Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Obama waives sanctions/protects aid to countries using child soldiers

For the second day I awoke to sad news. And it's news that I've never heard before, even though it's happened 3 straight years.
Our wonderful president, Barack Hussein Obama, has chosen to ignore the Child Soldiers Protection Act of 2008 and waived sanctions on Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Congo. The CSPA was put in place to prevent U.S. arms sales to countries determined to be the worst abusers of child soldiers. The act was signed by George W. Bush in 2008, and was to go into effect in 2010. But President Obama has waived the penelties for the third straight year, drawing ire from Human Rights Groups across the world. Worse, President Obama failed to consult with Congress or let them know of his decision before he signed it.

I've been a supporter of Project AK-47 for two years now, since I heard about them at a Christian music festival. I wear dog tags with the name of a child soldier on them whenever I go out to increase awareness and to give the otherwise nameless soldier a name and a voice. Nadeem is the name on my dog tags, a boy from the Philippines who turned 16 this year, if he's still alive. He may well not be.

There are an estimated 350,000 child soldiers in use today, but that number may be a conservative one. The number has been increasing, up from an estimated 300,000 in 2009. At least 14 countries regularly use child soldiers. These children are taken from their homes at a young age, usually forced to watch family members being killed or tortured, and told that if they don't comply, their surviving family members will face additional punishment. They are treated like animals, fed little and forced to fight each other for scraps of food and little water. They are treated like animals until they become like animals. Then they are used like animals. The benefit of using children as soldiers is that there is always a fresh supply. Their deaths are not mourned as a big loss. There will always be more.

There are numerous groups that try to help end children soldiers, among them is Project AK-47. They are a fantastic group and I encourage you to check out their website here, support their efforts and buy a dog tag so another child that is considered worthless and insignificant will be talked about and cared about. It is a worthy cause. Maybe the most worthy.

And so the news today of President Obama's refusal to punish countries deemed among the worst in regards to using children as soldiers is a sickening blow. The president's reasoning is that these countries are young and in need of aid so that they don't collapse, or that they are integral to the United States' goal of combating terrorism and so we must continue to help them so they can help us. These excuses are poorly reasoned. Young countries should be taught immediately that using children as soldiers is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. In Congo, when sanctions were imposed the use of child soldiers went down. Now the sanctions against them have been partially waived. As for countries necessary to partner with in the fight against global terrorism, we should never exchange terrorism for child soldiers. At what price do we consider our safety? Are we willing to allow children to be abused in exchange for what may amount to be little information or help against terrorism? Only a sad and sorry lot would consider that an equal deal. I'm pretty sure we could get enough information about global terrorism without the help of Libya or Yemen...countries that barely help anyway. If our security lies in teaming with those who abuse and torture children, then it is in a bad affair. I, for one, am not convinced that we need their help at the expense of children's lives. Making a deal with the devil makes you nothing short of a demon. And this decision by the President of the United States is nothing short of a demonic and disgusting act. I hope it will be brought to light and revealed as such, but there is little chance it will even be brought to most people's attention. And that in itself is a sad and terrible thing. Children should be protected from any and all abuse, and the president's decision to ignore an act designed to do so is a terrible and horrendous blow to Human Rights. Who will fight for these children if our president won't? Who will lead if the U.S. doesn't?

Read the full story here.

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