(Washington, DC) Princeton Professor and leading human rights advocate Robert P. George this week launched a bi-partisan, interfaith effort calling for the military destruction of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) and an intervention by the United States and international community to bring an end to the genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and others in Iraq.
“We call upon President Obama and the U.S. Congress to expand airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL with a view to eroding its military power, and to provide full air support for Kurdish and other forces fighting against ISIS/ISIL,” said Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, in an online petition signed by dozens of leaders from the intellectual left, right and center including Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College’s Eli Black professor of Jewish Studies; Russell D. Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Dr. Benjamin Carson; writer Leon Wieseltier; and publisher Martin H. “Marty” Peretz.
The petition found at IraqRescue.org, which is supported by conservatives, moderates, and liberals, states, “no options that are consistent with the principles of just war doctrine should be off the table” and “that the United States’ goal must be more comprehensive than simply clamping a short-term lid on the boiling violence that is threatening so many innocents in ISIS/ISIL’s path. Nothing short of the destruction of ISIS/ISIL as a fighting force will provide long-term protection of victims.”
The group endorses the Washington Post’s call for the United States to provide arms, ammunition, and equipment to Kurdish forces, Sunni tribesmen, and others who are currently hampered in their ability to fight ISIS/ISIL and to do “everything necessary” to empower local forces fighting to protect the people of Iraq.
“It is imperative that the United States and the international community act immediately and decisively against the attacks by ISIS/ISIL,” said Dr. George. “ISIS/ISIL has engaged in crimes against humanity by deliberately causing mass starvation and dehydration, and by committing unconscionable acts of barbarism against noncombatants, including defenseless women, children, and elderly persons.
“The time to act is now and the United States should take the lead in bringing an end to this genocide and protecting the innocent against attacks by ISIS/ISIL.”
President Barack Obama recently authorized bombing against ISIS/ISIL’s artillery to protect humanitarian efforts to provide food and water for the refugees trapped by ISIS/ISIL on a mountain in Iraq.
Yesterday former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) on Fox News said condemning the genocide in Iraq is not enough. “I think the world is looking for a [Good] Samaritan. The priests and the Levites are walking by and saying, ‘This is horrible. Gee, this is terrible,’ but that doesn’t save those children who are getting their heads cut off, and it’s not saving those babies who are starving up in 100-degree heat up on Mt. Sinjar,” Huckabee stated on the Kelly File.
“Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ And I think a lot of people don’t understand that there’s a difference between a peace lover and a peacemaker. Everybody loves peace, but wearing jewelry around your neck and saying ‘I love peace’ doesn’t bring it. It takes sometimes military action to make peace especially when you have wolves who are devouring the sheep. That’s what we have going on in Iraq right now,” Huckabee said.
“You either kill the wolf or you stand by and watch the sheep get slaughtered,” Huckabee noted that sometimes a just war is the only option.
Even the Vatican acknowledged that air strikes are necessary to stop the bloodshed of innocents.
Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the pope’s ambassador to Baghdad, told Vatican radio that the American strikes are “something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State forces] could not be stopped.”
Lingua spoke plaintively of the ordeals faced by an estimated 100,000 Christian refugees from northern Iraq – many of whom, he said, are children – to account for his view of the American campaign.
“You can see these kids sleeping on the streets,” Lingua said, adding, “[there is so much] suffering.”
In a similar vein, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio that “military action in this moment is probably necessary.”
Both Lingua and Tomasi went on to say that the international community needs to do more to unmask whoever’s supporting the radical Islamic State forces and to cut off its supply of arms, signaling reservations about widening the conflict.
At the same time, their endorsement of the American action, however grudging, was unmistakable. In light of recent history, it’s a sharp reversal of course.
Expanding military action in Iraq will likely meet opposition.
U.S. Senator Paul Rand (R-KY) last week in Iowa said that he opposed sending troops back to Iraq.
“Everybody is saying we have to be involved in Iraq to do something about ISIS. How did ISIS get so strong? Because we are arming the Islamic rebels. Maybe not them directly, but we created a safe haven for them by beating back Assad. Who is the number one military opponent of ISIS right now? Assad. He is the one bombing ISIS’ camp. The second strongest opponent of ISIS? Iran. What happened when they attacked Mosul? They ran. The Iraqis ran. So people are saying we need to get back in there. Do you really want to send our sons and daughters to fight for Mosul when the Iraqis won’t fight for Mosul? I can’t do that,” Paul stated.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) told reporters after The FAMiLY Leadership Summit in Ames, IA last Saturday that the events in Iraq are the latest manifestations of President Obama’s failed foreign policy. “For the last five years America has receded from leadership in the world and that has created a vacuum. And into that vacuum have stepped in nations like Iran, like Russia, like China and it has made the world a much more dangerous place,” Cruz said.
“What ISIS is doing in Iraq is unspeakable. ISIS is the face of evil. ISIS right now is crucifying Christians in Iraq. Crucifixion is not something that just occurred two thousand years ago they are doing it right now today. ISIS is beheading children who are Christians in Iraq. ISIS consists of radical Islamic terrorists who are so extreme they were thrown out of Al Qaeda,” Cruz added. “I am glad that President Obama is finally beginning to take the threat of ISIS seriously. Just a few months ago he dismissed ISIS as the junior varsity and the President’s foreign policy team utterly missed the threat of ISIS and indeed was actively working to arm Syrian rebels who were fighting side by side with ISIS. Now ISIS has taken over much of Iraq and we’re engaged right now in military strikes, but sadly when the President spoke (Saturday) morning he did nothing to articulate a clear military objective of what we were trying to accomplish.”
Cruz said that President Obama needs to articulate a “clearly stated military objective that hinges off of U.S. national security interests.” He also aid if military action is ongoing President Obama needs to come to Congress for authorization of military action. He said it may well be in the U.S. national security to take out ISIS ability to wage war because of their use of American weaponry including Abrahams tanks, but the President has not made that case Cruz said.
Other Republicans are in favor of some action in Iraq to curb ISIS.
Huckabee at the same event on Saturday said he opposed troops on the ground citing that not even the Kurds have asked for that. “What they want is arms. They need something other BB guns. They’ve got nothing. They are using AK-47s. They don’t even have a bullet that we’ve left for them. We promised them arms. We said we were going to give it. Maliki said ‘give it to me and I’ll see that they get it’ and that was an absolute lie. Because he is an absolute liar, he’s an utterly corrupt person,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee noted that the U.S. should have left Iraq in 2011 with a status of forces agreement, but the Obama administration neglected make sure that was in place.
Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) also weighed in on ISIS at the Summit citing that the Obama administration has lacked a coherent foreign policy, but supported his recent action.
“It would be nice to hear a coherent foreign policy when it comes to ISIS. He owes it to the American people. He owes it to our troops in uniform to define what the strategic vision is, what the strategic plan is. It is unacceptable, I believe that it is unacceptable to allow ISIS to occupy territory in Iraq and Syria to continue to grow in strength. The President did admit that they underestimated this threat, and the strength of ISIS. This is a dangerous threat,” Jindal said. “This is a terrorist group that is not going to be satisfied simply with the territory in Iraq and Syria. This is certainly an issue for those innocent civilians caught in the middle of this fighting. This is also an issue for all of us who care about our safety, our values and our freedoms. These are terrorists who disagree with our fundamental values and our beliefs. This is a group that will, if it has the capability, bring that fight to us. So I think it was right to order the airstrikes. I wish he had given us a more coherent overview of his strategy, his plan to deal with ISIS, and I also wished they acted sooner and not let the crisis grow to this point.”
Fox News reported today that the White House and Pentagon are at odds with how to proceed in Iraq.
As of this writing the Iraq Rescue petition launched by George has gathered over 3300 signatures.