The terror known as ISIS has been sweeping the Middle East and has now been given the official label of genocide from the United States government. The Editorial Board hopes this will spur some action and collaboration within the international community against ISIS.
According to The Atlantic, Secretary of State John Kerry’s use of the word genocide to mark ISIS’ campaigns in Iraq and Syria was just the second time in U.S. history that the State Department had declared an international situation a genocide in real time.
The only other time was in 2004, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the crisis in Darfur at the time was a genocide.
What does this formal declaration of genocide mean in terms of the U.S.’ role in fighting ISIS?
According to NBC News, a spokesman from the State Department named Mark Toner previously stated that a definition of genocide “would not necessarily result in any particular legal obligation for the United States” in terms of foreign policy.
The NBC News article noted that a label of genocide could incite prosecution from the International Criminal Court or a different legal body for the countries of Syria and Iraq.
The definition of genocide from the U.S., which plays a major part in global affairs, could add pressure for the international community to take action against ISIS.
That pressure could continue to build.
The New York Times reported that human rights investigators from the United Nations recently accused ISIS of committing genocide and war crimes.
The U.S. and the U.N. both labeling the actions of ISIS as genocide might spur increased international attention and action in the Middle East to confound the issue of ISIS and how to solve it.
For the time being, it appears that the definition of genocide from the U.S. might not affect current policy in the Middle East.
According to the Department of Defense, the U.S. is currently employing a plan titled “Operation Inherent Resolve” to try to eliminate ISIS with air strikes and bombing campaigns in Syria and Iraq.
To properly handle the threat of ISIS, however, the Editorial Board argues that the U.S. should seek the increased aid of the international community to formulate a coherent global strategy to contain and ultimately defeat ISIS.
By seeking the aid of other countries, the U.S. can create military strategies and policies that benefit a majority of the Middle East’s citizens.
Simply labeling the actions of a terrorist group as genocide may not be enough to prevent that group from committing harmful attacks in the future. The U.S. must partner with other nations in its goal to contain the spread of ISIS’ hateful and incredibly damaging extremism and rhetoric.