(Continued from Part II)
It is difficult to imagine the US providing funds for, equipping, arming and training children as a matter of policy, so it is tempting to dismiss what happened in Libya as an aberration caused by a difficult and fast moving situation. Intelligence may have been lacking, the fog of war may have clouded the “ground truth,” allowing for decisions that would not have been made in the light of perfect intelligence and with time to consider. Or perhaps once the situation came to light, it was too late to back off on a course to which we were now committed.
Unfortunately this is not the only recent example of U.S. policy enabling child soldiers.
In October 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced with great fanfare that President Barack Obama would be awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. An excerpt from the announcement reads:
Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.
Exactly one year later, in October 2010, the White House released Presidential Determination NO. 2011-4, although with much less fanfare. An excerpt from the memorandum reads:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, pursuant to section 404(c) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA), title IV of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (Public Law 110 457), I hereby determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application to Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC], Sudan, and Yemen of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA.
An excerpt from the summary of Section 404 of the CSPA reads:
Prohibits, with a national interest waiver, funds for specified military and related areas from being made available to the government of a country identified by the Secretary as having governmental armed forces or government supported armed groups that recruit or use child soldiers.
The Child Soldiers Prevention Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008. The bill was passed without objection in the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate, meaning simply that every single member of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, supported it and so a roll call vote was not held.
Section 404 prohibits guns, money and support to be given to governments that engage in the use of child soldiers--namely, Burma, Chad, DRC, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. President Obama issued a waiver for four out of the six countries named--and it is particularly notable that the DRC and Sudan were on that waiver. Those are two of the countries where Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues to operate, having left Uganda.
So the US is ostensibly already supporting action against Joseph Kony. It is funding, equipping and training armies that use child soldiers to combat groups such as the LRA--who do the same thing. The justification given by the Obama administration was to further the war on terror. More examples of the Obama doctrine at work--but here there can be no excuse.
This is how the Obama administration seeks to fight terror--with secret wars, leading from behind, taking advantage of our technological superiority from a distance, while letting children take the place of the world's greatest warriors on the front lines--fighting battles that have, by the president’s own pen, an American interest at stake.
That is the price of switching from war where Americans come home in body bags to kinetic military action where they do not. That is the price of outsourcing labor, in war.
(To be continued in Part IV)