Today's Sign of the Apocalypse (TSA)April 26 2012 at 1:49 PM
The Spirit of Kellogg-Briand
Obama's committee to abolish human evil.
The occasion was solemn, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Elie Wiesel showed President Obama around the Washington museum that memorializes Jewish victims of the Nazis. In his speech on Monday, the President repeatedly invoked the phrase "never again." Then he touted the Administration's newest weapon against genocide: the Atrocities Prevention Board.
This is not an item from the Onion. A new permanent "interagency" committee that gathered for the first time Monday is now America's first line of response to brewing trouble. Meetings will be called. Treasury, State and the Pentagon will have seats at the table. Hot coffee will no doubt be served. White House aide Samantha Power, who wrote a book on America's failure to respond to genocide, is the board's first chairman. Let's hope this committee to stop human evil works better than the Kellogg-Briand pact to end all war in 1928.
The panel's unveiling at the Holocaust Memorial Museum was the anticlimax of an otherwise strong speech. Mentioning every important killing field between Buchenwald and Darfur, Mr. Obama declared that, "National sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people," adding the obvious caveat that this "does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there's an injustice in the world."
Yet the idea of an atrocities board is revealing. The Obama Administration's approach to human rights and foreign policy puts process, consensus, committees and U.N. approval above American leadership and possibly contentious action, which requires political will and the courage of conviction. The choice rests with Commanders in Chief, not a committee. President Clinton acted in Kosovo; he didn't in Rwanda, to his later regret.
Mr. Obama's own Rwanda test is Syria, which (to use his words) reveals "man's endless capacity for cruelty" with 10,000 dead and counting. Bashar Assad's regime is Iran's best friend and an enemy of the West, but the U.S. has largely sat on the sidelines, using Russian and Chinese opposition at the United Nations as an excuse to do very little.
Maybe the Atrocities Prevention Board can chew over the Administration's Syrian abdication at its next session.
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