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Will Obama's new atrocities board lead to more Libya-style operations?

President Obama Monday announced the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board – an advisory panel dealing with potential genocides. The board is seen as a victory for the White House's 'interventionist' wing.


President Obama and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel leave after lighting candles in the Hall of Remembrance as they toured the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington Monday.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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Declaring that the United States and the world can do a better job of halting – and even preventing – genocide and other crimes against humanity, President Obama on Monday announced creation of a new advisory body to help generate action against human-rights calamities.

The president also used a day focused on human rights to issue an executive order that for the first time will allow the US to impose sanctions on foreign nationals who use new technologies – such as cellphone-tracking software and Internet monitoring – to commit human-rights abuses.  

The new advisory group, to be called the Atrocities Prevention Board, will act as an early-warning mechanism for the White House and other federal agencies. The group, which is made up of key agencies and outside organizations with their ears to the ground around the world, met for the first time at the White House Monday.

Creation of the new board represents a victory for the “interventionist” wing of the Obama foreign policy apparatus. The president’s announcement was hailed by Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations and a key advocate of a forceful US role in Libya last summer.

Ambassador Rice, who is considered by some a leading candidate to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of State in an potential Obama second term, said in a statement that “atrocities” like those of Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, and Syria “are not inevitable.” But she added they will only be stopped by strengthening “the world’s will and capacity to make ‘never again’ an enduring reality.”


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