- - Monday, August 11, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Persecution of religious believers went out of style among the civilized of the world centuries ago, but it’s back in the Middle East, particularly in the part of Iraq in the embrace of the new Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or the Levant, or al-Sham). Or ISIS for short.

In the predominantly Christian city of Mosul, 30 churches and monasteries have been captured by Islamic radicals. Some of the holy sites that have stood for more than a thousand years have been looted and their priceless treasures smashed.

This is the work of the perverters of decency who used dynamite to destroy the enormous 6th-century Buddhas of Bamiyan in Kabul, Afghanistan, a dozen years ago. They took a sledgehammer to the purported tomb of Jonah. No matter the building, object or artifact, if it’s a symbol of the Christian faith — or of any belief not in favor among those of the Sunni Muslim sect — it must be put to the torch.

President Obama has done the right thing ordering humanitarian aid for the Christians in Iraq and in bombing ISIS artillery positions. Mr. Obama, like the rest of us, has no appetite for resuming the war in Iraq, but he had no choice but to do what he has done. He will no doubt be required to do more. Civilized men do not enable barbarians by standing by to watch a holocaust from a safe distance. Mr. Obama’s earlier indifference to the gathering crisis has led the West and the world to this grim moment.

Christians in Mosul get the choice of renouncing their faith and embracing Islam, paying a “tax” or suffering execution. At least 100,000 Christians fled Iraq to Kurdistan to escape such religious cleansing. “All signs point toward a Christian holocaust among the destabilization of Iraq,” says Mark Arabo, a spokesman for the Chaldean Christian community. He says there’s evidence that ISIS has even beheaded children. In Syria, ISIS has crucified Christians for refusing to convert to Islam.

“Where is the West?” asks Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican. “Where is the Obama administration? Where is the Congress? The silence is deafening.”

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning president who was so eager to intervene in Libya has said very little beyond a vague acknowledgment that what’s happening is “very serious.” Words are inexpensive, and he acts only when the hour is late. The U.S. bombers dispatched to bomb Islamic militants to relieve thousands of besieged religious minorities in Kurdish areas is a positive first step. But it’s only a first step.

Enabling barbarians to rule Iraq after the blood of so many U.S., British and allied troops was shed to free the country is a tragedy that could haunt the West for years to come. “We must also be mindful of the threat to our national security,” says Mr. Wolf, “[a threat posed] by the thousand or more foreign fighters — including more than a hundred Americans — who have linked up with ISIS, and can travel back and forth to their home countries with ease.”

Leading from behind, or from the back nine of a golf course on Martha’s Vineyard, won’t discourage barbarians. Every success for ISIS, and every day that the White House appears weak, confused and timid, the enemies grow bolder. They boast that they won’t rest until civilization submits to the black flag of ISIS. We must not rest, either.

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