Sunday, March 21, 2010

United States / Genocide Prevention

How Genocide Became a National Security Threat -- and What Barack Obama Should Do About It
By Michael Abramowitz and Lawrence Woocher
Foreign Policy, February 26, 2010
"Deep into his Feb. 2 congressional testimony on the U.S. government's annual threat assessment, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair raised the specter of an unfamiliar threat -- far from the terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and cyberattacks that the rest of his discussion focused on. 'Looking ahead over the next five years, a number of countries in Africa and Asia are at significant risk for a new outbreak of mass killing,' Blair told Congress. 'Among these countries, a new mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur in Southern Sudan.' Blair's testimony was an underappreciated breakthrough. Genocides and mass atrocities have traditionally been seen by the U.S. government as tragedies, but little more. President Bill Clinton never seriously contemplated intervening in Rwanda. George W. Bush's administration insisted that the violence in Darfur was genocide, but made little mention of any threat to U.S. interests arising there. Now, Blair has tacitly acknowledged what human rights groups and humanitarians have long insisted -- that mass killings are not only moral issues, but are threats to the national security of the United States. And in the world of politics, that subtle shift could make a big difference. Genocide's negative consequences for the United States are increasingly plain. Mass violence destabilizes countries and entire regions, threatening to spread trafficking in drugs, arms, and persons, as well as infectious disease pandemics and youth radicalization. When prevention fails, the United States invariably foots much of the bill for post-atrocity relief and peacekeeping operations -- to the tune of billions of dollars. And even as Washington is paying, America's soft power is depleted when the world's only superpower stands idle while innocents are systematically slaughtered. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Jill Mitchell for bringing this source to my attention.]

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