On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry finally announced that ISIS is guilty of genocide.
"My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgment, Daesh [Kerry’s preferred term for ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims," he stated at a press conference. "Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions, and what it says, what it believes, by what it does."
This is the first time the Obama administration has officially acknowledged that the Islamic State’s inhuman rampage involves genocide. The last time the United States used the term was in 2004, when warring factions in Darfur spilled the blood of 400,000 people and displaced another 2,500,000 people.
Kerry’s delayed proclamation only came under strong Congressional pressure.
"Congress had given the State Department until Thursday to decide whether the group's actions against the Yazidis and other groups were genocide," reports The Hill. "Lawmakers were pushing for Kerry to do so sooner, but the State Department had said — as recently as Wednesday — that he was not at the point yet where he felt he had all the information and evidence needed to make a decision."
Apparently, the almost daily reported incidents documenting ISIS’ barbarism was not enough for Kerry’s State Department. It took hundreds of Yazidi women being gang-raped by ISIS fighters, forced abortions on sex slaves to prolong their sexual use, Shiite adolescents pushed off ten story buildings, Christian churches burned to the ground, Kurdish men burned alive, Western journalists beheaded, non-Salafist Sunnis punitively amputated, ancient Assyrian monuments bulldozed, and whole villages erased off the map for John Kerry to come around and find seemingly elusive “evidence” of genocide.
The Secretary of State then added:
We have not been able to compile a complete record — I think that's obvious on its face. We don't have access to everywhere.
But over the past months, we have conducted a review of the vast amount of information gathered by the State Department, by the intelligence community, by outside groups and my conclusion is based on that information and the nature of the acts reports...
Ultimately, the full facts must be brought to light by an independent investigation and a formal legal determination made by a competent court or tribunal," he said.
But the United States will strongly support efforts to collect, document, preserve, and analyze the evidence of atrocities, and we will do all we can to see that the perpetrators are held accountable.
Kerry’s self-delusion shouldn’t come as any surprise; this is the same man that believes the "world is safer today" thanks to President Obama's Sisyphean foreign policy.
GOP lawmakers have praised Kerry for finally stating the obvious.
“I commend Secretary Kerry and the State Department for making this important designation,” said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), according to The Hill. “The genocide against Christians, Yezidis, and others is not only a grave injustice to these ancient faith communities, it is an assault on human dignity and an attack on civilization itself. The United States has now spoken with clarity and moral authority.”
"This is good news," Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said. "The Administration made the right call by stating the obvious truth that ISIS is responsible for genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. Telling the truth and condemning genocide against those who seek to worship or not worship as they see fit is a small but important step to recovering a coherent American foreign policy. This decision does not end the atrocities but it does name them."
As Sasse implied, action speaks louder than words. Clearly, ISIS is guilty of unspeakable crimes against humanity, atrocities that constitute genocide. But, a term like “genocide” isn’t a term to be thrown around lightly. When the United States of America, the world’s greatest superpower, invokes that term, it often carries a number of policy implications.
“Bill Clinton hesitated to use the word in Rwanda, saying it would mandate action. George Bush used it a decade later in Darfur, but concluded it didn’t mandate any policy change,” explains The Washington Post. “Genocide experts want, above all, for the word to mean something.”
For the most part, the Obama administration has turned a blind eye to the genocide committed against Iraq’s religious minorities, leaving Christians, Yazidis, and Shiites to be torn apart by the wolves.
Suspended between a dysfunctional Shia-centric government in Baghdad and a stampede of Sunni extremists in Anbar Province, including ISIS, or the so-called Islamic State, Iraq’s Christians are holding on for dear life. At the moment, the intrepid Kurdish Peshmerga forces appear to be only ones on the ground sheltering Christian refugees. Fighting with old Soviet weaponry, the stateless Kurds have risked their own lives to save fleeing minorities, harboring thousands of Christians, Yazidis, and other syncretic Muslim sects targeted by puritanical Sunni insurgents.
If the arc of moral history bends towards justice, as President Obama repeatedly opines, then it’s the Kurds, not the Americans, that exhibit moral fortitude in the face of oppression. According to the Daily Mail, 27 Iraqi Christians, specifically Chaldeans, or Chaldo-Assyrians, were held in U.S. detention facilities. The majority of these refugees, a staggering 22, were denied asylum and sent back across the Atlantic. All 22 Chaldean refugees had secured family sponsors, posing no ostensible security threats.
Today, ISIS terrorizes Christian communities with appalling zealotry. After issuing a medieval declaration of religious supremacy, ISIS leaders squawked that religious minorities “must convert to Islam, pay a fine, or face ‘death by the sword.’” One-by-one ISIS militants painted Christian homes and businesses in Eastern Iraq an ominous red. Each door was marked with the symbol ن, pronounced “noon,” the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet. In an inversion of the biblical story in Exodus where the Hebrews paint their doors with red blood so that the angel of death passes over their homes, ISIS tried to write its own macabre tale, marking Christian houses for persecution. Unfortunately, the persecution of Christians is intertwined in the historical timeline of Sunni Arab colonialist conquest.
Outside of US aerial strikes, the Obama administration does not appear to be changing its strategy against ISIS. Although the group has been progressively losing territory in Iraq and Syria, it has metastasized to other parts of the region, namely Libya. For now, the region’s remaining religious minorities are as vulnerable as lambs in a slaughterhouse.