By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, United States – On Monday, President Obama gave a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to present new tools to preventing and responding to mass atrocities. He addressed broad and specific topics alike: Joseph Kony, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Qadhafi regime in Egypt.
President Obama insisted in his speech, “Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America,” reported CBS News. He reiterated that military force is not a necessary intervention. Rather, he stressed the use of other tools: “Diplomatic and political and economic and financial and intelligence and law enforcement and our moral suasion.”
According to Voice of America News, President Obama set up the Atrocities Prevention Board last year, which was to meet for the first time Monday at the White House.
Furthermore, President Obama announced new, stricter sanctions against Syria and Iran and any other groups or nations that are currently aiding Syria. He announced a new asset freezes and visa restrictions system against Syrian and Iranian agencies, according to Reuters.
He also stressed that the United States is committed to keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. This was especially an issue for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Reuters reports, “When faced with a regime that threatens global security and denies the Holocaust and threatens to destroy Israel, the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Besides the current issues in Syria and the Middle East, President Obama promised to extend military presence in Central Africa to aid Uganda and its neighbors to pursue the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) there.
The LRA is led by the infamous Joseph Kony, who recently gained recognition thanks to a viral video. CBS News reports that President Obama ensures that the U.S. will not stop until this “madman” is brought to justice.
He continued, “It’s part of our regional strategy to end the scourge that is the LRA and help realize a future where no African child is stolen from their family and no girl is raped and no boy is turned into a child soldier.”
Because the speech took place at the Holocaust Museum, comparisons were made between today’s issues and the “greatest tragedy in history.” Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said, “The greatest tragedy in history could have been prevented had the civilized world spoken up, taken measures,” reported Voice of America News.
According to a White House Press Release, the Obama Administration has made the prevention of atrocities a key focus of this Administration’s foreign policy. The U.S. needs to prioritize this effort and rely now on the Atrocities Prevention Board. “The APB will help the U.S. government identify and address atrocity threats… we will make our military and civilian workforce better equipped to prevent and respond to atrocities . . . [and] we will hold accountable perpetrators of mass atrocities and genocide and support others who do the same.”
The press release lays out more strategies and tools that the U.S. will use to both prevent and respond to mass atrocities throughout the world.
For more information, please visit:
CBS News — Obama Tackles Mass Atrocities; Spotlights Syria, Kony — 23 Apr. 2012
Reuters — Obama Seeks to Stop Syria, Iran Tech Assault on Activists — 23 Apr. 2012
Voice of America News — Obama Unveils Sanctions , Touts Anti-Atrocity Mesasures — 23 Apr. 2012
White House Press Release — Fact Sheet: A Comprehensive Strategy and New Tools to Prevent and Respond to Atrocities — 23 Apr. 2012