A portrait of America’s new enemy, courtesy of Britain’s Daily Mail. Or rather, a self-portrait: The pics were taken and circulated online by ISIS itself. This is how they want the world to see them. The Einsatzgruppen shied away from photos when it came time to line people up and gun them down (although some pictures did emerge, of course). Over time, even the dregs of humanity within the SS began to feel the psychological weight of blasting defenseless civilians standing right in front of them, which led Himmler to brainstorm a less messy form of mass murder. Scroll through the Mail photos and see if you can find any trace of misgivings. One jihadi is smiling while he saws a man’s head off. However many of these degenerates we end up killing, we’re not killing enough.
Over at Time, Michael Crowley asks a good question. Didn’t candidate Obama insist in 2007 that genocide in Iraq isn’t our problem?
Obama said. “[If] that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done.”…
Did Obama flip-flop on a matter as serious as genocide? That would be too glib a conclusion. Seven years after Obama’s comments in New Hampshire, Iraq is a different place. The U.S. Army is long gone, and taking action there doesn’t prolong an ongoing occupation. Nor is Obama ordering anything like a reinvasion of the country. He has authorized — though not yet specifically ordered — only limited strikes against ISIS fighters in the region. “We are not launching a sustained US campaign against [ISIS] here,” a senior Administration official told reporters Thursday night.
What’s more, Obama’s new urgency, while framed mainly in humanitarian terms, is about something more. Obama is also prepared to use air strikes to prevent Sunni militants from storming the Kurdish capital of Erbil — a vital city to an important regional ally, and one the U.S. would protect even if dozens of U.S. diplomats and military advisers were not stationed there…
Mount Sinjar today has much in common with the Benghazi of 2011. The U.S. can act in a limited way to prevent a great atrocity (and, in this case, with the support of the national government — which the senior Obama official says would give any air strikes legitimacy under international law).
That’s an impressive grab bag of rationalizations for O’s reversal: Intervening now won’t extend an occupation, the Kurds are too important to abandon, the Yazidis’ predicament is a kinda sorta unique situation where we can prevent a particular act of genocide, etc. But the truth, I think, is simpler and truer to his M.O. Bluntly, Obama changed because the politics changed. In 2007, if you were running to be the Democratic nominee, the answer to any question involving further intervention in Iraq was no. Genocide committed by jihadi fanatics? No. Iran crossing the border to purge Iraq’s Sunnis? No. Saddam rising from the dead with a 50-megaton nuclear weapon in his pocket? No. And Obama had more reason than most to stick to a strictly noninterventionist line. Hillary, of course, had voted for the Iraq war (as had his eventual VP) whereas Obama had opposed the war early, in 2002. That was the smoking-gun proof he was offering liberals and other Democrats that his judgment was better than hers. For him to have said “Oh, sure, we’d bomb a jihadi group that’s reviving Nazi tactics against minorities” would have risked that advantage. Now that he’s a lame-duck president and most liberals are willing to defend anything he does, up to and including risking a constitutional crisis by unilaterally rewriting federal immigration law, he’s more worried about his legacy than about an election. If he stands by while ISIS slaughters thousands of people (sorry, thousands more people than they’ve already slaughtered), that’ll be his legacy — the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize, finally got us out of Iraq, and then did jack while jihadi Nazis took over the country. The politics changed, so he did too.