The imperatives of US exceptionalism collided with the imperatives of empire Tuesday as the US suspended military assistance to more than 50 countries, including Colombia, over those countries' refusal to exempt US citizens from possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court. Despite the Treaty of Rome establishing such a court, the US has fought any effort to bring US citizens under its purview, citing possible political prosecutions of US soldiers or commanders for war crimes. President Bush issued waivers for 22 countries, but Colombia, one of the largest recipients of US military assistance, was not among them.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a strong ally of the Bush administration and firm proponent of US military assistance to defeat drug traffickers and leftist rebels, found himself in the odd position of criticizing Washington. In a speech in Barranquilla Wednesday reported by El Tiempo, he told the audience that "a dialogue between friendly countries can't be a dialogue with pressure," and "what must be done is to examine the judicial order in both countries" to find a resolution. He added that he had not yet received any official notice from the US about the suspension of military aid and that his foreign minister was discussing the matter with Washington.
In March, the US froze the delivery of $5 million in military aid to Colombia over its failure to kow-tow to US demands on the international criminal court. According to El Tiempo, another $130 million in US aid is at risk before October if no accord is reached.
Colombia is not the only regional country to face a military aid suspension for failure to exempt the US from the international criminal court. Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru are all on the list, and all are reacting with displeasure -- although Ecuador made clear that while it must reconsider its military relations with Washington, the suspension would not affect the agreement that allows the US to use military bases on its territory.
Bolivia, on the other hand, has agreed to US demands and will reportedly sign an accord to that effect within two months, an action that generated a strong negative response from that country's Permanent Assembly on Human Rights. "This unequal agreement could lead to armed US intervention in the country under the pretext of terrorism or the drug traffic because the American soldiers can commit crimes against humanity, knowing that they will not be judged for them," said assembly vice-president Sacha Llorenti, according to Bolivian press reports.