The Last of the Yezhidis

The Obama administration has reached what one might call the ‘Pol Pot Aftermath’ of its Middle Eastern policy.  Michael Totten notes that ISIS is massacring the Yezhidis, people who practice “the original religion of the Kurds. ”  What is worse, according to the New Yorker magazine, this massacre is genocide. George Packer describes the travails of his friend Karim, who “spent years working for the U.S. Army in his area, then for an American medical charity. He’s been waiting for months to find out whether the U.S. government will grant him a Special Immigrant Visa because of his service, and because of the danger he currently faces.”


Tell him to try Mexico.

ISIS regards Yazidis as devil worshippers, and its fighters have been executing Yazidi men who won’t convert to Islam on the spot, taking away the women as jihadi brides. …

The Kurds began to run out of ammunition, and those who could retreated north toward Kurdistan. By dawn, the extremists were pouring into town. Later, ISIS posted triumphant photos on Twitter: bullet-riddled corpses of peshmerga in the streets and dirt fields; an ISIS fighter aiming his pistol at the heads of five men lying face down on the ground; Arab locals who stayed in Sinjar jubilantly greeting the new occupiers.

Karim had time to do just one thing: burn all the documents that connected him to America—photos of him posing with Army officers, a CD from the medical charity—in case he was stopped on the road by militants or his house was searched. He watched the record of his experience during the period of the Americans in Iraq turn to ash, and felt nothing except the urge to get to safety….

Prince Tahseen Said, “the world leader of the Yazidis,” has issued an appeal to Kurdish, Iraqi, Arab, and European leaders, as well as to Ban Ki-moon and Barack Obama. It reads: “I ask for aid and to lend a hand and help the people of Sinjar areas and its affiliates and villages and complexes which are home to the people of the Yazidi religion. …

Karim couldn’t help expressing bitterness about this. “I don’t see any attention from the rest of the world,” he said. “In one day, they killed more than two thousand Yazidi in Sinjar, and the whole world says, ‘Save Gaza, save Gaza.’ ”


Of course the Yazidis are not alone in facing extermination. For the first time in nearly 2,000 years there are no Christians in Mosul. What no power of evil has been able to be accomplish in two millenia was achieved in a trice by the most moral administration in American history; perhaps by accident, perhaps by carelessness, perhaps even by design, but achieved nonetheless.  Whichever way you look at it, that’s awesome.

The entire map of the Middle East has been transformed into a 21st century version of the European Bloodlands. But the most remarkable thing is this catastrophe was enabled in a fit of moral superiority. Roger Kimball, speaking to an audience in Sydney observed that most striking property of modern political correctness was narcissism.  For the ultimate source of leftist legitimacy is the view that they are better simply persons than the rest; able to make moral judgments no one else can.  Their self-regard is almost erotic. They’re in love with themselves. Or to paraphrase one the president’s campaign lines: ‘we are the people the world has been waiting for.’

We’re ready for our moral close-ups.

Something of this present tragedy was foreshadowed in the casual way with which the Left regarded the exodus of the boat people from Vietnam and the Cambodian Killing Fields as collateral damage; something ironic in an anti-war movement that finishes up empowering the greatest seaborne exodus in the history of the world and the massacre of millions.


But if there’s irony it escapes them. After all, ‘how could we have known,’ they ask, ‘that the people we supported were murderers?  We meant well.’

We meant well. And to make up for the sins of the past, the world is sentencing two two doddering officials of the Khmer Rouge regime (that’s ‘Red Khmer’ to those of us who can’t read French) convicted of ‘crimes against humanity’ to life.  And maybe 50 years from now they’ll round up some former ISIS fighters in wheelchairs and walkers and sentence them to life as well. As for the Yahzidis, they’ve been sentenced to death.

It’s just possible that the Left never loved either the Khmer, the Vietnamese, the Kurds or the Yehzidi. We know the left could never have any sympathy for the Christians to begin with. So who in the end, did they care for? Perhaps they never loved these far distant people on whom they never clapped eyes; only the thought that they did. They cared, in a word for themselves. Yet some may say, even now: ‘look! the Obama administration is air dropping some canned goods.’

Yesterday, a senior U.S. official told me that the Obama Administration is contemplating an airlift, coördinated with the United Nations, of humanitarian supplies by C-130 transport planes to the Yazidis hiding in the Sinjar mountains. There are at least twenty thousand and perhaps as many as a hundred thousand of them, including some peshmerga militiamen providing a thin cover of protection. The U.N. has reported that dozens of children have died of thirst in the heat. ISIS controls the entrance to the mountains. Iraqi helicopters have dropped some supplies, including food and water, but the refugees are hard to find and hard to reach.


These airdrops, unless accompanied by other measures, may only redouble the determination of ISIS to kill them. For they hate no one so much as those who receive American aid. Karim knew as much, which was why he burned the photos; why he brushed over all traces. A half-eaten MRE may prove a death warrant. Maybe they should drop them ammunition instead. No that would never do.  Those are for guns! and how much better the world would be if Kurdistan were only a gun-free zone.

But in any case they should recall the lines that Oscar Wilde wrote about the triumph of hypocrisy over courage.  He had it right.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword.

Here’s to lost causes.  Here’s to the last of the Yehzidi.

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Update: President Obama has authorized “targeted airstrikes” to stop the Yehzidi genocide according to USA Today which reports that Obama said “today, America is coming to help”.

President Obama said Thursday he authorized “targeted airstrikes” if needed to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq, as well as airdrops of food and water to religious minorities in Iraq who are under siege from Islamic militants and trapped on a mountain top….

Obama attempted to assure the American public that it would not lead to U.S. involvement in a ground war there. The airstrikes would be used to prevent militants from reaching Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region. Irbil is home to a U.S. Consulate and a joint U.S.-Iraqi security base.


In Obama’s gesture is an implicit lie. Nobody ever comes to a war “to help”. It’s not like stopping by a picnic or helping a neighbor move house, where you can participate as much or little as you want and then walk away. The only valid object of joining a conflict is ‘to win’, or at least, be on the winning side.  Fighting to look good is neither moral nor does it work. You don’t ever want to “help” and be among the defeated. For those in the field, defeated means dead.

Bombing once started makes enemies and kills people. Unless it is done for a definite object and terminal state in mind, then it is better not done at all.  Any action sufficient to ‘stop the genocide’ requires defeating ISIS. Either Obama aims to defeat ISIS or he is merely prolonging the agony. Lyndon Johnson was a great fan of “targeted airstrikes” in Vietnam. Johnson famously boasted of his fine grained control over the USAF.

“LBJ liked to pick bombing targets himself”. More strongly expressed in Vietnam Magazine, December 1997, by Air Force Major John Keeler (Ret) – who quotes LBJ as saying: “Those boys can’t hit an outhouse without my permission”.

Lyndon Johnson was in Vietnam to ‘send a message’. Ho Chi Minh was in it to win. How did that work out?

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