As it expands, ISIS displaces and kills those who stand in its way. This past Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry labeled its actions against the Yezidis, a Kurdish group, and other minority groups, such as Christians and Shiite Muslims, as genocide. The term first began floating around in the summer of 2014 when ISIS surrounded Yezidis on Mount Sinjar, forcing them to either starve or surrender.
This horrible act developed support for President Obama’s airstrike order to open up an escape route. The shift in policy displays the power of the term “genocide.”
Can an official description truly inspire drastic change in the response to ISIS? Genocide became a war crime when the UN coined it after World War II. The term “genocide” has a gory and tragic history. It broaches events like the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide. As people internalize new feelings of discomfort, anger and empathy, hopefully countries will support offensive action.
There is much disagreement on how to deal with ISIS. Linking the Islamic State with genocide could be the idea that unites countries against ISIS.