The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant for Benjamin Netanyahu and his minister of defense Yoav Gallant for war crimes. This only confirms what everyone has known for a long time: these monsters should be locked up in a dungeon, and the keys forgotten. But they represent only the tip of the iceberg of an entirely criminal system.


ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan accuses Israeli leaders of crimes such as “deliberately starving civilians”, “intentional homicide” and “extermination and/or murder”. While these charges appear to most to be clear and basic statements of fact, they threw nearly every chief representative of Western imperialism into a frenzy.

Nearly all of Israel’s allies immediately came to Netanyahu’s defense. As Khan simultaneously asked for arrest warrants against Hamas leaders, Israel’s allies rushed to condemn the “equivalence” made between elected politicians “from a democratic country like Israel and the leaders of the murderous terrorist group Hamas”, in the words of Justin Trudeau.

U.S. President Joe Biden and the entire U.S. political establishment have even begun drafting bipartisan legislation to implement sanctions against the ICC.

The ICC, founded in 2002, has historically always targeted enemies of Western imperialism or leaders of poor countries, the vast majority of them African. The case against Netanyahu and Gallant is a first in history: the first time the ICC has gone after a Western ally.

The powerlessness of the ICC

Even if the ICC judges grant the arrest warrants, the ICC has no means of enforcing its decisions on its own. It needs the 124 signatory states of the Statute of Rome to enforce its arrest warrants.

However, these countries will only apply these warrants in cases where it is not too damaging for their diplomacy. In reality, certain world leaders are untouchable—if they are protected by more powerful allies. And there are no allies more powerful than the United States. 

The U.S. even has a law (commonly known as the “Hague Invasion Act”) by which the U.S. Congress would allow the invasion of the Netherlands, where the ICC is located, if it arrested an American official.

Great Britain has also stated that it would not enforce any arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Trudeau, eternally at the beck and call of the United States, has carefully avoided committing to enforcing the ICC’s directives, despite Canada being a party to the Rome Statute. While asserting that it is “important” that “everyone” obeys international law “in every situation”, he has also said the ICC’s warrant is “unhelpful.”

We can’t really expect Netanyahu to be brought before the ICC for trial.

The whole system is guilty!

The hypocrisy revealed by this situation is obvious. Western leaders spend their time presenting themselves as the guardians of the “rules-based international order”. They applauded when the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin last year. But now that it’s one of their allies who’s been targeted, they’re prevaricating.

It’s not hard to understand why. These people have spent months supporting Israel and its right to commit war crimes under the guise of “defending” itself. They appear in thousands of photos shaking hands with Netanyahu and Gallant. They’re not exactly happy with the idea that history will remember them as friends of war criminals.

More than that, a dangerous precedent could be set by the ICC. If the ICC stopped only going after African dictators, but started prosecuting Western leaders too, our own imperialists here would feel the heat tickle their backside. U.S. Republican senator Lindsey Graham expressed this concern when he voiced support for sanctions against the ICC. “If they do this to Israel, we are next,” he said.

The ICC lawsuit begs the question: why stop there? American, Canadian, French, and British imperialists have also committed all kinds of crimes.

Think of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis by the Saudis with the support of the Trudeau government and with Canadian weapons; think of the torture committed in American prisons at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo; think of the sexual violence committed by Canadian peacekeepers in Haiti; think of the bombing of Libya by American and Canadian planes. Our own war criminals, the Bidens, the Bushes, the Blairs, the Clintons, the Harpers, the Trudeaus, who have set the Middle East on fire, who have killed over a million Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Syrians—they all remain at large.

Netanyahu is only one war criminal among all the war criminals who rule us. The capitalist state is a vast machine of oppression and exploitation of workers, looting and killing on behalf of banks and corporations around the world. The most abject violence is at the heart of the very functioning of the capitalist system.

But it’s not international institutions like the ICC, the UN, or the International Court of Justice that will be able to stop the murderous madness of our leaders. At best, they are mere talking shops; at worst, they are tools of oppression at the service of the imperialist bandits themselves.

The only way to lock all these murderers up is to do it ourselves. Workers and the oppressed, from Canada to the Middle East to the United States, must rise up against all these war criminals and overthrow their entire system.