ASCF Report | 3.15.16
By Alan W. Dowd, ASCF Senior Fellow
Asked in February why the
Obama administration refuses to call the Islamic State’s targeted campaign
against Christians “genocide,” White House press secretary Josh Earnestcited “legal ramifications” and blandly assured us “there are lawyers that are
considering whether or not that term can be properly applied.” These empty
words are especially jarring coming from the Obama White House. After all, it
was President Obama who declared in
2012, “Too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a
massive scale. And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop
and the lives we did not save…‘Never again’ is a challenge to defend the
fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and
security…‘Never again’ is a challenge to nations.”
“Never again” is what the
world said after Hitler and his death cult tried to murder Europe’s entire
Jewish population. In response, the United Nations in 1948 declared “any of the
following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnic, racial or religious group” genocide: killing members of the
group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring
about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended
to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of one
group to another group.
Much of what ISIS has done in its rampage through Syria and Iraq is too
gruesome to describe in this venue. But here’s the R-rated version (there’s no
way to make it PG-13). You be the judge of whether it amounts to genocide:
The European Union reports that Christians and
Yazidis (a Kurdish religious tradition that blends elements of Zoroastrianism,
Christianity and Islam) “have been killed, slaughtered, beaten, subjected
to extortion, abducted and tortured” by the Islamic State’s coordinated
campaign of butchery and brutality.
ISIS has orchestrated mass-beheadings of
Egyptian Christians; razed, desecrated and plundered ancient Christian
churches; targeted Assyrian Christians for abduction; and crucifiedChristian children as young as 12.
As it carries out what the Hudson Institute’s
Nina Shea rightly describesas “religious genocide,” ISIS has given Christians a choice to convert to
Islam, pay extortion to remain Christian or face execution. In a haunting echo
of how the Nazis branded Jews, ISIS marks Christian-owned properties with the
Arabic equivalent of the letter “N,” for “Nazarene.”
ISIS has kidnapped and
Christians in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The Iraqi city of Mosul has been emptied of Christians.
As proof of its savage piety, ISIS has murdered
5,000 Yazidis; forced 2,000 Yazidi women into marriage and sex-trafficking;
conducted a systematic campaign
of rape against Christian and Yazidi
women; imprisoned Christian and Yazidi children as young as eight;
sold children into slavery; and perhaps most shocking and shameful of all, used
“mentally challenged” children as suicide bombers, according to the United
An estimated 700,000
Syrian Christians have fled the ISIS onslaught and the wider civil war in
Syria. On a single night in August 2014, ISIS forced more than 150,000 Iraqi
Christians from their homes and into hiding. All told, “More than 1 million
Christians have fled the terror of ISIS in Iraq and Syria,
and the remaining populations are a small remnant (250,000 in
Iraq and 200,000 in
Syria),” according to one expertin international human rights law.
None of this
should come as a surprise. ISIS leaders have openly declared, “We will conquer your
Rome, break your crosses and enslave your women.” And ISISmaterialsopenly call for “jihad against the
Jews, the Christians, the Rafida [Shiite Muslims] and the proponents of
All of this explains why the European Parliament last month declared ISIS guilty of “committing genocide against
Christians and Yazidis.” What’s difficult to explain is why the White House hasn’t
come to a similar conclusion—and why it hasn’t done more to defend U.S. interests and ideals in this struggle between
civilization and barbarism.
For the growing chorus of
Americans who demand that U.S. intervention be limited only to places and
purposes that directly impact U.S. interests, this is one of those unique
instances where humanitarian ideals and national interests overlap.
If the preceding litany
assaults America’s conscience, the following illustrates how ISIS represents a
clear and present danger to America’s interests:
The FBI has 900 ISIS-related investigations
underway in all
According to The New York Times, ISIS has
“manufactured rudimentary chemical warfare shells” and is aggressively pursuing
a chemical-weapons capability.
In control of some 26,000 square-miles of Iraq
and Syria, ISIS is threatening U.S. strategic allies and treaty allies in Turkey,
Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia; using its Iraq-Syria beachhead to spread into
Europe, Africa and Afghanistan; inspiring and commanding fighters around the
world; and attracting footsoldiers to its cause. In fact, the number of
foreigner fighters aligned with ISIS in Iraq and Syria has doubled,
with as many as 31,000 people from 86 countries now fighting under the ISIS
ISIS has declared provinces in Syria, Iraq,
Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Since October 2015, ISIS has been responsible
for at least 582 murders in nine countries outside its self-styled caliphate: The
Brussels bombings (31 killed), Paris siege (130 killed), bombing in Ankara (102
killed), takedown of a Russian airliner over the Sinai (224 killed), bombing
of a Beirut market (43 killed), bombing of a bus in Tunis (12 killed), San
Bernardino massacre (14 killed), Jakarta bombing (seven killed), suicide
bombing of an Istanbul tourism center (10 killed), car-bombing in Aden (nine
Calling ISIS “the most immediate threat to U.S.
national interests,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter emphatically concludes,
“We’re at war.”
Add it all up, and ISIS is “more
powerful now than al Qaeda was on 9/11,” according to Rep. Peter King, chairman
of a key House committee focusing on counterterrorism and intelligence.
President Theodore Roosevelt challenged
America in 1897 to resist “cold-blooded indifference to the misery of the
oppressed.” Even when “our own interests are not greatly involved,” he declared
a few years later, there are “occasional crimes committed on so vast a scale
and of such peculiar horror” that “action may be justifiable and proper” “in
the interest of humanity at large.”
This is one of those times.