Deja vu on Mount Sinjar
Deja vu on Mount Sinjar –
By Christy Stutzman
Photo of Armenians being rescued from Musa Dagh after 40 days of resistance to Turkish forces. Armeniapedia.org
It’s like, deja vu almost 100 years later. The pictures brazenly posted by the terrorist group calling themselves Islamic State are horrifying. This barbaric, blood-thirsty organization has performed the most horrific, evil acts on the innocent since World War II. The difference now is that they aren’t hiding their atrocities in concentration camps. They are broadcasting them to the world without apology.
Whatever your view regarding the conflicts in Turkey in 1915 under the Young Turks government, one mass rescue and evacuation took place that year that no one denies. The world was at war and turmoil was rampant. Seeing the signs of coming conflict and danger for their people, over 4,000 Christian Armenians from six different villages in northern Turkey, meticulously planned a desperate escape into Musa Dagh (Moses’ Mountain). In spite of months of careful planning and making use of all the resources available to them, they knew they could not hold out against the government forces for too long. They decided it would be better to die on the mountain, rather than face forced marches through the desert to relocation camps and almost certain death.
With very few guns and little ammunition, these simple villagers defended themselves for 53 days. Supplies began to run low and their numbers began to dwindle. They had few options. The rest of the world was in the throws of World War I. They sent a runner to Alleppo to beg the American Consul for help, but the messenger never got through. They sent swimmers to look for war ships, but none could be found. They had no means of communication. No one in the outside world knew of their plight.
In their desperation, they crafted two distress flags and attached them to tall trees on the side of the mountain facing the Mediterranean Sea. One bore a large red cross and the other, these words in English: “CHRISTIANS IN DISTRESS: RESCUE.” On Sept. 12, 1915, after 53 days under siege, a lookout spotted a ship in close range, and the Armenian villagers began desperately waving their distress flag. As the French ship Guichen lowered her boats, one of the villagers swam to the cruiser. The ship’s captain, upon learning of the dire distress of the 4,000 refugees, sent out a telegraph to nearby ships pleading for assistance in performing an immediate evacuation.
The French ship St. Jeanne d’Arc soon arrived along with two others. An English cruiser in the area heard the call and soon arrived as well. Within hours, a mass evacuation was in full force. More than 4,000 souls were rescued that day in a large-scale, impromptu evacuation by ships and sailors who had no preparation for such a mission. They simply reacted to the crisis in an effort to save lives.
Almost 100 years later, with access to 24-hour news cycles, constant real-time reporting, wi-fi, cell phones and social media, history is repeating itself. But this time, what is our excuse? We’re not talking two distress flags on an obscure mountain barely viewable to the human eye. We’re talking widespread knowledge of thousands of people in danger. We have Coptic Christians, Syrian Christians, Yazidis and various sects of moderate Islam posting on social media and screaming to live cameras, “IN DISTRESS: RESCUE.” We are watching this unfold before our very eyes. The French were the first to offer asylum to the Yazidi refugees, but where is America?
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Islamic State group is “… Beyond any terrorist group. … tremendously well-funded,” and he went on to say, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything. The only way you do that is you take a cold, steely hard look at it and get ready.”
Get ready? It seems open ended to say the least. “Beyond anything we’ve seen?” I disagree. We’ve seen evil before, just not as it happens. When evil has reared its head, America has always forcefully and completely defeated it! This can only be done with leadership motivated by the necessity of preserving liberty. The Obama administration has illustrated its version of leadership by combining classroom theories with feel-good slogans, sprinkled with political hyperbole.
Remember the oft-repeated slogan: “Osama bin Laden is dead and GM is alive?” Bold, braggadocios words, and yet this administration’s first attempt at international relations was an apology, followed by half-measures that tied the hands of our military to the point of frustration. The real result has been a projection of weakness to those who only wish to destroy.
A true leader can see the consequences of his actions further down the road better than those he’s leading, and he takes action accordingly. The public announcement of our date of withdrawal gave the terrirfying Islamic State time to plan and prepare. That rushed withdrawal left a vacuum in effective power. Now, the Islamic State group has proudly displayed large arsenals of sophisticated American weapons, vehicles and machinery, acquired in Syria and Iraq after our withdrawal, and they have used them to inflict sadistic death and destruction on thousands of innocent civilians.
The Yazidis have been on Mount Sinjar longer than the Armenians were on Musa Dagh, and the world has had much more coverage and confirmation of the atrocities which they have endured. Where is our massive humanitarian rescue effort? For the past week, our attention has been focused on the racial tensions, riots and looting in Ferguson, Missouri. Yes, that must be addressed and solved. But it would reassure the vast majority of Americans so much more to see Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel landing in an allied country to organize a rescue mission for the Yazidi refugees rather than seeing the image of Attorney General Eric Holder landing in Missouri to visit one family in distress. Answering the call to save thousands of lives appeals to the “better angels of our nature” and would result in unifying our nation when it is in dire need of it.
A few helicopters dropping some supplies will not suffice. Neither will a few strategic air strikes or providing fire arms to the Peshmerga. Charitable organizations like Samaritan’s Purse do not have what is needed for the size of this crisis. With such atrocities as beheadings, crucifixions and mutilations of children taking place, there is no time for half-measures.
At his press conference addressing the beheading of James Foley, President Obama stated about the Islamic State terrorists, “People like this ultimately fail.” I hope we realize that that failure is not naturally inevitable. Evil fails when good people take action.