes to international justice,” said Brett Bruen, who served as director of global engagement in the Obama administration. Bruen said Obama tried to balance concerns about the ICC, in terms of its impact on U.S. national security and sovereignty, with America’s role as a champion of rule of law around the world.

“What Bolton is essentially doing is taking one our most powerful deterrents and removing it from the equation, which will result in more gross human rights violations taking place in places like Venezuela and Myanmar,” Bruen said. “It will ultimately result in more American blood and treasure having to be spent to remove those who are committing these kinds of war crimes.”
Amnesty International also blasted the move and called on the U.S. to join the ICC as a full-fledged member.

“Rather than imposing sanctions, the United States should instead once and for all reaffirm its signature of the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, and support – not impede – its investigations,” said Adotei Akwei, deputy director of advocacy and Government Relations at Amnesty International USA.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/09/10/palestinians-say-trump-bullying-them-closure-washington-office/1254466002/
Note: In addition to the video, please also see the following article included at the above-reference internet address.

Discussion Questions

1. Describe the International Criminal Court. What are its roles and functions?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. 123 nation-states are members of the ICC. Although the United States was a signatory (giving its preliminary support) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the treaty that established the ICC, the United States has not ratified the agreement. The result of this is that the United States is not legally bound by the treaty.

2. Describe the power of an international tribunal such as the International Criminal Court. Does an international tribunal have actual power regarding the disputes it attempts to resolve and the rulings it makes? Explain your response.

The power of an international tribunal depends predominantly on the willingness of nations to abide by its decisions.

3. Describe the power of international law. Is international law truly binding and enforceable? Why or why not?

Similar to the response offered in response to Video 1, Discussion Question Number 2 above, the power of international law depends predominantly on the willingness of nations to adhere to it.

Video 2

After Trump Tweets That the Ford Focus Can ‘BE BUILT IN THE U.S.A.,’ Ford Explains Why That Would Make No Sense

Note: Although the video and its accompanying article are politically charged (such is the current nature of our sociocultural environment), your author encourages you to use it as a vehicle to discuss with your students, as apolitically as possible, the always-salient and topical issues of international trade and trade restrictions (for example, tariffs). Fortune is an American multinational business magazine headquartered in New York City. It is not your author’s intent to either endorse or indict the sitting president.

Recently, President Donald Trump tweeted approvingly about the news that his 25% tariffs on Chinese-made automobiles had led Ford to decide against importing its compact Ford Focus Active model to the U.S. from the Chinese factories where the car is made.

“This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!” Trump exulted.

One problem: That’s not going to happen.

Ford’s North America product communications manager, Mike Levine, spelled it out for the president in a tweet noting “it would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units and its competitive segment.”

Ford didn’t move production of the Focus to China by accident; it did so because the U.S. market has shifted away from smaller vehicles toward SUVs, which has made production of the Focus in the U.S.—a relatively expensive location—an illogical choice.

The automaker decided a couple years back to shift production of the Focus to Mexico, then last year it opted for China instead. Earlier this year Ford cancelled all its smaller cars with the exception of the Mustang and the Focus Active.

Then, after Trump started threatening his new tariffs against China, Ford decided in August that it wouldn’t sell the Focus Active in the U.S. after all. The profit margins were simply too small to be worth it.

The auto-sector market economist Jon Gabrielsen claimed that Trump’s tweet was “further evidence that neither the president nor his trade representatives have any clue of the complexities of global supply chains.”

“This forces Ford to forfeit the sales they would have had if they could continue to import that low-volume niche vehicle,” Gabrielsen said.

http://fortune.com/2018/09/10/trump-ford-focus-active-donald-trump-china-tariffs/
Note: In addition to the video, please also see the following article included at the above-reference internet address.

Discussion Questions

1. Is Ford an American corporation or a multinational corporation?

Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan. In 2017, Ford sold 6.6 million vehicles worldwide. Approximately 2.8 million of those were sold in the United States, and 1.2 million were sold in China. Based on a cursory internet search by your author, Ford Motor Company has production facilities (for automobiles and component parts) in at least twenty-two (22) countries. These statistics demonstrate that although Ford Motor Company is headquartered in the United States, its strategic focus extends globally.

2. Why (specifically) has Ford elected to not sell the Focus Active automobile in the United States? Is its decision really just part of an overall strategy to deemphasize the sale of smaller vehicles and emphasize the sale of sport utility vehicles and trucks?

Quite simply put, Ford’s decision to not build or sell the Focus Active automobile in the United States is purely a business decision. In Ford’s estimation, it would not be profitable to either build or sell the Focus Active automobile in the United States.

3. As the article indicates, Ford’s North America product communications manager, Mike Levine has indicated that “it would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units and its competitive segment.” Analyze and assess this comment.

As indicated in response to Video 2, Discussion Question Number 2, Ford’s decision not to build or sell the Focus Active automobile in the United States is purely a business decision. In Ford’s estimation, it would not be profitable to either build or sell the Focus Active automobile in the United States.