All week, the G-word has been rattling around the foreign ministries of the world. Ever since John Kerry — he of Israeli-Palestinian peace “in six months” fame — announced that Isis was committing genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims, we’ve been trying to work out just what he’s talking about. Even the poor old Canadians and their super-liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau, have since been refusing to recognise the Isis atrocities as “genocide” — the attempt to exterminate an entire race of people — preferring instead to talk about “crimes perpetrated…against religious and ethnic minorities.” Could this be, ask Canadian critics, because Canada last month withdrew the last of its clapped out CF-18 fighter jets from the battle against Isis?
More likely the Canadians have caught on to the whole genocide trap. But first: yes, Isis have indeed committed horrific crimes against minorities under their control. Their massacre of Shia Muslims and the murder and enslavement of Yazidi and Christian women and children are all real — perhaps 10,000, perhaps 100,000, the figures are as numbing as they are vague. The Isis magazine Dabiq admits all this — perhaps the closest anyone has come to self-incrimination since Pol Pot listed his crimes in Cambodia.
But there’s a problem. These terrible atrocities are being committed on the very land and deserts upon which a far more terrible genocide was perpetrated just over a hundred years ago by the Turks who head-chopped and knifed and shot to death a million and a half Armenian Christians, raping their women and throwing so many of their dead men into the waters of Anatolia that the very rivers changed course. And Turkey — heaven be praised — is now our good friend, NATO ally and, since this month, our bastion against the Muslim refugee “invasion” of Europe. Back in 1915, the Brits and Americans had no problems in naming the guilty party, along with the Turks’ militia ally — again, take in your breath — the Kurds, now our brave allies against the forces of Isis darkness.
All this, you see, is a bit embarrassing. The Yazidis and Christians of Iraq have certainly been massacred — including a few Armenian grandchildren of the 1915 survivors, although that hasn’t cut much ice in the US — although the Shia Muslims of Iraq were being slaughtered in Iraq by the thousand during the latter half of America’s military occupation. The Shia, I suspect, have been given a bloodbath upgrade to genocide because Shia Iran agreed to a nuclear deal with the rest of the world. But back to Yazidis for a moment.
One of the worst genocides against this forlorn, centuries-old religion occurred in 1892 when the Turkish Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II targeted them for mass extermination. But the Sultan included among his victims tens of thousands of 19th-century Armenians — whom Mr. Kerry cannot bring himself to declare victims of genocide in the 20th century (although he did so for many years when he was a mere Senator). So earlier references to Yazidi extermination have to be left out of the Kerry narrative of history. The current Kerry mantra for the Armenian Genocide is “one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.”
Clinton is going to be no help in all this. She regularly condemned the Armenian genocide until she became Secretary of State to Barack Obama and discovered that the frightful persecution of the 1915 Christians — a teaching forum for future Nazis who witnessed the genocide as young German army officers and later put their lessons into practice against the Jews — was now “a matter of historical debate.” Donald Trump has not yet entered this particular blood-boltered ‘debate’ although his Trump hotel in Azerbaijan — a country which, like Turkey and (to its shame) Israel, denies the Armenian genocide — suggests that we shall be hearing from him soon.