The “Report of the Genocide Prevention Task Force” has become the go-to guide for genocide prevention, capturing and in some cases expanding the conventional wisdom that has accrued in activist circles. Overall, though, the Report’s novelty lies less in its analysis and recommendations than in harnessing credible security figures (e.g., Albright, Cohen, and retired General Anthony Zinni, formerly Commander in Chief of Central Command) to the product. As such, it is a welcome effort to push genocide-prevention measures into the respectable mainstream of national security policy. Yet the Task Force’s overall vision and message seem to have been powerfully shaped by calculations of political feasibility. Accordingly, the Report details a very limited range of military options and largely avoids the possibility that U.S. leadership will be required in order to galvanize international will. The deeper dysfunction haunting both the Report and U.S. policy remains the relationship between two critical requirements: the need for strong early action to prevent mass atrocities and the political imperative to delay controversial decisions until the last possible moment. In the case of mass atrocities, the prevention curve and the political calculation curves are inversely related.


Sewall, Sarah. "Do The Right Thing: A Genocide Policy That Works." Boston Review. September/October 2009.