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Task force: Military training, money needed to prevent genocide

WASHINGTON (JTA) —

Genocide prevention and response should be incorporated into U.S. military planning and training.

That was one of the recommendations to help prevent genocide issued by a task force convened by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy and the U.S. Institute of Peace.

The Genocide Prevention Task Force released its 147-page report earlier this month.

Co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, the 13-person committee was formed in November 2007 with the goal of generating concrete recommendations to enhance the U.S. government’s capacity to recognize and respond to threats of genocide. The task force is among a number of efforts undertaken by the museum in the past few years to shed light on the issue.

The report argues that preventing genocide “is an achievable goal” that is not an “inevitable result of ‘ancient hatreds’ or irrational leaders.” But the goal, the report states, can be met only with a “blueprint” of “structures, strategies and partnerships.”

First, the report says, the next U.S. president must “demonstrate at the outset that preventing genocide and mass atrocities is a national priority” by developing a “government-wide policy.” That policy should be backed up with “increased and more flexible funding” for genocide prevention. It suggests that the U.S. Congress invest $250 million — “less than a dollar for every American each year” — in new funds for crisis prevention and response, with one-fifth of that funding available for “rapid allocation in support of urgent activities to prevent or halt emerging crises.”

Incorporating genocide prevention and response into “national policy guidance and planning for the military and into defense doctrine and training” is one of five parts of the “comprehensive policy approach” the report espouses.

The document states that military assets must be considered as one of the many instruments of national power that the United States must “leverage” in dealing with genocide, and while “especially relevant when opportunities for prevention have been lost,” they can “also play an important role in deterring and suppressing violence.”

The report stresses “early warning and early prevention,” recommending that the director of national intelligence prepare an “estimate on worldwide risks of genocide and mass atrocities,” and that “acute warning” of “potential genocide” be made an “automatic trigger” of policy review. Engaging leaders and institutions within “high-risk countries” also is encouraged.

The task force also recommends the creation in the United States of a “new high-level interagency body” — an Atrocities Prevention Committee — dedicated to respond to threats of genocide. And internationally, the report states that the United States should launch a diplomatic initiative “to create an international network for information sharing and coordinated action to prevent genocide.”

In addition to Albright and Cohen, members of the task force included former U.S. senators John Danforth and Tom Daschle, former top Carter and Clinton administration official Stuart Eizenstat, former secretary of agriculture Dan Glickman and former congressmen Vin Weber and Jack Kemp.

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