Even if the United States were not heavily responsible for the bloody chaos that is Iraq today, we would need to act to try to prevent the bloodbath being carried out by the Islamic State, or ISIS. The 40,000 religious minority members surrounded and left to die on a mountaintop are just one example of ISIS ethnic cleansing. We have also seen slaughters of Christians and Shiite Muslims. Human Rights Watch reports mass executions, beheadings and crucifixions.
In the 1990s, the United States acted, too late, against genocide in the Balkans, but succeeded in stopping it. The United States did not act against the slaughter in Rwanda, a failure that Bill Clinton called the greatest regret of his presidency.
Acting doesn’t mean troops on the ground; we tried that once. But we have the capacity, with air power, military supplies and humanitarian assistance, to affect the situation and strengthen the opposition. We can strengthen the defense of the Kurdish area, which so far is serving as a safe haven.
Anywhere in the world, the United States would be moved to move against wholesale slaughter of innocents. In Iraq, which 11 years after the U.S. invasion is still struggling with the resulting violent anarchy, we have a particular responsibility.
NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 8/16/14