Why don’t we protect Iraqi Christians?

World editor Mindy Belz raises a good question about U.S. policy in Iraq:

Three years ago I attended a meeting outside Washington with a NATO adviser recently returned from briefings with commanders of the war in Iraq. The question had been posed to them: If there should be a targeted massacre of Christians in Iraq (the word actually used was genocide), would the U.S. military respond? The answer from the commanders: No.

It was December 2007. Gen. David Petraeus had arrived in Baghdad 10 months earlier bearing orders to carry out his new counterinsurgency strategy with a thrust of 20,000 additional troops throughout the city. Until then, U.S. forces were bogged down in Iraq’s sectarian warfare—with civilian and military casualties sometimes topping 100 a day. That year U.S. casualties hit their all-time high, 904, but fell steadily after Petraeus’ arrival to a low of 59 (over 11 months) in 2010. Decades from now historians will study Petraeus-style warfare launched in 2007 and how it catapulted the U.S. military from its post-Vietnam malaise.

So it’s always been curious to me that the successful strategy to stamp out sectarian violence somehow did not extend to protecting Iraq’s minorities, particularly a Christian population that stretched back nearly 2 millennia and numbered up to 1.5 million under Saddam Hussein. By December 2007, church leaders estimated, that population had been halved through death and displacement to somewhere under 700,000. . . .

Leaving Christians out of the counterinsurgency equation has itself proved decisive. And the result of U.S. military and civilian leaders’ unwillingness to take a vocal and visible stand against targeted violence toward religious minorities continues to unfold—not only in Iraq but across the region.

Consider recent attacks in Iraq: the Oct. 31 assault on a church in Baghdad that killed 58; the Nov. 9 bombing of Christian homes in western Baghdad; Nov. 10 Islamic hits to more than a dozen homes with mortar fire and bombs, leaving four Christians dead and dozens wounded. Some of the homes were singled out because they belonged to mourners who attended funeral services for the Oct. 31 victims. On Nov. 15 in Mosul militants stormed two adjacent homes belonging to Christians, killing two men, then bombed others. On Nov. 16 a Christian father and his 6-year-old daughter were killed by a car bomb. As Elizabeth Kendal, writing for the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, pointed out, “This terror has led to a surge in Christians fleeing Iraq. They will join the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians struggling to survive as refugees in Syria, Turkey and Jordan. They no longer see any reason to risk their lives for a state where, even if they survive, they will be condemned to live as second class citizens (dhimmis).”

via WORLD Magazine | Left out | Mindy Belz | Dec 18, 10.

So why do we risk American lives for a state like that?

The terrorist's day in court

Ahmed Ghailani is a terrorist who killed 224 people.  But the first Guantanamo inmate to be tried in a civilian court was found not guilty of those murders, the result of his blowing up American embassies in Africa in 1998.  He was, though, convicted of conspiracy to destroy government property.

Some of the evidence against him was reportedly obtained by torturing informers, so the judge ruled it inadmissible.

That prosecutors were still able to pin the conspiracy charge–for destroying property, if not lives–is being hailed as a victory, since the penalty will be at least 20 years in prison, if not life.  (Though that seems way too harsh for a crime against property.)  And yet, don’t those lives that were taken cry out for justice, in a way that simply punishing the killer for something else doesn’t satisfy?

That Mr. Ghailani got off for the murder charges shows, to many people, that the civilian courts aren’t right for charging international terrorists, that instead they should be handled by the military commissions set up for this purpose.  Then again, the military courts aren’t allowed to considered evidence obtained by torture either.

A factual question for you lawyers:  Do American constitutional rights apply to non-citizens who committed a crime outside of this country?  That is, are they universal in scope?  If so, there would seem little alternative to excluding evidence from torture, and the blame should be placed not on the courts but on the torturers for making conviction possible.

Also, defenders of using civilian courts claim that we shouldn’t worry, that no terrorist will be allowed to go free, even if he is acquitted, since the government will hold them anyway.  But that is surely would be an even greater violation of the legal system!  If terrorists are found not-guilty or their cases thrown out on a technicality, they SHOULD be released, if a civilian trial has any meaning at all.   If, for some reason, we aren’t going to release them no matter what the court does, it is meaningless to  try them.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how these cases should be handled?

via Analysis: Verdict dims outlook for civilian trials of terrorism detainees.

Not too much Islam, too little Christianity

Lutheran pastor’s kid Angela Merkel, now the chancellor of Germany, had some striking things to say about the immigration debate in that country:

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans debating Muslim integration to stand up more for Christian values, saying Monday the country suffered not from “too much Islam” but “too little Christianity.”

Addressing her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, she said she took the current public debate in Germany on Islam and immigration very seriously. As part of this debate, she said last month that multiculturalism there had utterly failed.

Some of her conservative allies have gone further, calling for an end to immigration from “foreign cultures” — a reference to Muslim countries like Turkey — and more pressure on immigrants to integrate into German society.

Merkel told the CDU annual conference in Karlsruhe that the debate about immigration “especially by those of the Muslim faith” was an opportunity for the ruling party to stand up confidently for its convictions.

“We don’t have too much Islam, we have too little Christianity. We have too few discussions about the Christian view of mankind,” she said to applause from the hall.

via Merkel: Germany doesn’t have “too much Islam” but “too little Christianity” | Analysis & Opinion |.

Christian persecution intensifies in Iraq

Islamic militants in Iraq have turned their attention to their Christian neighbors, declaring that Christians are legitimate targets and bombing Christian neighborhoods.  This follows a recent assault on a church during the worship service that killed more than 40.  From the BBC:

A series of bomb and mortar attacks targeting Christian areas has killed at least five people in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Six districts with strong Christian majorities were hit – more than 30 people have been injured.

The attacks come days after Islamist militants seized a Catholic cathedral and more than 40 were killed. . . .

“Two mortar shells and 10 home-made bombs targeted the homes of Christians in different neighbourhoods of Baghdad between 0600 and 0800 (0300 and 0500 GMT),” an unnamed official told AFP news agency.

An interior ministry source, quoted anonymously by Reuters, said the attacks were directly linked to the siege of the cathedral.

“These operations, which targeted Christians, came as a continuation of the attack that targeted the Salvation church,” the source said.

The BBC’s Jim Muir, in Baghdad, says it is unclear whether Christians were killed. However the intention is clear – to underline a threat from the so-called Islamic State for Iraq, an umbrella group linked to al-Qaeda, that all Christians in the country are now a legitimate target.

via BBC News – Christian areas targeted in deadly Baghdad attacks.

Christians slaughtered in church

Details from the al-Qaeda attack on Christians as they were worshipping in a Baghdad church:

The worshipers heard the first shots and explosions about 20 minutes after the beginning of Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Salvation Church.

Heads turned, the sermon stopped abruptly and the Rev. Wassem Sabeeh quietly began ushering parishioners into a fortified room in the rear of the church.

“We realized these explosions were close,” said Bassam Sami, 21, one of the survivors of the attack on a Baghdad church carried out by heavily armed suicide bombers that left at least 58 people dead. “Father Wassem started pushing people inside the room.”

Once they penetrated the church building, the silent assailants began executing people. “They were well trained,” Sami said. “They didn’t say anything. It was like someone had cut out their tongues.”

The carnage that unfolded during the next few hours outraged many in a city that has seen more than its share of bloodshed. The siege suggested that al-Qaeda in Iraq, the weakened Sunni insurgent group that asserted responsibility for the attack, remains capable of carrying out mass-casualty operations.

The target, an Assyrian Christian church in the upscale Karrada neighborhood, was highly unusual. The extremist group has in the past year directed its dwindling resources toward crippling symbols of the Shiite-led Iraqi government.

An Iraqi official said Monday that investigators had found at the scene three Yemeni and two Egyptian passports thought to have belonged to the suicide bombers. If confirmed, the finding would be alarming to U.S. and Iraqi officials because they say al-Qaeda in Iraq has struggled to recruit foreign fighters in recent years.

In a statement posted on the Internet early Monday, the Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for al-Qaeda in Iraq, asserted responsibility for the attack.

via Survivors describe deadly attack on Baghdad church.

Some of the members were taken hostage, some of whom were killed as Iraqi forces stormed the church.

You are not allowed to say what you think

Juan Williams, the African-American journalist who is often the token liberal on Fox News, was fired by National Public Radio for saying that passengers in Muslim garb on airplanes make him nervous.  This was in the context of arguing with Bill O’Reilly that he should be careful about stereotyping all Muslims as extremists.  See Williams’ self-defense: FoxNews.com – JUAN WILLIAMS: I Was Fired for Telling the Truth.

Other public figures have been getting pilloried for saying that they do not approve of homosexuality or masturbation or evolution or whatever.  These are things that lots of people think, but it’s not socially acceptable to say so.  Is freedom of speech just something for the government to not infringe, or should it be a value that the culture as a whole upholds, if it is to actually be a free society?  That is to say, if people lose their jobs for stating their opinion, do we really have free speech?


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