Gareth Evans, humanitarian intervention, A Responsibility to Protect Iraqis? Christophe Petit Tesson/ZumaPress

A Responsibility to Protect Iraqis?

Shia and other non-Sunnis in the path of the marauding Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have plenty of reason to fear mass atrocities. But it would be premature to conclude that violence against the defenseless has already occurred – or is imminent – on the scale necessary to justify outside military intervention.

CANBERRA – Only one possible justification – moral, political, or military – exists for renewed Western or other external military intervention in Iraq: meeting the international responsibility to protect victims, or potential victims, of mass atrocity crimes – genocide, ethnic cleansing, other crimes against humanity, or major war crimes.

Shia and other non-Sunnis in the path of the marauding ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) – a group whose ideology and behavior are too extreme even for Al Qaeda to stomach – have plenty of reason to fear such atrocities. Ugly executions of military and other captives have undoubtedly occurred in Mosul, Tikrit, and other cities seized by ISIS.

But, based on the evidence currently available, it would be premature to conclude that violence against the defenseless has already occurred – or is imminent – on the scale necessary to justify outside military intervention.

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