Violence Isn’t The Only Solution To the Iraqi Genocide

TOPSHOTS-IRAQ-UNREST-ARMY-EXECUTION
ISIS executes members of the Iraqi National Army. Photo from CNN.com

During the Winter War of 1939 & 1940, the entire Finnish population of Karelia, some 422,000, people were evacuated to avoid potential civilian slaughter. In May and June of 1940, Operation Dynamo removed 339,000 British and French troops from Dunkirk, France, shuffling them across the English channel before they were annihilated by oncoming German tanks.

More recently, from August to October of 1990, Air India found its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civilian airliner. They removed over 111,000 people from Amman to Mumbai via 488 flights over a span of 59 days. In 1999, the Kosovo War resulted in 800,000 refugees sweeping into other parts of Europe and even Israel, where locals opened up their homes and took them in. 

Right now, there’s approximately 40,000 Iraqi civilians facing dire circumstances at the hands of ISIS. The above examples are just a few of the many which prove that humanity is capable much larger evacuations than what it would take to prevent a genocide in Iraq. And yet, America has chosen to continue with it’s standard operating procedure which entails bombing the enemies and dropping a few humanitarian supplies.

And if you take a sweeping glance through social media, you’ll see insurmountable support for the use of violent intervention and the belief that more killing is the only solution to saving the scores of civilians fleeing the wrath of ISIS:

“Kill ISIS!”

“They deserve to be slaughtered like pigs!”

“They (ISIS) need to be fought…with great abandon.” 

But violence is not the answer. It shouldn’t be and it can’t be.

 

Or have we forgotten the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr?

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

How about Mahatma Gandhi?

“Permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence.”

“There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.” - Mahatma Gandhi
“There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Or what of Jesus Christ?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ ‘But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven'” (Matt. 5:43-45)

How about Paul? And the Levitical law?

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:18-19, cf. Duet. 32:35)

Have we forgotten that those who live by the sword will die by the sword? And are we unaware that, in a cruel twist of irony it is often innocent civilians who will die as a casualty as well?

Have we forgotten?

Violence as a solution to violence is like pouring dirty water into a wound in an attempt to prevent infection; it may seem like we’ve accomplished something, but really we’ve made the problem infinitely worse.

After all, as Benjamin Corey and numerous others have pointed out it was the United States’ implementation of violence that put Iraqi Christians in this situation to begin with. When we invaded Iraq and disposed of Saddam Hussein, we created a power vacuum in a dangerously unstable area of the globe. The chaos and frustration the United States experienced when trying to stabilize Iraq were red flags to the endless problems that would await the struggling government upon our withdrawal. History textbooks do not leave one much to hope for what occurs violence precedes power vacuums in unstable areas (do I need to bring up World War I followed by the economic instability of the 1920’s in Europe?). Years before the last Yankee boot left Iraqi soil, shadows of what would follow appeared in reports that conditions for Christians in the country had significantly worsened with the instability brought on by the war. 

And yet, here we are again, calling wrath upon our enemies and refusing to believe that there’s any solution other than violence.

But why isn’t evacuation an option?

Look, I get it. I know it’s not as easy as landing a Boeing 747, opening the door and asking everyone to get in a line according to seat number. Evacuations are difficult, they cost money, they take time and there is a risk that violence might be involved. Plus, where would we take all the refugees? Heaven knows, Americans don’t really like immigrants.

It’d be a messy situation. But don’t pretend dropping bombs isn’t just as messy, just as expensive and just as hazardous. The difference is we don’t deal with the effects of bombs dropping half a world away; our hands don’t get dirty. But if we evacuate refugees to our country, they might.

And that’s my real issue with this whole dilemma. Excuse me for being cynical, but I have to wonder if we actually care about what’s happening to these people, if we actually care enough to find a solution that doesn’t involve the quick and easy ‘kill’ button.

Because, as it stands, we don’t care enough to follow Christ’s command and pray for our enemies, to demand that our government sends our tax dollars towards an something better than just dropping bombs. We don’t care enough to support something like an evacuation, enough to be willing to open up our homes, our towns, and our cities in order to house these people in our own country. The atrocity is on the other side of the world and as long as we drop bombs and take names to lift up in our Sunday morning prayer hour, then that’s where it will stay. Only God, after all, can judge the dead. But we’d actually have to house the living if we evacuated them.

Violence towards ISIS isn’t the only solution to what’s happening in Iraq. We are not helpless save for the option of directing our missiles and hate towards ISIS. There are other options, better options, options that involve praying for the people we really wish were dead, opening up our homes to refugees, opening up our minds to the possibility of taking these people into our country. There are options that involve dropping our weapons and thinking of creative ways in which we might help those in need without more bloodshed and more killing. Things like this has been done numerous times before, so why not now?

There are solutions to the Iraqi genocide that don’t involve violence, solutions that honor Christ.

It’s time we start considering them. It’s time we start caring like Christians.

This past week, the United States started making humanitarian air drops of food and water to refugees stranded in northern regions of Iraq. Photo from NBC.com
This past week, the United States started making humanitarian air drops of food and water to refugees stranded in northern regions of Iraq. Photo from NBC.com
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5 thoughts on “Violence Isn’t The Only Solution To the Iraqi Genocide

  1. Okay, I see your point that fighting fire with fire doesn’t make any kind of sense. On the other hand, doesn’t evacuating an entire population seem kind of like giving up? I don’t mean with a macho I-could-never-admit-that-all-of-my-decisions-aren’t-perfect attitude. But in a “giving violent people what they want doesn’t seem to be a great solution either” kind of way. I don’t think we could call it a success to evacuate 40,000 people from their homes and villages and transplant them to various western countries. That would be giving into ISIS, admitting that if they use violence, the west will give into their demands and rid them of those pesky Christians.

    Nonviolent resistance is what the Civil Rights movement (plus Gandhi and Nelson Mandela too) were all about. Not fighting. Not running away. Nonviolent resistance. I could go on, but I’m probably rambling. Thoughts?

    1. I think those are great thoughts. Non-violent resistance is a great route. In this case, that would mean martyrdom which isn’t something to force on any people group or just leave our brothers and sisters too. However, I have heard (and this is unconfirmed and off the record) that some of the Christian sects involved are of an Orthodox branch who are pacifistic and do consider martyrdom the highest honor thus do not want violent interference from the US. Again, I read something about that in passing and I couldn’t substantiate it but they wouldn’t be the first Christians in history to say “please don’t interfere, I want it this way”.

      To your point of “doesn’t this just seem like letting violence win” I’m going to give what may seem like a cop-out but I’m really not trying to use it as one. I think that the cross is the ultimate example what seems like giving into violence is actually victorious. Jesus never said it would seem like we’re winning when he said “love your enemies” he just said do it. Either way, I think you raise a valid point- is evacuation the absolute RIGHT answer? Probably. But I still argue it’s a much better answer than bombing ISIS.

  2. The last part reminds me of a chapter in Theirs is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America by Robert Lupton.
    He writes, “It is a haunting reminder of the energy I spend avoiding the cost of loving others. I establish an emergency relief fund instead of inviting hungry families to sit at my table. I develop a housing program to avoid the turmoil of displaced families living in my home. I create employment projects that distance me from the aggravation of working with undisciplined people. As a counselor I maintain some detachment with a fifty-minute hour and an emphasis on client self-responsibility. And even as I share the gospel with the needy, I secretly hope that God will handle their problems…

    Yet I fear contagion. I fear my life will get out of control, and I will be overwhelmed by the urgent affairs of others. I fear for my family. I resist the Christ who beckons his followers to lay down their lives for each other. His talk of a yoke, a cross, of bearing one another’s burdens and giving one’s self away is not attractive to me. The implications of entering this world of suffering as a “Christ-one,” as yeast absorbed into the loaf of human need, are as terrifying as death itself. Yet this is the only way to life.”

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