6-8-2011By Winny Chen
Senior Associate, Crimes Against Humanity Program
On June 2, Human Rights First partnered with National Defense University, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, U.S. Institute of Peace, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies to convene U.S. government officials for a simulation exercise examining policy responses to a fictional mass atrocity situation. The exercise, designed to uncover specific ways in which the U.S. government can coordinate and strengthen its efforts to prevent and mitigate mass atrocities, used war gaming and scenario planning techniques to assess the potential threats of an escalating crisis and possible U.S. government responses.
Particular focus areas included early warning and intelligence, preventative diplomacy, third-party enablers, financial policy responses, and military planning. Several findings emerged over the course of the exercise:
- There was no debate that the United States has an interest in preventing mass atrocities.
- Early action, whether in intelligence gathering, diplomacy, or planning, is key to halting an escalation of tensions and necessary to being full prepared to use the full range of tools when the situation requires.
- Getting timely, comprehensive, and accurate intelligence from the ground is critical to decision making throughout every stage of the crisis, particularly in the early stages.
- The absence of a standing interagency process presents significant bureaucratic obstacles to maximizing all the tools in the U.S. foreign policy toolbox.