GENOCIDE: AMERICA SAYS 'NEVER AGAIN,' BUT KEEPS TURNING A BLIND EYE

The Globe and Mail, Canada
April 25 2013

GERALD CAPLAN, SAMUEL TOTTEN AND AMANDA GRZYB
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Apr. 25 2013, 7:23 AM EDT

If it's April, it must be "Never Again" time once more. You hear this
solemn pledge a lot every April, since the month commemorates not only
Holocaust Remembrance Day but the official anniversaries of both the
Armenian and Rwandan genocides. Leaders at every level seem to love
hearing themselves declare "Never Again." But those who mean it have no
power and those with power never mean it. The record speaks for itself.

Last April, in a speech at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,
President Barack Obama proudly announced his establishment of the
Atrocities Prevention Board. "Last year, in the first-ever presidential
directive on this challenge, I made it clear that 'preventing mass
atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a
core moral responsibility of the United States of America....' Now
we're doing something more. We're making sure that the United States
government has the structures, the mechanisms to better prevent and
respond to mass atrocities."

Alas, we've heard these noble promises before from his predecessors.

In 1979, having spent the previous three years doing nothing to stop
the Cambodian genocide, Jimmy Carter swore that "never again will the
world stand silent... fail to act in time to prevent this terrible act
of genocide." And then Ronald Reagan: "I say in a forthright voice,
Never Again!" Yet he was an enthusiastic backer of Guatemalan president
Rios Montt, now on trial for genocide against his own people, while
renewing the U.S. alliance with Iraq's Saddam Hussein even while
Saddam was gassing the people of Halabja - the precise genocidal
crime for which he was to be tried, had he lived.

George H. W. Bush told the world that his visit to Auschwitz left him
"with the determination not just to remember but also to act." Yet
his silence as Serbia attempted to ethnically cleanse Bosnia was
so thunderous that his rival in the 1992 campaign declared, "If the
horrors of the Holocaust taught us anything, it is the high cost of
remaining silent and paralyzed in the face of genocide."

That same Bill Clinton went even further. Opening the Holocaust
Memorial Museum in Washington, Mr. Clinton proclaimed that the U.S.

had done too little to stop the Holocaust. "We must not permit that
to happen again." That was April, 1993. Precisely one year later,
for the crassest of partisan political reasons, his administration
chose to allow perhaps a million Rwandan Tutsi to be slaughtered in
one of the purest genocides on record.

As for George W. Bush, he declared the Sudanese government guilty
of committing genocide against the people of Darfur while working
closely with that same government on his "War on Terror." And so to
Barack Obama, for whom so many held out so much hope.

Following these precedents, Mr. Obama's Atrocities Prevention Board
seems to have accomplished little to nothing over the past twelve
months. A completely secretive organism, it has not even issued any
pronouncements in regard to the world's ongoing humanitarian crises,
not least the Government of Sudan's daily bombings for the past year
and a half against its own people in the Nuba mountains and in Blue
Nile State.

This silence is doubly confounding given that the chair of the APB was
Samantha Power, whose bestselling book A Problem from Hell: America
in the Age of Genocide was instrumental in documenting America's
repeated failures to pay more than lip service to "Never Again."

Members of the APB have even refused to respond to the pleas of
more than 50 scholars of genocide studies and human rights activists
(including us) in regard to the ongoing crisis in the Nuba Mountains.

In a letter to Ms. Power in December 2012, they conveyed their deep
concern that the people of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile were not
only being targeted daily by the Sudan government's Antonov bombers
but were also starving, having been forced off their farms and into
the hinterland and caves of nearby mountains. The letter called on
the APB to urge President Obama and the United Nations to support
the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to allow aid workers
to deliver food to those Nuban civilians suffering from hunger and,
in some cases, outright starvation. We received no reply; the Nubans
received no assistance.

The story of the American record of failure is also the world's
failure, as demonstrated most flagrantly over the years by the
Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council. What
was learned through the tragedies of Rwanda and Srebrenica and
Darfur was that the national interests of China, Russia, France,
the United States and the United Kingdom trumped any humanitarian
obligations set down in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of Genocide. So genocide prevention activists pushed for
more declarations, more structures, more early-warning systems. The
General Assembly's Responsibility To Protect was one result, the
American APB another, the UN Office of the Special Adviser on the
Prevention of genocide yet a third. Non-governmental organizations
dedicated to genocide prevention and academics refining the tools of
early warning have proliferated.

Yet in the end, all the formalities in the world are moot unless
those with the power to stop atrocities also have the will to do
so. As the sad case of the Nubans attest, the will remains as elusive
now as it did 19 years ago in Rwanda. That's the reality this April,
as it has been for so many Aprils past.

Gerald Caplan is author of The 1994 Genocide of the Tutsi in
Rwanda, Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide and The Betrayal of
Africa. Samuel Totten is Professor Emeritus at the University of
Arkansas, Fayetteville. He is the author of Genocide by Attrition:
Nuba Mountains, Sudan (Transaction Publishers, 2012). He was last in
the war-torn Nuba Mountains this past December and January. Amanda
Grzyb is Assistant Professor of Information and Media Studies at
the University of Western Ontario, where her teaching and research
focuses on media and genocide. She is editor of The World and Darfur:
International Response to Crimes Against Humanity in Western Sudan.

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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress