Friday, October 29, 2010

Child soldiers and military aid

Worrisome news from Washington: the New York Times reports that four developing countries that conscript child soldiers were given a waiver by the Obama administration to allow them to continue to receive military aid from the United States, overriding the provisions of the 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act.

The administration states that the waiver is in the national interest, the argument apparently being that these countries are important allies in the struggle against terrorism. However, this argument assumes that they would no longer be allies in that struggle if denied military aid, which implies that the administration sees them as mercenaries. Somehow the idea of allowing mercenaries to recruit and train child soldiers does not strike me as a great long-term strategy to reduce terrorism.

Apart from that, the child soldier problem is associated with a wide range of serious human rights violations. Allowing the systematic use of child soldiers to go unpunished does not reflect well upon the Obama administration.

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