Bigger US role battling genocide?
A task force's findings, urging US leadership, may dovetail with ideas of Obama administration.
A genocide prevention task force concludes that US leadership, early warnings, preventive diplomacy, and coordinated international action are crucial elements of any effort to prevent the kind of mass killings that have ravaged Sudan's Darfur and the Congo.Skip to next paragraph
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That may sound like another well-meaning Washington study destined to gather dust. But the fate of this task force – led by two Clinton administration foreign-policy heavyweights, Madeleine Albright and William Cohen – might be a little brighter. One reason: The conclusion of its year-long labor corresponds with President-elect Obama's naming to his national-security team a diplomat who has advocated swift action when genocide threatens.
Susan Rice, Mr. Obama's pick to be the US ambassador to the United Nations, had experience with the Rwanda genocide of the 1990s during her years as a chief Africa diplomat under the Clinton administration. Since then – most recently as chief foreign-policy adviser to candidate Obama – Ms. Rice has advocated a tough response, including US military intervention if necessary, to prevent mass killings of unprotected populations.
In unveiling their report Monday, the task-force co-chairs emphasized that they anticipate a favorable response from the new administration on placing a high priority on genocide prevention. "Obama has made very clear he is concerned about Darfur and Congo ... and various places where we are seeing genocide take place or mass atrocities potentially" occurring, former Clinton Secretary of State Albright said.
Mr. Cohen, who served as President Clinton's secretary of Defense, cited the intervention experience of Obama appointees Robert Gates, who will stay on as secretary of Defense, and retired Gen. Jim Jones, who is to be the new president's national-security adviser. "We'll find a very responsive administration," Cohen said at a task-force press conference in Washington.
The report focuses on the role of leadership, from the president on down, in preventing genocide and the need for policy revisions and updates to fit the task to today's world. But the report – noting that President Bush declared "not on my watch" after reviewing the mass killings in Rwanda, only to see Darfur unfold during his tenure – concludes that preventive diplomacy and early action must complement leadership.