A lot has changed in the world since 1988.
During that year,
the cost of a stamp rose to 25 cents. The price of gasoline hovered
around 72 cents per gallon. Crocodile Dundee II was the top-grossing
movie of the year at a little more than $24 million. Stephen Hawking’s
best-selling book explaining the universe, A Brief History of Time, was
released. George Michael topped the charts with four number one songs.
Barry Sanders won the Heisman Trophy after rushing for 2,850 yards and
scored 44 touchdowns at Oklahoma State University. President Ronald
Reagan was completing his last year in the White House.
things have stayed the same. From February to September of that year,
the al-Anfal Campaign resulted in the deaths of up to 182,000 Kurds and
other minority groups in northern Iraq. Today, the country appears to be
on the verge of descending into another genocidal period.
in the past few days and weeks have grown increasingly alarming as the
group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has upped the
violence in the country. At least one news organization has reported
dozens of Christian, Kurdish, non-Sunni Muslim children were recently
beheaded in a park in Mosul. Iraqi government officials said hundreds of
Yazidi (a religion based upon Zoroastrian philosophies) women under the
age of 35 were captured by ISIS forces. The women are now being held in
the same city and are being given to ISIS soldiers as slaves. Another
reported 50,000 Yazidi people, roughly half of them children, are
surrounded in the mountains outside Sinjar with no food or water. On
Thursday, ISIS told Christians in Qaraqosh, the largest non-Islam
population in the country, to either leave, convert to Islam, or be
At the same time, ISIS forces have also moved close enough
to U.S. and other humanitarian aid countries’ centers that President
Obama ordered airstrikes the past two days to attack the terrorist
positions. U.S. assets also dropped supplies to the trapped Yazidis in
To say any of the events occurring over the past few weeks
is solely the fault of recent U.S. administrations is naive and
uninformed. In addition to the mass killing of women and children under
the Hussein leadership in the 80s, Iraq history shows racial and
religious mass murders going back to the 1920s (Simele Massacre) and
The current Iraqi government appears either unable or
unwilling to do what is necessary to keep the country safe from these
types of attacks. If the U.S. and other countries do nothing to help the
Iraqi government, then the world will be treated to another round of
atrocities to rival the likes of Idi Amin in Uganda and the Khmer Rouge
government in Cambodia. More than likely, airstrikes with either planes
or drones will only go so far in holding down the terrorist violence so
if the U.S. becomes involved, ground forces may be needed in order to
accomplish any portion of peace. So far the Obama administration has
vehemently denied any plans to put troops in Iraq, going so far as to
leave the airstrikes an unnamed operation to reinforce they are only
small, temporary acts.
In the end, the U.S. and the Obama
administration are facing the Morton’s Fork Paradox. In the late 15th
century, the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Morton, stated any man
living modestly must be saving money and could therefore afford to pay
more taxes. Morton also held that any person living an extravagant and
lavish lifestyle must be so rich they could obviously afford to pay more
taxes. In other words, Morton’s Fork states that every case, despite
the circumstances, leads to the same unpleasant end.
Iraq, and for
that matter much of the Middle East, is the Morton’s Fork for America.
If we sit by and do nothing, tens of thousands of people, including
women and children, will die. If we attempt to help in any way, we will
invite attacks and put the lives of our soldiers and others in jeopardy,
resulting in people dying.
Either way, there is no good answer.