Bipartisanship in U.S. Foreign Policy: Explaining Congressional Criticism of the International Criminal Court, with M.P. Broache (UNC-Greensboro)
In May 2020, bipartisan groups of U.S. representatives (91 Democrats, 171 Republicans) and senators (26 Democrats, 43 Republicans) joined public letters criticizing the International Criminal Court (ICC) for proceeding with inquiries in Afghanistan, including allegations of war crimes by U.S. military personnel, and Palestine, covering alleged war crimes by nationals of Israel, a close American ally. While smaller groups of legislators—all Democratic members—issued statements defending the ICC, the bipartisan criticism of the Court was particularly notable, given the significant polarization in American domestic politics. Why did some U.S. legislators—across party lines—join statements criticizing the ICC, while some defended the Court, and many others said nothing? We develop a theory focused on the interaction of constituency-level characteristics, including military population and electoral competitiveness, and the individual legislator’s ideology and national-level profile, to address these questions. We test this theory using original data on public statements on the ICC by U.S. legislators in May 2020 and around other key developments in the U.S.-ICC relationship. Our analysis has implications for understanding the sources of U.S. policy toward the ICC and international organizations, as well as the broader domestic determinants of, and the role of Congress in U.S. foreign policy.