- - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It’s almost too hard to face it, but the same heinous crimes we see unfolding against the refugees on Mount Sinjar, Iraq, have happened before.

It’s like, deja vu almost 100 years later. The pictures brazenly posted by the terrorist group calling themselves Islamic State are horrifying. This barbaric, blood-thirsty organization has performed the most horrific, evil acts on the innocent since World War II. The difference now is that they aren’t hiding their atrocities in concentration camps. They are broadcasting them to the world without apology.

Whatever your view regarding the conflicts in Turkey in 1915 under the Young Turks government, one mass rescue and evacuation took place that year that no one denies. The world was at war and turmoil was rampant. Seeing the signs of coming conflict and danger for their people, over 4,000 Christian Armenians from six different villages in northern Turkey, meticulously planned a desperate escape into Musa Dagh (Moses’ Mountain). In spite of months of careful planning and making use of all the resources available to them, they knew they could not hold out against the government forces for too long. They decided it would be better to die on the mountain, rather than face forced marches through the desert to relocation camps and almost certain death.

Sound familiar?

With very few guns and little ammunition, these simple villagers defended themselves for 53 days. Supplies began to run low and their numbers began to dwindle. They had few options. The rest of the world was in the throws of World War I. They sent a runner to Alleppo to beg the American Consul for help, but the messenger never got through. They sent swimmers to look for war ships, but none could be found. They had no means of communication. No one in the outside world knew of their plight.

In their desperation, they crafted two distress flags and attached them to tall trees on the side of the mountain facing the Mediterranean Sea. One bore a large red cross and the other, these words in English: “CHRISTIANS IN DISTRESS: RESCUE.” On Sept. 12, 1915, after 53 days under siege, a lookout spotted a ship in close range, and the Armenian villagers began desperately waving their distress flag. As the French ship Guichen lowered her boats, one of the villagers swam to the cruiser. The ship’s captain, upon learning of the dire distress of the 4,000 refugees, sent out a telegraph to nearby ships pleading for assistance in performing an immediate evacuation.

The French ship St. Jeanne d’Arc soon arrived along with two others. An English cruiser in the area heard the call and soon arrived as well. Within hours, a mass evacuation was in full force. More than 4,000 souls were rescued that day in a large-scale, impromptu evacuation by ships and sailors who had no preparation for such a mission. They simply reacted to the crisis in an effort to save lives.

Almost 100 years later, with access to 24-hour news cycles, constant real-time reporting, wi-fi, cell phones and social media, history is repeating itself. But this time, what is our excuse? We’re not talking two distress flags on an obscure mountain barely viewable to the human eye. We’re talking widespread knowledge of thousands of people in danger. We have Coptic Christians, Syrian Christians, Yazidis and various sects of moderate Islam posting on social media and screaming to live cameras, “IN DISTRESS: RESCUE.” We are watching this unfold before our very eyes. The French were the first to offer asylum to the Yazidi refugees, but where is America?

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Islamic State group is “… Beyond any terrorist group. … tremendously well-funded,” and he went on to say, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything. The only way you do that is you take a cold, steely hard look at it and get ready.”

Get ready? It seems open ended to say the least. “Beyond anything we’ve seen?” I disagree. We’ve seen evil before, just not as it happens. When evil has reared its head, America has always forcefully and completely defeated it! This can only be done with leadership motivated by the necessity of preserving liberty. The Obama administration has illustrated its version of leadership by combining classroom theories with feel-good slogans, sprinkled with political hyperbole.

Remember the oft-repeated slogan: “Osama bin Laden is dead and GM is alive?” Bold, braggadocios words, and yet this administration’s first attempt at international relations was an apology, followed by half-measures that tied the hands of our military to the point of frustration. The real result has been a projection of weakness to those who only wish to destroy.

A true leader can see the consequences of his actions further down the road better than those he’s leading, and he takes action accordingly. The public announcement of our date of withdrawal gave the terrirfying Islamic State time to plan and prepare. That rushed withdrawal left a vacuum in effective power. Now, the Islamic State group has proudly displayed large arsenals of sophisticated American weapons, vehicles and machinery, acquired in Syria and Iraq after our withdrawal, and they have used them to inflict sadistic death and destruction on thousands of innocent civilians.

The Yazidis have been on Mount Sinjar longer than the Armenians were on Musa Dagh, and the world has had much more coverage and confirmation of the atrocities which they have endured. Where is our massive humanitarian rescue effort? For the past week, our attention has been focused on the racial tensions, riots and looting in Ferguson, Missouri. Yes, that must be addressed and solved. But it would reassure the vast majority of Americans so much more to see Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel landing in an allied country to organize a rescue mission for the Yazidi refugees rather than seeing the image of Attorney General Eric Holder landing in Missouri to visit one family in distress. Answering the call to save thousands of lives appeals to the “better angels of our nature” and would result in unifying our nation when it is in dire need of it.

A few helicopters dropping some supplies will not suffice. Neither will a few strategic air strikes or providing fire arms to the Peshmerga. Charitable organizations like Samaritan’s Purse do not have what is needed for the size of this crisis. With such atrocities as beheadings, crucifixions and mutilations of children taking place, there is no time for half-measures.

At his press conference addressing the beheading of James Foley, President Obama stated about the Islamic State terrorists, “People like this ultimately fail.” I hope we realize that that failure is not naturally inevitable. Evil fails when good people take action.

The great American patriot Patrick Henry put it best: “Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? … We are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. (These) millions of people, armed in the Holy cause of Liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. …The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.”

I don’t fear this evil as long as our military is free to unequivocally defeat it. I do fear that the White House will not have the political spine to take decisive action in time to avert further crises. The Obama administration’s reactionary, politically expedient decision-making has been a dismal failure thus far. The American people must remind Washington that it’s not the next election that is at stake; it is the next American generation.

Just last night, my 13-year-old son was talking to his friend in the back seat of our car about his dream of someday joining the military. His 13-year-old friend’s disheartened response was, “Well, by the time we’re old enough to join, it seems like the world is gonna be a pretty big mess!”

So, I’m “Just Sayin’ ” … Let the “lamp of experience” illuminate the difficult path ahead. Unshackle our armed services and let them do their job. And remember: If good will not lead with strength and confidence in the Holy cause of liberty, then evil will lead with violence and destroy everything in it’s path.

It’s time to lead and it’s past time to act.

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