Critics of the Obama administration’s Mideast policy say the United States has waited far too long to use the word genocide to describe the brutality exacted by Islamic State militants against its perceived foes. Today, Secretary of State John Kerry satisfied the president’s opponents.
“In my judgement Daesh (the Arabic acronym for ISIS) is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims,” said Kerry.
Genocide is a legal—and loaded—term. In 1948, the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the U.N. Security Council. After Kerry’s statement, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner briefed the media:
REPORTER: So if the Secretary was to decide what is going on is a genocide, that would have legal implications for policy, would it not? You’re obliged to do more about it?…
MR. TONER: So, it’s a fair question. So acknowledging that genocide or crimes against humanity have taken place in another country would not necessarily result in any particular legal obligation for the United States. However, we have joined with the international community in recognizing the importance of protecting populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, war crimes.
Therein lies the thorns of deeming Islamic State violence genocide. As a signatory, is the United States compelled to do more in Iraq and Syria to stop the genocide? Just think back to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the words of former President Bill Clinton:
“If we’d gone in sooner, I believe we could have saved at least a third of the lives that were lost…it had an enduring impact on me.”
Mr. Obama, Words Matter. Call the Massacre of Mideast Christians What It Is: Genocide
Jay Sekulow – Fox News
The images are horrific. Who can forget the video of masked Islamic jihadists on a beach beheading Christians — executing them on-camera for the world to see?…
The United Nations (UN) Genocide Convention defines genocide as acts committed “with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” That is certainly what is happening to Christians being executed by ISIS – the Islamic State – around the world.
But the word “genocide” carries with it important legal ramifications, too. “Genocide” violates international law and such a designation is necessary to activate certain legal requirements of the UN Genocide Convention that would force President Obama to protect Christians.
Watch Secretary Kerry’s Remarks on Genocide and ISIS:
Even After Escaping ISIS, the Suffering of the Yazidis Persists
Giles Fraser – The Guardian
…[U]nder heavy grey skies, the rain fell relentlessly on the outskirts of Dohuk city in northern Iraq, creating tracks of thick brown mud.
Here a 15-strong Yazidi family, three generations together, sheltered in a half-finished building lent to them by local Christians. Until Islamic State arrived in their village under the Sinjar mountain in December 2014, they were tomato farmers, living a life that had been much unchanged for centuries. The rest of the world had little to do with them and they had little to do with the rest of the world. They didn’t marry out and outsiders didn’t marry in. That was the Yazidi way. But Isis regarded them as devil worshippers.
On Monday, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously to classify what Isis did to the Yazidis as genocide. For this family, they were empty words. It wasn’t the west, they say, but the PKK, the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ party, that led them to safety, carrying women on their backs and giving them bread and water as they fled into the mountain.
Crimes of ISIS Amount to Genocide
The Editors – Concord Monitor
While the U.N. convention of 1948 doesn’t mandate action, Article I states that “the contracting parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law, which they undertake to prevent and to punish.”
It is those last five words that define the problem for Obama. What would it mean if the United States was suddenly compelled – by a pact forged in the wake of the Holocaust – “to prevent and to punish” ISIS for butchering and enslaving minorities? Would it mandate the creation of safe zones for entire populations? Ground troops to end the killings, torture, rape and sexual slavery?
Political calculation has always been a part of foreign policy, and for that reason the United States has historically – and tragically – been slow to officially recognize and act against exterminations…. But Congress and the American people should continue to press the administration “to prevent and to punish” war crimes in Syria and Iraq.