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Imagine the Unimaginable: Ending Genocide in the 21st Century - Welcome Address

Introductory Speakers: Michael Abramowitz, Director, Committee on Conscience, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations
July 24, 2012
Council on Foreign Relations


MICHAEL ABRAMOWITZ: Good morning. My name is Mike Abramowitz. I am the director of the genocide prevention program here at the Museum and we're thrilled to have you all here this morning for what we think will be a very interesting and provocative discussion about an incredibly important subject which is the prevention of genocide today and into the future. I'd like to just take a quick moment to thank our partners; I'd like to thank the Council on Foreign Relations for being our partner with this endeavor. I'd also like to thank CNN for being a partner. And I'd also like to single out Palantir Company which is one of our corporate sponsors for this event. Thank you all for your cooperation.

I would like, in particular, to thank Mark Penn and his team at Burson-Marsteller including the CEO, the new CEO Don Baer, and Jeremy Tunis. This project really arose from a conversation that Mark and I had about a year ago about a major pro bono contribution that Burson wanted to make to the Museum to help us spread our message about preventing genocide. And so we're deeply grateful to Burson-Marsteller.

A couple of housekeeping items. The Secretary of State, we're thrilled to have her with us today. She will be arriving in, I think, about a half an hour. And I would ask you after she makes these remarks, I would ask everyone to please stay in your seats to allow her to leave the building. I would also—you've all ready been asked to turn off your cell phones—but if you can do it without noise, we do encourage you to Twitter about this event. We have a hash tag up there: #endgenocide.

One of our goals is really to be a force multiplier to get the message out about what's happening in this room and the conversation out into the blogosphere. Encourage people to watch us on the webcast, encourage people to watch the rebroadcast of the webcast. So you are welcome to do that. And with that I think it's my great pleasure to introduce Jim Lindsay who's a Senior Vice President and Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a distinguished expert on foreign policy in his own right. Jim, the floor is yours.

JAMES M. LINDSAY: Thank you very much, Mike. It is a great pleasure to be here. On behalf of Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, I would like to thank the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for hosting today's symposium. Thank everybody in the audience for coming. And also thank those of you who are joining us via webcast. The Council on Foreign Relations is honored to be partnering with the Holocaust Museum on today's event, the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities is an important focus of CFR's work, especially the efforts of our Center for Preventive Action, which is ably led by my colleague Paul Stares.

Given CFR's interest in preventive action, we are very pleased with the focus of today's symposium. Work on genocide and mass atrocity often focuses on what could and what should have been done to prevent past tragedies. Such work is very important, but it is equally important to look forward to identify potential new challenges and crises so that we can prevent the next tragedy. Today's panels are going to attempt to do just that. They will focus on preventive strategies and especially on innovative approaches such as the use of social media and other new technologies. Our hope is that by combining a forward-looking perspective with a technology-oriented approach, the discussions we're about to have will yield new ideas about a very old problem.

It is my pleasure now to introduce our first speaker, Mark Penn. Mark is the worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller and CEO of Penn Schoen Berland. Very shortly, he will take up the position as corporate Vice President for Strategic and Special Projects at Microsoft. Mark, of course, is well known to all of you as someone who has served as a strategic—senior strategic advisor—to numerous political leaders ranging from Tony Blair to Hillary Clinton. He was the White House pollster under President Bill Clinton for six years. He has also been a long-time supporter and friend of the Holocaust Museum. And this symposium is possible, as I think as Mike pointed out in his remarks, because of the generous support of Burson-Marsteller. Mark is going to be presenting eye-opening findings on a new poll on American attitudes on the issue of genocide. So please, join me in welcoming Mark Penn.

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