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Answers and Analysis: Employing Military Options for Genocide Prevention

Last week’s discussion topic focused on the fifth chapter of the Genocide Prevention Task Force (GPTF) Report, employing military options. While the GPTF report emphasizes the immense importance of prevention, to assume that preventive measures will be successful is to be unprepared for the instance of their failure. While initial action begins with nonmilitary preventive mechanisms, there may be a time when consideration and use of military options is necessary. It is important to keep in mind that it is not an all-or-nothing choice between doing nothing militarily and sending in the Marines with guns blazing; there is a wide spectrum of military involvement. This range of available options, if it becomes necessary, should be pursued while working with partners such as the UN, African Union, ECOWAS, NATO, and the EU.

Last week’s trivia question addressed the challenges of employing military options. There are great challenges to acknowledge in the use of military intervention in genocide and mass atrocities. Your answers may have included any of the following: Because of the nature of genocide, forces can not be neutral and must chose sides. The American public may express concern about the use of military force, being unaware of the range of options available. There are also international political challenges; actions that are not authorized by the UN Security Council or out of self defense are considered illegitimate at best, illegal at worst. The Responsibility to Protect doctrine is a step forward around this challenge. An additional challenge is that the US military may not be prepared for a mission of this kind where the main objective is the protection of civilians.

Our discussion question asked you to consider the impact the GPTF recommendations on employing military options would impact Sudan, Congo, and Burma. Below, the E-team provides their analysis.


The US can fully expect a return to violence in any one of Sudan’s hotspots, and it must learn its lessons both from the bloody past of Sudan itself and its neighboring and nearby countries Kenya, Congo, and Rwanda to name a few. The US may need to prepare for concrete civilian protection activities, such as preparing to reinforce UNAMID or UNMIS, preparing to work with regional forces such as neighboring national armies or African Union peacekeepers, and preparing potential internal military responses that could protect civilians from further violence.


Unlike the conflict in Darfur, UN or foreign troops have not been deployed for peacekeeping in Burma. However, should the conflict reach the level where military intervention is justified and necessary, the United States and the international community must be prepared to engage. Recommendation 5-2 suggests that “the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense should leverage military capacities for intelligence and early warning and strengthen links to political-military planning and decision-making.” Because of drastic nature of a full-scale intervention, it’s important to consistently monitor the situation with a high enough level of intelligence to develop a response that takes a range of options into account rather than full-scale intervention.


It is clear that DRC’s national army is neither sufficiently trained nor equipped to deal with the current crisis. Thanks to Operation Kimia II, MONUC soldiers have been working alongside FARDC to protect civilians from recurrent attacks, though with only meager achievements. Military intervention is a process that would benefit from serious research of dynamics of the conflict and therefore informed steps and engagements. This would stream line operations like the integration of former rebels into the national army; giving more attention to the re-indoctrination and training process would go a long way in matching ideals and preventing incidents like the ongoing looting, rape and killings being done by the newly formed coalition between FARDC and former rebels whose careless merging has created a dangerous situation. That way, peace efforts can move forward and the military intervention can have meaning.

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