Not since the Cambodian holocaust under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge has the West so callously stood by while a brutal dictator's forces wiped out an innocent people.
Since Saddam Hussein insists on violating the norms of civilization, the gulf war coalition partners should modify their goals to include his ouster and internal autonomy for the Kurds.Toward that end, even though the formal cease-fire has begun, we should use air strikes to destroy all Iraqi units that have been attacking Kurdish civilians.
The United States, which controls Iraq's skies and occupies a fifth of its territory, wields enough leverage to expel Saddam from power.
Although the United Nations has relaxed the blockade against shipments of all goods except food and medicine, we should link the full repeal of all sanctions to a change of regimes.
As long as Saddam stays in power, the ruthless repression of opposition at home will continue and support of terrorists abroad will resume.
New leaders, lacking Saddam's personal power, would be far more susceptible to foreign influence and persuasion.
The allies must link an end to sanctions to an autonomy agreement between the successor regime and the Kurds.
The United States should not press for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan or arm guerrilla forces, but, in the aftermath of Baghdad's atrocities, should insist on a pact between Kurdish leaders and Baghdad that upholds Iraqi territorial integrity but cedes genuine autonomy to the Kurds.
The United States must shield the Kurds from further attacks by Saddam's forces.
President Bush has prohibited Iraqi military activity north of the 36th parallel. U.S. armed forces should quickly establish peace camps on this territory and facilitate the distribution of food and the provision of medical treatment by international humanitarian agencies.
But since thousands of Kurds live further south, the coalition partners should declare a policy of retaliating against any Iraqi forces attacking rebels below the 36th parallel.
Saddam would have no choice but to comply.
The United States should match the European Community's $180 million pledge for humanitarian relief. But we should force Iraq to repay this sum from its future oil revenues, just as it will pay reparations to Kuwait.
Critics might object that intervention would destabilize the region.
But the deluge of refugees - about 1 million have reached the Turkish and Iranian borders - has swamped local assistance agencies: Inaction will cause more instability and suffering than forceful action.
Others might argue that intervention would violate international law by using force to interfere in Iraq's internal affairs.
But international law sanctions the use of force under the doctrine of humanitarian intervention to prevent large-scale loss of life at the hands of barbaric regimes. If the Kurdish crisis does not meet that legal test, the doctrine has lost its meaning.
In the post-Cold War world a major human-rights concern will be the repression of ethnic minorities in multinational states. If we continue to stand idly by while Iraq brutalizes the Kurds we will implicitly signal other leaders that we will not protest repression of national minorities in their countries.
Rightly or wrongly, the Kurds joined with the United States and its coalition in trying to bring down Saddam. If we refuse to take minimal steps to protect them from his vindictiveness we will taint our troops' victory in Operation Desert Storm.
(Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.)