Zachary D. Kaufman

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Attorney, adjunct professor, writer, speaker, and social entrepreneur
Current: Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University; Kigali Public Library; Humanity in Action; Indego Africa; Leta Raha Foundation; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / Future: O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past jobs.
–    Through work for the U.S. government and three international war crimes tribunals, (1) assisted in investigating and prosecuting suspected perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other atrocities; (2) helped African countries develop their criminal justice systems; and (3) briefed senior U.S. government officials, including the president, on international criminal justice issues and African affairs.
–    Through social entrepreneurship and non-profit work, helping to build Rwanda’s first public library and pursuing other initiatives in developing countries.
–    Through publishing and lecturing, contributing to public discourse and the literatures on international law, international relations, U.S. foreign policy, genocide and other atrocities, human rights, transitional justice, non-profit organizations, and social entrepreneurship.
–    Through work for Google, helped to apply its programs to atrocities.
–    Served on the Obama-Biden campaign’s African Policy Team.
–    Teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students who aim to become foreign policy leaders.

What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?
Addressing genocide and other atrocity issues holistically, through a combination of government, the private sector, civil society, and academia.

What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?
More effective, efficient, creative, collaborative use of limited resources, and more direct engagement of the developing world and non-state actors.

What is the greatest foreign policy issue facing our generation?
Foreign policy now involves an ever-broader array of issues — whether concerning human rights, conflict, weapons proliferation, crime, terrorism, poverty, public health, drugs, education, energy, or the environment — thereby not just expanding the scope of this field but the complexity required to identify and focus on priorities.

What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy?
–    Bureaucratic obstacles
–    Budgetary priorities
–    Disputes (e.g., political, ideological) over solutions to problems
–    Unwillingness to compromise
–    A dearth of imagination

What personal, managerial, and leadership skills and traits must the next generation of foreign policy leaders possess?
–    Empathy, because only by truly understanding others’ points of view and interests can we most effectively promote our own interests
–    Imagination
–    Familiarity with modern technology
–    Knowledge of foreign countries, cultures, and languages
–    Recognition of the interdependence of global affairs

How can foreign affairs be made more accessible to Americans, particularly younger generations?
–    Improving and expanding teaching on global affairs and foreign languages in high schools and universities
–    Expanding overseas exchanges
–    Integrating news coverage of global affairs into popular culture
–    Using social media to promote discussion of foreign affairs amongst the younger generation and with foreign policy commentators and leaders

Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you look up to the most?
George C. Marshall, namesake for the Marshall Plan, for devising Europe’s recovery and rebuilding after World War II, thereby correctly anticipating that post-conflict reconstruction is necessary to help communities heal and to prevent further conflict.

Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you think has missed the mark and why?
Neville Chamberlain, for appeasing instead of confronting the growing threat of Nazi Germany.

If you could change a critical decision in history to affect foreign policy, what would it be?
The U.S. government and others in the international community should have intervened in the 1994 Rwandan genocide: the humanitarian crisis was so clear and overwhelming and intervention could have made a significant difference.