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Monday, 14 March 2016

Call it Genocide!

I keep reading, (from both sides of the question, and in fact, both political parties, and finally both ends of the spectrum of governmental philosophy,) about the legal ramifications that would result from the Obama administration's and Sec. of State Kerry's making a declaration that the ongoing slaughter by ISIS/Daesh/ISIL of Christians, Yazidis, Muslims from other branches, and other religious and ethnic minorities is "genocide."
The White House press secretary said that,
"that word involves a very specific legal determination."  
And a few days later,
"The decision to apply this term to this situation is an important one.  It has significant consequences, and it matters for a whole variety of reasons, both legal and moral.  But it doesn’t change our response.  And the fact is that this administration has been aggressive, even though that term has not been applied, in trying to protect religious minorities who are victims or potential victims of violence.....
there is an independent determination that needs to be made based on a very specific legal definition that our lawyers are considering right now.  And while that legal consideration and while that legal definition is important, and I certainly wouldn’t downplay the significance of the use of that term, we have been quite aggressive in both speaking out against but also taking tangible steps to try to protect religious minorities who are the victims of persecution."
That seems smarmy in the extreme, to me, we're doing everything we would do already anyway, so it's just semantics. Then why not?
The moral obligation is obvious, and not accepting them by refusing to use the term seems heinous to me, but what of these supposed legal obligation?
Are their obligations enshrined in US law?
Because the U.N.'s "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" to which we are signatories places a very light burden indeed.
Read them, they are startilingly lacking in rigor. Penalties in keeping with a country's constitution, and extradition, that's pretty much it.
And Obama and Kerry surely don't share the right-wing hesitancy to place ourselves under the direction of the UN's rules.
You know, 'cause the UN is a bunch of commie third world-types trying to establish a one-world government. You know, under The Beast.

And what is this "very specific legal definition" with which the White House is trying to align? And where?
Not, again, in the UN's convention.
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The reluctance to call the bloodbaths and extermination in Syria "genocide," smells to me very like the diplomatic diffidence regarding Turkey's massacres of Armenians - oh, no, we mustn't pin an offensive label on anyone off of whom we might later wish to make money.

It smells like it, and it stinks.

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