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Letter to the Editor

Author: Barnett R. Rubin, New York University
December 10, 1998
The New York Times

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December 10, 1998, NYT

To the Editor:

President Clinton's announcement of the creation of an early warning center on genocide in the State Department (news article, Dec. 10) would carry more weight if he showed more willingness to act against risks of genocide developing in Central Africa right now.

On his trip to Africa last spring, the President expressed regret at the United States' failure to act to stop the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

But that event was only the worst in a long chain of mass killings that continue.

The legacy of that genocide is a major cause of the spreading war in Congo. The armed forces of nine countries are now involved there (Week in Review, Dec. 6).

Harvests have been destroyed, and mass famine is imminent. Thousands are being massacred.

Some leaders openly call for ethnic killings, while others carry them out in silence.

Announcing an effort to warn of future genocides while saying nothing about one that is developing right now seems to bear out the statement of a United Nations official at a meeting on early warning: "We tell people we didn't know, because we don't want to do anything."

BARNETT R. RUBIN

Dir., Center for Preventive Action Council on Foreign Relations New York, Dec. 10, 1998