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By John Sexton

The African Union yesterday denounced the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as "unhelpful" to a peace settlement in Darfur.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attends a ceremony in Merowe, Sudan, March 3, 2009. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague of the Netherlands issued an international arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on March 4, 2009. [Xinhua]

Jean Ping, the AU Commission Chairman, told AFP on Wednesday, "AU's position is that we support the fight against impunity, we cannot let crime perpetrators go unpunished. But we say that peace and justice should not collide, that the need for justice should not override the need for peace."

On February 17, 2009, the Khartoum government and the main rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, agreed on talks to end the conflict. The ICC arrest warrant may jeopardize the talks. Analysts also suggest the court ruling may revive the country's dormant north-south civil war.

Ping said Africa was being selectively targeted by the court. "What we see is that international justice seems to be applying its fight against impunity only to Africa as if nothing were happening elsewhere, (such as) in Iraq, Gaza, Colombia or in the Caucasus."

Such protests from people trying to save lives on the ground are unlikely to impress the moral absolutists and ethical bombers in the NGOs and human rights lobby, who pressed for the ICC to be established and have relentlessly pursued the Darfur issue. Intoxicated by their empty slogans of accountability, transparency, sustainable development etc, they fail to recognize themselves as dupes of Western geopolitical strategy.

Selective justice is the very opposite of justice. The ICC picks its targets very carefully among weak countries and former colonies without powerful armies or allies. No cell awaits George W Bush, who killed 600,000 Iraqis. Where is the arrest warrant for Tony Blair, former aggressor of Iraq, today posturing as a peace envoy to the Middle East? Where is the warrant for Tszipi Livni who bathed in the blood of Palestinian children in an attempt to secure the post of Prime Minister of Israel?

The sheer impudence of the court's decision is reflected in its inclusion of the United States, the country not only responsible for the most flagrant aggression and war crimes in recent history, but which also refuses to recognize the ICC, among those it calls upon to exercise the arrest warrant.

The location of the court in The Hague is testimony to its nature as a neo-colonial construct. Holland's prosperity was entirely built on the 350 year enslavement of the people of the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. After Holland was liberated from Nazi rule in 1945, its first thought was the re-conquest of its East Asian Empire, which it pursued through a five year war that killed tens of thousands. It is home to the most virulent strain of anti-Muslim racism in Europe, which it pretends is a response to Islamist militancy, but in fact reflects long-standing popular hostility to its immigrant population, itself the result of the country's colonial past.

The world has had enough of western colonialism and imperialism, whether it comes in the form of American and NATO troops, loans with strings attached, economic "advice" from the IMF, the World Bank and their assorted hangers on in the NGOs, or from kangaroo courts set up by the concert of western powers politely referred to in the media as "the International Community".

The Iraq and Afghan wars, the Neocon grab for resources to ensure a "New American Century," the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians, all testify to the West's criminal hypocrisy. The global financial crisis has exposed the emptiness of Western claims to economic competence and the bankruptcy of the development model it has imposed on the world. It is high time the West took a hard look at itself and put its own house in order.

(China.org.cn March 5, 2009)

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