For a candidate who frequently accuses President Obama of kowtowing to the international community, Mitt Romney’s aides sure have an optimistic view of the global justice system.A top Romney adviser suggested that the World Court could arrest Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, cutting off the regime’s leadership in one fell swoop.
During Monday’s presidential debate in Boca Raton, Fla., Romney brought up the notion of indicting Ahmadinejad for his inflammatory statements against Israel.
The Iranian dictator famously was quoted in a speech saying that Israel “must be wiped off the map,” though the translation was later revealed to be somewhat inaccurate.
“I’d make sure that Ahmadinejad is indicted under the Genocide Convention. His words amount to genocide incitation,” Romney said.
According to Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, successfully indicting Ahmadinejad would be more than just a symbolic victory.
“I think it would remove probably one of the most anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, pro-genocide members of that regime in Tehran,” he told TPM after the debate. As to whether he would actually be arrested: “I’m hoping that he would be indicted and that action would unfold following that indictment. Absolutely.”
Others in the Romney camp seemed a little unsure of how the indictment would play out. John Sununu, a top Romney surrogate, told TPM after the debate that the hypothetical charges wouldn’t even be about Israel, but about the violent repression of his own people.
“No, no, I thought he meant in terms of what’s going on internally in Iran,” Sununu said. “I think that’s what the reference was to.”
Former NATO commander Wesley Clark, an Obama supporter, led the military campaign against Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who was indicted and eventually arrested for war crimes. Clark told TPM after the debate that while such charges were an important tool, they would effectively cut off any possibility of a non-military solution in Iran and would be unlikely to stick based on Ahmadinejad’s statements alone.
“Yes, the war crimes charge is a useful threat, but if you want to prevent war you got to make diplomacy work,” he said. “The sanctions give us critical leverage.”
Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to the International Criminal Court. Romney’s aides referred only to the “World Court.”
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