The ethical import of delay in Iraq

The Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention condemns in the strongest terms the forced conversions, sexual abuse, and mass murder of the ethnic and religious minorities in northern Iraq by the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) genocidal terrorists.

We strongly encourage the Obama administration to continue to protect the tens of thousands subject to genocidal threats by supporting the Peshmerga forces in order to repel and defeat IS.

Approximately 200,000 people have fled their homes in northwest Iraq after IS militants publicly issued an ultimatum to the minority religious and ethnic communities: convert to Sunni Islam, pay a special tax, or be killed.

Shia Muslims, Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac and Armenian Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Shabakis and Mandens have all been subject to kidnapping, beheadings, rape and forced expulsions (‘ethnic cleansing’) and genocidal massacres in recent months, nearly emptying northwestern Iraq of its minority populations. The Yazidi community in particular has faced the brunt of the IS savage advance, causing some 40,000 people to flee the Sinjar province into the nearby mountains. Kurds are now subject to threats from well organized, well-funded and well-armed terrorist forces advancing towards Iraqi Kurdistan.

The United States has a special responsibility to protect Iraq’s vulnerable minorities, as the current power vacuum in Iraq resulted from the shortsighted and premature decision by the US administration to pull its troops from the region. This withdrawal left no one except the Kurdish Peshmerga forces to keep IS terrorist groups from advancing.

In this genocide the emergency humanitarian aid provided by the US has been too little, too late. And as we have seen before, humanitarian aid is not an adequate response to butchery. Although essential, such humanitarian aid for the tens of thousands of displaced Iraqis is offering no long-term protection from armed attacks. Just two days after statements by President Obama to the effect that the situation was under control, the IS beheaded more than 200 people.
There comes a time when the consequences of not using military force to protect threatened populations are far greater than using such force. Yes, there are times when pacifism encourages genocide and its advocates become bystanders to horrific atrocities.

The Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention recommends that nations and international organizations:

  1. Provide continued logistical, financial and humanitarian support to the Peshmerga and Iraqi military in their battle to protect those threatened by the genocidal actions of the IS.
  2. Mobilize coalitions to expel IS from regions its agents have seized.
  3. Provide continued humanitarian aid for the estimated 1.2 million Iraqis displaced by the IS advance.
  4. Investigate, expose and prosecute IS perpetrators and the financial networks that support and enable IS leaders to commit their crimes against humanity.
About the Author
Dr. Elihu D Richter is a founder of the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention