"Of 10 governments worldwide implicated in the recruitment or use of children as soldiers, nine receive US military assistance."
April 27, 2007 11:22 AM   Subscribe

If you haven't seen it: Werner Herzog's Ballad of the Little Soldier
great post
posted by acro at 11:28 AM on April 27, 2007

How very pro-life.
posted by yeloson at 11:42 AM on April 27, 2007

I haven't seen it but it does sound interesting. HRW reports on this sort of thing all the time, but nothing really seems to come of it.
posted by chunking express at 11:42 AM on April 27, 2007

I had no idea that we (America) were funding so many countries that used child soldiers. One more thing for us to atone for--not only the funding of this, but our collective ignorance of the situation.
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:44 AM on April 27, 2007

While I agree that our funding of child soldiers is something the we in the U.S. should atone for, "our collective ignorance of the situation" is due, in large part, not to our choice to be uninformed but to the actions of those who carefully hide the truth. Yes we should all find out more about what is being done in our name . . . but we should also demand that those who muddy the channels of information with their self-serving and jingoistic crap be held to account.
posted by ahimsakid at 12:01 PM on April 27, 2007

Great issue to raise awareness of. It would be nice if it appeared in the NYTimes or Washington Post eventually.
posted by bhouston at 12:11 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I believe that children are our future. Armed children, that is.

Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is a first-person account. (I haven't read the book, but his Daily Show interview was very interesting.)
posted by kirkaracha at 12:20 PM on April 27, 2007

amnesty international
posted by acro at 12:22 PM on April 27, 2007

So what's so bad about that 10th country that we're not giving them military assistance?
posted by adamrice at 12:43 PM on April 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

They have legal abortion.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:26 PM on April 27, 2007

In the Q and A, it says:

Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Cote d'Ivoire, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda. These countries were identified in the 2006 State Department human rights reports as having child soldiers in government forces or government-linked militias. They also receive at least one form of US military assistance.

Now, if we go to the map where these countries are listed, we see for Afganistan and Burundi:

Insurgent groups, including the Taliban militias
and other armed groups, use child soldiers.
No numbers are available.

Hundreds of child soldiers serve in the rebel
Forces Nationales pour la libération (FNL),
an armed rebel group.

So, are we going to suspend military funding from whenever any side in any conflict uses child soldiers, even though we aren't funding said child soldiers? Their ban would even include private manufacture and selling of weapons.

Child soldiers are a problem, but to insist that no action in a country be made until all sides in a conflict, even those we don't support, stop using children seems to be a misplacement of priorities.
posted by zabuni at 1:52 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

And homosexuals I bet.
posted by bardic at 1:53 PM on April 27, 2007

Conscripting 8-year-olds is okay but fetuses and stem cells are off limits.
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:01 PM on April 27, 2007

Perhaps we're giving them assistance because they need it so bad, they have to recruit child soldiers? Our aid doesn't consist of child-sized assault rifles, you know. Our aid is intended to help them enough so they can get out of whatever hole their in, and the actions taken while in that hole may include child soldiers.

That's like saying:

US Gives Military Aid to Warring Countries
US Gives Food Aid to Countries with Starving People
US Gives Aid to Crumbling Governments

I vote we stop funding these horrible regimes. Obviously, the countries, deprived of military aid, will transform into a modern high-tech first world economy.
posted by meowzilla at 2:28 PM on April 27, 2007

Perhaps we're giving them assistance because they need it so bad, they have to recruit child soldiers?
That's the reason.
posted by signal at 3:23 PM on April 27, 2007

Here's a paragraph ripped from today's cursor.org:
As U.S. Senators introduce a bill to cut off aid to nations using child soldiers, a U.S. military tribunal prepares to formally try a child "enemy combatant" for murder.
posted by furtive at 3:37 PM on April 27, 2007

doh, the child soldiers link is supposed to go to the main link in the post.
posted by furtive at 3:38 PM on April 27, 2007

meowzilla, are you saying there isn't legitimate criticism of the institutions of globalization (i.e. IMF, World Bank, WTO, USAID)? ^leaving aside the issue of child soldiers for a moment.
posted by acro at 3:54 PM on April 27, 2007

I'm not saying that world organizations and countries should be critical of countries that conduct human rights offenses. What I am saying is that these offenses don't disappear by these organizations just saying "Don't do this."

If the governments in question are using child soldiers, they probably have their reasons - all the adults are dead, or have left the country, or are actively resisting the government, or whatever. There are rational reasons for their actions, not because they enjoy abusing people. I hope.

We hope that by providing aid, that we can put the country into a situation where the government doesn't need to recruit child soldiers. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It if doesn't work, how exactly does withdrawing this aid help at all? And no government official wants to withdraw aid from countries that obviously need it.

In this case, the military aid can be justified (not that I am, I don't know the details) by claiming such equipment increases the effectiveness of that military's government, making it less necessary to employ child soldiers. If we ship them real mine-detection equipment, hopefully that foreign government won't have to rely on kids with knives anymore, right?
posted by meowzilla at 5:00 PM on April 27, 2007

meowzilla, wouldn't standard practice be to withhold aid until certain baseline ethical standards are met? It sounds like you're guessing that this aid is somehow targeted at eliminating this problem. I see evidence of that.

On the contrary, it would be far from the first time trade or strategic unions were fortified with aid while ignoring egregious human rights violations.
posted by dreamsign at 6:53 PM on April 27, 2007

argh. I see NO evidence of that.
posted by dreamsign at 6:54 PM on April 27, 2007

The problem I have, extended, this logic gives you the NATO Afghan mission -- militarily bringing aid to people, who are then terrorized for having received it. PBS isn't posting it online Until July, but the part of the episode following a Canadian PRT illustrates the gap between desire to 'help' and how this is implemented.
posted by acro at 7:38 PM on April 27, 2007

from ce' s link
This charade ended with the cold war. Weak states that had been propped up by foreign aid and outside military assistance quickly collapsed. And Eastern bloc countries that had been cranking out Kalashnikovs for the Soviet Army had to find new markets. Africa, with its unpatrolled skies and endless shorelines, its gold mines and diamond mines and free-flowing cash economies, beckoned.

The result, Dr. Reno said, was that the political landscape opened up to well-armed opportunists, no longer inconvenienced by state regulations, state security or moral principles. “When there isn’t that big barrier anymore,” he said, “all these weird things start to happen.”

Like the use of child soldiers, who are often drawn into these movements, or kept there, with magic and superstition.
Magic and superstition?
posted by acro at 9:24 AM on April 30, 2007

« Older Uncle Muscle   |   makibishi comic Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments