11/13 IHT: Former officials to recommend how U.S. can prevent genocide

Former officials to recommend how U.S. can prevent genocide

The Associated Press

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WASHINGTON: A group of former U.S. officials and lawmakers has started a task force to develop recommendations on how the U.S. government can prevent genocide.

The group is headed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Defense Secretary William Cohen, who served under President Bill Clinton, in an administration that grappled with genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.

In a news conference Tuesday, Albright and Cohen said that they would consider the lessons learned from these events in making recommendations.

"Our challenge is to match words to deeds and stop allowing the unacceptable. That task, simple on the surface, is in fact one of the most persistent puzzles of our times," Albright said. "We have a duty to find the answer before the vow of 'never again' is once again betrayed."

The task force, which was formed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy and the United State Institute of Peace, will issue its recommendations in December 2008.

During the news conference, Armenian-American activists asked pointed questions about Albright's recent signature of a letter along with every living former secretary of state urging the U.S. Congress not to pass a resolution declaring the World War I-era killings of Armenians by the Ottoman empire a genocide.

"The task force's worthwhile efforts to build consensus for an unconditional stand against genocide as a core U.S. foreign policy priority are undermined right out of the box," Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America said in a statement.

Albright and Cohen said that the letter was written out of concern that anger by the Turkish government about the resolution could undermine Turkish cooperation with U.S. military operations in Iraq.

"Every former secretary of state, as secretary of state recognized that terrible things happened to the Armenians, tragedies," Albright said. "The letter was about whether this was an appropriate time to raise the issue."

Cohen said the task force would focus on the future.

"How do we marshal public opinion, how do we marshal political action, how do we generate the will to take action in a society that has been reluctant to do so in the past?" he said. "These are issues that this task force is going to examine at length, call upon our best minds to lay out some of the options and then see if we can implement this blue print in a way that would preclude things that have taken place in the past from taking place in the future."

Other members of the task force include former Republican Senator and Ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth, former Democratic Senator Tom Daschle and former head of U.S. Central Command, Ret. General Anthony Zinni.

Source: http://www.iht.com/bin/printfriendly.php?id=8315947