White House Takes a Step in the Right Direction Against Christian Genocide

Yesterday, the World Council of Arameans reported that nearly 400,000 families were ejected for Qaraqosh. Reports indicate that many of them are now stuck in the mountains near Irbil without food and water, facing certain death. This is just another in a string of events perpetrated against Middle-Eastern Christians and dangerously reflects the 1915 Genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks.

Earlier this week I wrote about how Washington, among other capitals, cannot ignore the errors of the past. The first indication that those oversights would not be repeated came during a White House announcement. In response to the Qaraqosh news, President Obama authorized two operations in the region. The first were airstrikes designed to protect American personnel in the region, the second was a humanitarian mission geared towards saving the families near Irbil. In his statement, President Obama referred to a moral imperative to act “carefully and responsible to prevent a potential act of genocide.”

The “act of genocide” phrase is poignant and recalls a similar response by the Clinton Administration during the Rwandan genocide. Referring to the situation in Iraq as an act of genocide and not an actual genocide is nothing more than a legality. The 1948 Geneva Conventions compel signatory nations, of which the United States is part of, to act against genocides. Furthermore, by admitting genocide is occurring, enormous political pressure would be exerted on Washington to commit itself fully to its cessation.

Currently humanitarian mission includes supplying these displaced families with food and water. However, Washington is not ruling out surgical airstrikes against ISIL to aid Iraqi and Kurdish forces in repelling the encroaching extremist group. It did stop short of promising direct military involvement by U.S. ground forces, preferring the fund and assist moderate militant groups and armies. A cautious approach to an, understandably, war weary America but it runs the risk of allowing the genocidal fire to continue burning.

We should not be dismissive of this development. It is a promising step in the right direction but we should be vigilant that the continued persecution and systematic elimination of Christians will not fully end. If it does continue, the United States will have to lead an effort to eradicate genocide from the region. Congress will need to be convinced that this endeavor is one of the few morally obvious questions facing us in the 21st century.

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Constantine (Dean) Argiris is a lifelong Orthodox Christian from the…
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