As Daily Intelligencer noted yesterday, the U.S. Holocaust Museum is at the center of a burgeoning controversy over its decision to conduct a study, through its Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, about whether the United States could have taken a more active role in the Syrian civil war for the sake of protecting civilians, hundreds of thousands of whom have died in the conflict — many as a result of the shelling, torture, gas attacks, and other atrocities committed by Bashar Al-Assad.
After the study concluded that there is little the U.S. could have done to improve matters, and that heightened involvement may have worsened conditions on the ground, there was an angry outcry from some who accused the museum of — as Leon Wieseltier (one of the louder critics) put it — embracing “bystanderism.” It’s important to point out that the vast majority of these complaints were not substantive critiques of the study, but rather discomfort with its conclusion, which ran contrary to the desires of many who have long called for heightened U.S. involvement in Syria.
In the wake of these critiques, the museum effectively unpublished the study, which it had planned to officially unveil at a September 11th event at Washington, D.C.’s U.S. Institute for Peace. “Last week the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide released a research study that examined several decision points during the Syrian conflict,” notes the webpage where the study used to live. “Since its release, a number of people with whom we have worked closely on Syria since the conflict’s outbreak have expressed concerns with the study. The Museum has decided to remove the study from its website as we evaluate this feedback.”
Last night, a source outside the Holocaust Museum sent Daily Intel the study, which consists of six separate papers. Below are links to PDFs of the six, with the first being a brief summary of the entire effort by Lawrence Woocher, who is the Simon-Skjodt Center’s research director.