A Plea on Behalf of Victims of ISIS/ISIL Barbarism in Iraq

The so-called Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS/ISIL) is conducting a campaign of genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and others in Iraq.  In its fanatical effort to establish a caliphate, 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.

It is imperative that the United States and the international community act immediately and decisively to stop the ISIS/ISIL genocide and prevent the further victimization of religious minorities. This goal cannot be achieved apart from the use of military force to degrade and disable ISIS/ISIL forces. President Obama was right to order airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL to stop its advance on key cities, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to people fleeing their assaults. Much more needs to be done, however, and there is no time to waste.

We, the undersigned, are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.  We are conservatives, liberals, and moderates.  We represent various religious traditions and shades of belief.  None of us glorifies war or underestimates the risks entailed by the use of military force. Where non-military means of resolving disputes and protecting human rights are available, we always and strongly favor those means. However, the evidence is overwhelming that such means will not be capable of protecting the victims of the genocide already unfolding at the hands of ISIS/ISIL.  That is why Iraq’s Chaldean Patriarch Sako has requested military intervention.

Therefore we call upon the United States and the international community to do everything necessary to empower local forces fighting ISIS/ISIL in Iraq to protect their people. No options that are consistent with the principles of just war doctrine should be off the table.  We further believe 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.

We call upon President Obama and the Congress of the United States 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.  Further, we endorse 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 by a lack of sophisticated weapons and other resources.  The U.S. should also assist with intelligence. We are hopeful that local forces, with adequate support and assistance from the U.S. and the international community, can defeat ISIS/ISIL.

The expansion of humanitarian aid to the displaced and fleeing is also urgent. Local churches and aid agencies are overwhelmed, and we have grave concerns about how these victims of violent religious persecution will be cared for this winter. The U.S. can and should take the lead in providing food, water, medicine, and other essential supplies.

We must be mindful that in addition to stopping the genocide, the U.S. and Europe have very concrete interests in disabling ISIS/ISIL.  As the Washington Post has warned:

“The Islamic State forces, which have captured large numbers of U.S.-supplied heavy weapons, threaten not only the Iraqi and Kurdish governments, but also Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. With hundreds of Western recruits, they have the ambition and capability to launch attacks against targets in Europe and the United States.”

It is also worth bearing in mind that our own nation is not without responsibility for the plight of victims of ISIS/ISIL genocide.  What is happening to these people now, and the further threats they face, would not be happening but for errors and failures of our nation’s own in Iraq.  This can and should be acknowledged by all, despite disagreements we may have among ourselves as to precisely what these errors and failures were, and which political and military leaders are mainly responsible for them. The point is not to point fingers or apportion blame, but to recognize that justice as well as compassion demands that we take the steps necessary to end the ISIL/ISIS campaign of genocide and protect those who are its victims.

Signers

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

Benjamin S Carson Sr MD, Emeritus Professor of Neurosurgery,Oncology,Plastic Surgery and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Medicine, President and CEO American Business Collaborative, LLC

Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice, Union Theological Seminary

Russell Moore, Ph.D., President, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

James R. Stoner, Jr., Professor of Political Science, Louisiana State University

Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Univesity

Edward Whelan, President, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Matthew J. Franck, Witherspoon Institute

William Happer, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Princeton University

Prof. Dan Robinson, Philosophy Faculty, Oxford University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University

David Mills

Micah J. Watson, Ph.D, Director, Center for Politics & Religion; Associate Professor, Political Science, Union University

Alan Charles Kors, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania

Anthony M. Esolen, Professor of English, Providence College

John Londregan, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University

Fr. John Cassar

Thomas Kelly, Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University

Rabbi Eliezer Bercuson, Princeton University

Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

C. Ben Mitchell, PhD, Interim Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University

Thomas F. Farr, Director, Religious Freedom Project, Visiting Associate Professor, Georgetown University

Lauren Weiner

Ben Cohen, Writer and Political Analyst, New York City

Robert J. Lieber, Georgetown University

Michael Stokes Paulsen, University Chair & Professor of Lae, The University of St. Thomas

Katherine Kersten, Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis, MN

Patrick Lee, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Sol Stern, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute

Jonathan Brent

Josh Block, Chief Executive Officer & President, The Israel Project

Richard Weissman, Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado at Denver; Adjunct Professor, Portland Community College

Martin Peretz, Editor-in-Chief, The New Republic, 1974-2012;Lecturer in Social Studies, Harvard University, 1971-2008

Fred Litwin, President, Free Thinking Film Society

Leon Wieseltier

Abigail Thernstrom, Adjunct Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Professor of History Emeritus, Harvard University

Jeffrey Herf, Distinguished University Professor, Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park

John B. Sprung, Lt. Col., USAF (Ret.)

Vladimir Tismaneanu, Professor of Politics, University of Maryland (College Park)

Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

Harvey Klehr, Emory University

Russell A. Berman, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University

Richard Landes, Professor of History, Boston University

Alfred Kentigern Siewers, Associate Professor in English, Bucknell University

Melissa Moschella, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Catholic University of America

Leila Beckwith, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, University of California at Los Angeles

Ralph (Benjamin) Stell, Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church

Victoria F. Gibson

Nina Shea, Director of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom

James Kirchick, Foreign Policy Initiative

Louis Menashe, Professor Emeritus, Polytechnic Institute of NYU

Sally Muravchik

Dulany Gibson, Princeton, NJ

Mitch Pearlstein, Ph.D. , Founder & President, Center of the American Experiment, Minneapolis

David A. Michelson, Assistant Prof. of the History of Christianity, Vanderbilt University

Benjamin Storey, Furman University

Joshua Muravchik, Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute; The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

Ronald Radosh, Adjunct Fellow, The Hudson Institute

Allis Radosh, Historian and author

Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University

Robert T. Miller, Professor of Law and F. Arnold Daum Fellow in Corporate Law at the University of Iowa College of Law, and Senior Scholar at the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University School of Law.

Daniel Mark, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Villanova University

Kenneth R. Weinstein, President and CEO, Hudson Institute

Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family

Rev. Matthew Ristuccia, Stone Hill Church, Princeton, New Jersey

Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law
Vanderbilt University

Michael Krauss, Professor of Law, George Mason University

Affiliations are for purposes of identification only and do not imply institutional endorsement

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