Friday, 8 August 2014

A US bomb campaign worthy of support

A couple of hours ago, Barack Obama declared that the US will use military force to save the 40 000 Iraqis stranded on a mountain, having fled the brutal onslaught of the forces of the Islamic state (ISIS). The refugees are predominantly Yazidis, a non-Abrahamic sect which ISIS has vowed to systematically destroy. 

Based on ISIS previous actions, this vow is to be taken seriously – very seriously. To put ISIS into some perspective, suffice to say that even al-Qaeda think ISIS too brutal. 

ISIS forces are at the foot of the mountain, basically besieging the refugees who are in dire need of water, food and military support.

At least on the surface of it, this looks like a clear-cut case triggering the responsibility to protect clause of international law. Genocide is in the offing. Swift action is of the essence.

As Obama put it in his statement:
“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain, with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale and we have a mandate to help - in this case a request from the Iraqi government - and when we have unique capabilities to act to avoid a massacre, I believe the United States cannot turn a blind eye.”

These are the times that the US – despite its many, many flaws – shows why it is the least worst superpower we can have. 

Although I’d like to see Iran experience a blow-back from all the havoc and sectarianism it’s helped to create in Iraq, in a situation like this the moral imperative supersedes the realpolitik.

US military force has been wrong many times, but that doesn’t make it wrong all times. When Europe showed its squabbling impotence in dealing with ex-Yugoslavia, the US under Bill Clinton stepped in and managed to pacify the region (not only through military force, but also through diplomatic negotiations). And don’t forget that Clinton’s 1999 bomb campaign aimed to save a Muslim population from being terrorized by a Christian population.

“We need to act, and act now”, Obama said, as US military sprung into action to aid the Yazidis.

Of course, the US will always be damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t. But that’s just the banal Catch-22 that fetters all forms of leadership. And the greater the power, the greater the responsibility.

I would've damned the US if it bombed Syria last year, and I would've damned it if it didn't bomb ISIS now.

I should add that I am well aware, living in western Europe, that this right of mine to damn Uncle Sam is a right that Uncle Sam is the ultimate protector of. 

Believe me, all you dogmatic US bashers in the west, when the US – despite its many faults and hypocrisies – finally leaves the hegemonic cup to someone else, you will sorely miss that wretched Uncle Sam as you realize that the ultimate defender of your right to bash the US was the US.

Godspeed to Obama, the US military and the Yazidis.