Issue 10, Spring 2012
"Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled the latest artful attempt at avoiding responsibility to prevent genocide. With his newly created 'Atrocities Prevention Board,' the president has bestowed new meaninglessness to the term 'never again,' that mantra mouthed by countless world leaders before Obama, and one that will no doubt be repeated endlessly after the current occupant of the White House leaves office.
"Established last year by presidential directive and headed by presidential aide Samantha Power, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about America and genocide, the body was formed with the realization that, 'preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.' Its main function will be nothing less than to 'strengthen the United States' ability to prevent mass atrocities.
"To be sure, the motivation behind the board's creation is sound. Even when it has intervened to prevent wide-scale killings, the United States has often acted late. Too often, diplomats on the ground miss the telltale signs of impending mass murder. Bureaucratic inefficiencies stand in the way of action. Yet in response to the perceived problem of bureaucratic torpor, the administration has added just another level of bureaucracy."
"It has become evident that this administration is only gesturing at a substantively different approach to genocide when one witnesses its reaction, or, rather, inaction, with respect to the ongoing events in Syria, where Bashar al-Assad has slain some 10,000 of his own people, and is on course to kill many, many more.
" 'The Syrian people have not given up, which is why we cannot give up,' President Obama said last week. That pledge will come as cold comfort to the denizens of Homs and Idlib, for it appears that America has already given up on them.' "
Source: Excerpted from Kirchik, James (May 4, 2012). Has American given up? Haaretz English Edition. http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/america-has-given-up-on-syria-1.428169
James Kirchick, a fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a contributing editor for The New Republic and World Affairs Journal.