Hollywood mogul Steven Spielberg praised President Barack Obama’s creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board in 2012 in awarding Obama the “Ambassador for Humanity” prize, the highest honor of the USC Shoah Foundation, in Los Angeles Wednesday evening. The Atrocities Prevention Board, however, has failed to prevent any atrocities, notably in Syria, where Obama drew “red lines” he failed to enforce.
In April 2012, Obama chose controversial foreign policy adviser Samantha Power to head the Atrocities Prevention Board. Though Power had written extensively about the problem of genocide, she had also stirred controversy by calling for the U.S. to impose peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by deploying troops there, calling Israel a “major human rights” abuser protected by American Jews, who would have to be “alienated.”
As head of the Atrocities Prevention Board, Power did little to push for action in Syria as the slaughter of civilians continued. When President Obama famously issued his “red line” warning in 2012 that he would act in Syria if the regime used chemical weapons against his opponents, then failed to act in 2013 when evidence of chemical weapons was found, Power and the Atrocities Prevention Board were mute.
In her own speech on the Holocaust this week, Power–now UN Ambassador, in place of Susan Rice–said: “In preventing mass atrocities, we must redouble our emphasis on early engagement….The sooner we act, the more options we will have. That requires developing solutions to potential atrocities before they become actual ones.”
And yet that is precisely what she, President Obama, and the Atrocities Prevention Board have failed to do.