Robert Hurt: The Islamic State is waging genocide

robert hurtThis weekend, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, who was embedded with Iraqi forces engaged in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS), died from rocket fire targeted at the outpost at which he was stationed.  We mourn this loss of this serviceman, and we are reminded of the tremendous peril our servicemen and women subject themselves to each day for the sake of our safety and freedom at home.  It is with these heroes in mind that we must sharpen our resolve against ISIS and the evil it perpetrates.

For months, we have watched as ISIS has spread violence and hate across its territories in Iraq and Syria.  They have focused with a unique level of brutality on thousands of Christians, Yezidis, Kurds, and other ethnic and religious minorities simply because these groups do not subscribe to the same distorted form of radical Islam as does ISIS.  We have seen far too many deplorable accounts of the murder, rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and displacement of these minorities.  These are war crimes of the most severe order, and we must condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms and motivate the international coalition to eliminate the scourge of ISIS.

In December, Congress passed and the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which included a provision that gave the Administration 90 days to formally declare that ISIS is committing genocide as outlined by the United Nations, which defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”  Such a declaration is significant, as U.N. member countries are obligated to work together to rid the world of such vile activity.

On Monday, three days before the statutory deadline, the House voted unanimously to express the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State against religious and ethnic minorities constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.  Press reports indicated that the Administration would not make a decision in time to meet the deadline, but we felt as though we could not wait to act.  Thankfully, the pressure applied by this overwhelmingly bipartisan call for action spurred Secretary of State John Kerry to issue the declaration on Thursday and officially condemn ISIS on the world stage.

Now that the Obama Administration has formally acknowledged that this intolerable regime is engaged in genocide, it must do more to stop it.  Recognizing these atrocities is only the first step in stopping this force of evil, but now, we must eliminate it.

We have been engaged in our limited campaign against ISIS for months with mixed results, yet the President’s failure to articulate a broad-based strategy for achieving our stated goal of defeating this regime continues.  In that time, the Islamic State has only continued its campaign of terror both at home and abroad in the months that have passed.  As the Islamic State strengthens both in numbers and influence, our national defense is left without a compass and lives of Christians and other ethnic minorities are at risk.  We live in a dangerous world, and the threats to the United States only continue to grow when we fail to lead on the world’s stage.  Now that we are all formally in agreement that the Islamic State is committing crimes against humanity, we must do more to stop it.

Under Article One of the Constitution, Congress has no greater responsibility than to provide for the defense of our great country, and we will continue to do everything within our power to protect our national security.  In the House, national security remains a top priority, and I urge the President to join us in this essential effort.

If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.

Robert Hurt represents the Fifth District of Virginia in Congress.

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