We’re Back in Iraq … Again

Iraq is the problem that won’t go away. We’ve had a military presence there for nearly a quarter of a century and it doesn’t look like we’ll be leaving Iraq alone for quite some time.

Obama just authorized bombings there in order to try to stem the tide of ISIS, which has been brutalizing Christians (and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq) and threatening American personnel. Reports vary, but they’re all harrowing—people being literally crucified, children being beheaded, and women being sold into sex slavery. The most recent scenario to arise, that finally prompted Obama to intervene, involves a small religious minority in northern Iraq that is threatened with complete extermination:

. . . In early August ISIS began threatening Iraq’s Yazidi group, who are trapped in a horrifying plight. The Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority with about 600,000 adherents worldwide. Yazidi religion is often described as a blend between Zoroastrianism and Islam, particularly mystical Sufi Islam, but ISIS calls them “devil-worshippers.”

The largest concentration of Yazidis in the world is in northern Iraq, where ISIS recently made significant inroads including into a heavily Yazidi town called Sinjar. ISIS has made special efforts to slaughter them. In fleeing ISIS, between 10,000 and 40,000 Yazidis from Sinjar and nearby environs have taken refuge on Mount Sinjar, an adjacent mountain, where they do not have regular access to food or water. They are trapped between starvation and ISIS, which controls every road out.

“An entire religion is being exterminated from the face of the earth,” Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi MP in Iraq, said in a tearful floor speech, begging for the world to save them. . . .

Iraqi Christians are also victims of ISIS’ march. On August 6th, ISIS took Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town. The town of 50,000 has had limited access to food, power, and water since, and some Christians have been given the “choice” to convert to Islam or be killed.

Obama has authorized bombings in Iraq to try to stem the tide. But there may be little that can be done. Can we force a people to adopt peace? If a people refuse to fight for their own peace, what can we really do to help them? We’ve been trying to export democracy to the Middle East since, like, the Crusades. And where has it gotten us? Nowhere.

What if all the Christians and ethnic minorities just leave the country? If they could find asylum somewhere else, we can just let ISIS and the rest of the militant Muslims kill themselves off. Then when the smoke clears, maybe decent peace-loving people can just come back in and turn that desert wasteland into a less dismal place. Wishful thinking?