WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama should make preventing genocide and mass atrocities a priority for his government and establish a procedure to determine when the threat of genocide is emerging, a task force led by former Cabinet officials recommended Monday.
The objective always should be to stop the buildup before killing begins, their report said, but Obama and his successors should not shirk from using military force, with or without allies, when necessary.
"We urge America's 44th president to demonstrate at the outset that preventing genocide and mass atrocities is a national priority," said the report, titled "Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers." "Achieving this goal will require the president to muster political will that has too often been lacking in the past."
It said genocide's consequences go far beyond the turmoil in which it occurs. For one thing, refugees are created who must be cared for.
The report also recommended that Congress provide $250 million, "less than a dollar for every American each year," for rapid use to deter genocide anywhere in the world, it said.
The document was prepared by the Genocide Prevention Task Force, headed by Madeleine Albright and William Cohen. Albright was secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton, and Cohen was Clinton's defense secretary.
Clinton was in the White House when most of the Bosnian civil war atrocities and the genocide in Rwanda occurred.
The task force was formed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy and the United States Institute of Peace. Its publication notes that 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the 20th anniversary of the U.S. ratification of the treaty.
On the Net:
United States Institute of Peace: http://www.usip.org/genocide_taskforce/index.html