Embedded Realpolitik? Reevaluating United States' Opposition to the International Criminal Court

Charles A. Smith, Heather M. Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


The United States, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, sought to disengage actively from the International Criminal Court (ICC). In many ways, the new, post 9/11 realpolitikbased strategy can be seen as the logical extension of US realist concerns. This chapter interprets this 'extension' in terms of the embedded realist concerns in the political structure of the US Senate. It argues that the domestic politics of US opposition requires analysis of the logical grounding of these concerns and the deeply ingrained political reality underlying US opposition to the ICC. A central aim of the chapter is to show how this embedding process constitutes a crucial explanatory dynamic of such opposition, and how the electoral logic of the US Senate has helped to further reinforce US opposition. In addition to examining this logic, the chapter also discusses the reasons the United States should support the ICC. It concludes that the false legal pretences underlying the electoral logic of the Senate provides a robust explanation for US opposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGovernance, Order, and the International Criminal Court
Subtitle of host publicationBetween Realpolitik and a Cosmopolitan Court
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191720406
ISBN (Print)9780199546732
StatePublished - May 7 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • 9/11
  • Deliberation
  • Embedded realpolitik
  • Hegemony
  • Hostile
  • Senatorial opposition
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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