SocraticGadfly: Clinton pandering, triangulation and maybe warhawking over #genocide by #ISIS or not in Iraq

December 30, 2015

Clinton pandering, triangulation and maybe warhawking over #genocide by #ISIS or not in Iraq

Hillary Clinton, playing Hamlet for Politico, indicates that she's willing to take the oh-so-tough decision of breaking with President Obama and calling ISIS's killing of Christians in Iraq genocide.

On Twitter, which is where I saw the link, Doug Henwood disagrees, snarkily, noting that he doesn't think it's genocide:

Per Doug, if Hillary Clinton said that, not only would I open the blinds, I'd go outside to check. And, as I told Doug, I like the assumedly deliberate direction reversal.

My concerns are other.

First, per the Politico piece, genocide declarations have little teeth, and basically no teeth at all against a non-state actor like ISIS. Given that Clinton was a former Secretary of State, and State is basically in charge of a lot of the relevant issues, she damn well knows that.

She also knows that from her husband's experience, as the U.S. did little but hand-wringing over Rwanda even after a genocide declaration.

So, it's pandering, since a couple of dozen Congresscritters have already pushed for such a declaration.

Besides all that, Obama is planning a genocide declaration against ISIS because of the Yazidis, per the Politico piece. And thus it's triangulation, as well, the Clinton claim that genocide also is against Christians in Iraq, since a fair amount of the push to have Obama declare this comes from the Religious Right. But, just because he's hypocritical (how many boots on the ground are YOU sending, Dear Leader, since bombing is of, er, less than optimal effectiveness?) doesn't mean that two hypocriticalities make a right.

As for the specific issue at hand, international law doesn't provide a percentage requirement for what constitutes genocide. Yet, per what I can tell, the percentage of people deliberately killed for religion by ISIS/ISIL is definitely smaller among Christians than Yazidis. Given that Yazidism is syncretistic of Islam and Zoroastrianism, mainly, it may draw extra ire. Per this NYT piece, about the "rape culture" of ISIS, the facts that the Yazidis are polytheists (more here), it seems, and not a "People of the Book," adds to ultra-fundamentalist Islamic contempt. Hence, if this all is a guide, Obama is right, right now.

(And, given that Obama has indicated that his administration likely will enter a finding of genocide re the Yazidis, the NYT piece linked just above, while horrific and disgusting, has no relevance to wanting to expand said declaration to cover Christians in Iraq, or Syria. None.)

Beyond that, if it's genocide by ISIS against Christians, why wasn't it genocide by al Qaeda before splinterings, makeovers and whatever else? If it's very clear to candidate Clinton that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians, not just Yazidis, why wasn't it clear about al Qaeda to Secretary Clinton? Or, to really throw the haggis in the fire, quoting Scotty of Star Trek fame, why not a finding of genocide by ISIS against Shi'ites?

Or, for that matter, if any finding of genocide by ISIS includes territory in Syria as well as Iraq, I'll bet we could get a finding against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. I mean, he did cross a red line publicly stated by Dear Leader by using chemical weapons.

Beyond that, what purpose is there of a second genocide declaration? If one of them has real teeth, it's like killing a person with an H-bomb instead of an A-bomb to have a second declaration. If one is toothless, it's like shooting a person with two water pistols instead of one.

That said, we know Clinton is more of a warhawk than Bernie Sanders, and probably more of a warhawk than her husband. After all, she did, in my opinion, "wear the pants in the family" more than he did, often times. And, for Hillarybot feminists who don't like that metaphor, I'll top you by reminding you that SHE quoted a famous, or infamous, Tammy Wynette song.

So, if you want to go beyond Rwanda hand-wringing, Madame Secretary, how many boots on the ground are you planning on sending to Iraq if you're elected president of These United States? If not that, what other actions do you plan?

Contra Amy Fried, who also didn't like that rhetorical question, it's a legitimate one, even were the declaration made against the nation of Iraq. It's even more legitimate against a non-nation state terror group. And, it's very legitimate when I'm told on Twitter to "do some research," when I already have more an idea what I'm talking about than she does.

Otherwise, we're in the land of rhetoric, where the epithet-thrower is king. Or queen, if you're a Hillarybot. Especially now that Amy Fried seems to think the Godwin's Law angle, or a milder version of it, is the next tactic. Saying we should worry as much about ISIS as Nazi Germany is ridiculous. And, Henwood's right on this, again: If you do believe that, then what action, not rhetoric, do you support?

And, that squares the circle again. Pandering, triangulation, or both, none of this should be of any surprise to people who track Hillary Clinton with a skeptical, gimlet eye.

Also, myths about smallpox blankets aside, under that international law definition, if exact percentages aren't involved, U.S. action against American Indians is arguably genocide.

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