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A Plea on Behalf of Victims of ISIS/ISIL Barbarism in Iraq

A group of more than 50 American academics and professionals undersigned a plea answering the open letter of Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphael Sako, who wrote: “Before the harsh and heartbreaking realities further afflict these families, the United States of America, also due to their prior involvement in Iraq, the European Union, and the league of Arab countries have the responsibility to act rapidly for a solution”.

Among the signatories were Princeton law professor Robert George; Providence College English professor Anthony Esolen; Notre Dame law professor Gerard Bradley; Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention; and the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Ed Whelan.



Here the whole text of the Plea on Behalf of Victims of ISIS/ISIL Barbarism in Iraq



The so-called Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS/ISIL) is conducting a campaign of genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and others in Iraq. In its fanatical effort to establish a caliphate, ISIS/ISIL has engaged in crimes against humanity by deliberately causing mass starvation and dehydration, and by committing unconscionable acts of barbarism against noncombatants, including defenseless women, children, and elderly persons.



It is imperative that the United States and the international community act immediately and decisively to stop the ISIS/ISIL genocide and prevent the further victimization of religious minorities. This goal cannot be achieved apart from the use of military force to degrade and disable ISIS/ISIL forces. President Obama was right to order airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL to stop its advance on key cities, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to people fleeing their assaults. Much more needs to be done, however, and there is no time to waste.



We, the undersigned, are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We are conservatives, liberals, and moderates. We represent various religious traditions and shades of belief. None of us glorifies war or underestimates the risks entailed by the use of military force. Where non-military means of resolving disputes and protecting human rights are available, we always and strongly favor those means. However, the evidence is overwhelming that such means will not be capable of protecting the victims of the genocide already unfolding at the hands of ISIS/ISIL. That is why Iraq’s Chaldean Patriarch Sako has requested military intervention.



Therefore we call upon the United States and the international community to do everything necessary to empower local forces fighting ISIS/ISIL in Iraq to protect their people. No options that are consistent with the principles of just war doctrine should be off the table. We further believe that the United States’ goal must be more comprehensive than simply clamping a short-term lid on the boiling violence that is threatening so many innocents in ISIS/ISIL’s path. Nothing short of the destruction of ISIS/ISIL as a fighting force will provide long-term protection of victims.



We call upon President Obama and the Congress of the United States to expand airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL with a view to eroding its military power, and to provide full air support for Kurdish and other forces fighting against ISIS/ISIL. Further, we endorse the Washington Post’s call for the United States to provide arms, ammunition, and equipment to Kurdish forces, Sunni tribesmen, and others who are currently hampered in their ability to fight ISIS/ISIL by a lack of sophisticated weapons and other resources. The U.S. should also assist with intelligence. We are hopeful that local forces, with adequate support and assistance from the U.S. and the international community, can defeat ISIS/ISIL.



The expansion of humanitarian aid to the displaced and fleeing is also urgent.
Local churches and aid agencies are overwhelmed, and we have grave concerns about how these victims of violent religious persecution will be cared for this winter. The U.S. can and should take the lead in providing food, water, medicine, and other essential supplies.



We must be mindful that in addition to stopping the genocide, the U.S. and Europe have very concrete interests in disabling ISIS/ISIL. As the Washington Post has warned:



“The Islamic State forces, which have captured large numbers of U.S.-supplied heavy weapons, threaten not only the Iraqi and Kurdish governments, but also Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. With hundreds of Western recruits, they have the ambition and capability to launch attacks against targets in Europe and the United States.”



It is also worth bearing in mind that our own nation is not without responsibility for the plight of victims of ISIS/ISIL genocide. What is happening to these people now, and the further threats they face, would not be happening but for errors and failures of our nation’s own in Iraq. This can and should be acknowledged by all, despite disagreements we may have among ourselves as to precisely what these errors and failures were, and which political and military leaders are mainly responsible for them. The point is not to point fingers or apportion blame, but to recognize that justice as well as compassion demands that we take the steps necessary to end the ISIL/ISIS campaign of genocide and protect those who are its victims.





Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University


Benjamin S Carson Sr MD, Emeritus Professor of Neurosurgery,Oncology,Plastic Surgery and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Medicine, President and CEO American Business Collaborative, LLC


Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice, Union Theological Seminary


Russell Moore, Ph.D., President, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention


James R. Stoner, Jr., Professor of Political Science, Louisiana State University


Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Univesity


Edward Whelan, President, Ethics and Public Policy Center


Matthew J. Franck, Witherspoon Institute


William Happer, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Princeton University


Prof. Dan Robinson, Philosophy Faculty, Oxford University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University


David Mills


Micah J. Watson, Ph.D, Director, Center for Politics & Religion; Associate Professor, Political Science, Union University


Alan Charles Kors, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania


Anthony M. Esolen, Professor of English, Providence College


John Londregan, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University


Fr. John Cassar


Thomas Kelly, Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University


Rabbi Eliezer Bercuson, Princeton University


Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy


C. Ben Mitchell, PhD, Interim Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University


Thomas F. Farr, Director, Religious Freedom Project, Visiting Associate Professor, Georgetown University


Lauren Weiner


Ben Cohen, Writer and Political Analyst, New York City


Robert J. Lieber, Georgetown University


Michael Stokes Paulsen, University Chair & Professor of Lae, The University of St. Thomas


Katherine Kersten, Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis, MN


Patrick Lee, Franciscan University of Steubenville


Sol Stern, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute


Jonathan Brent


Josh Block, Chief Executive Officer & President, The Israel Project


Richard Weissman, Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado at Denver; Adjunct Professor, Portland Community College


Martin Peretz, Editor-in-Chief, The New Republic, 1974-2012;Lecturer in Social Studies, Harvard University, 1971-2008


Fred Litwin, President, Free Thinking Film Society


Leon Wieseltier


Abigail Thernstrom, Adjunct Scholar, American Enterprise Institute


Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Professor of History Emeritus, Harvard University


Jeffrey Herf, Distinguished University Professor, Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park


John B. Sprung, Lt. Col., USAF (Ret.)


Vladimir Tismaneanu, Professor of Politics, University of Maryland (College Park)


Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College


Harvey Klehr, Emory University


Russell A. Berman, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University


Richard Landes, Professor of History, Boston University


Alfred Kentigern Siewers, Associate Professor in English, Bucknell University


Melissa Moschella, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Catholic University of America


Leila Beckwith, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, University of California at Los Angeles


Ralph (Benjamin) Stell, Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church


Victoria F. Gibson


Nina Shea, Director of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom


James Kirchick, Foreign Policy Initiative


Louis Menashe, Professor Emeritus, Polytechnic Institute of NYU


Sally Muravchik


Dulany Gibson, Princeton, NJ


Mitch Pearlstein, Ph.D. , Founder & President, Center of the American Experiment, Minneapolis


David A. Michelson, Assistant Prof. of the History of Christianity, Vanderbilt University


Benjamin Storey, Furman University


Joshua Muravchik, Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute; The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies


Ronald Radosh, Adjunct Fellow, The Hudson Institute


Allis Radosh, Historian and author


Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University


Robert T. Miller, Professor of Law and F. Arnold Daum Fellow in Corporate Law at the University of Iowa College of Law, and Senior Scholar at the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University School of Law.


Daniel Mark, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Villanova University


Kenneth R. Weinstein, President and CEO, Hudson Institute


Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family


Rev. Matthew Ristuccia, Stone Hill Church, Princeton, New Jersey



Affiliations are for purposes of identification only and do not imply institutional endorsement