This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Recruiting/Abducting Children as Soldiers

"There is no doubt in my military mind that the sustainment of that conflict [Syria] is based on the early recruitment and massive use of young people."
"The Americans are concerned because they have now finally captured the fact that child soldiers -- and the use of children -- in these conflicts is far more than a humanitarian problem."
"It is far more than a social-economic problem. It is a threat, and that is starting to sink in."
Retired Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, Ottawa
A boy soldier waits at the Kpandroma transit center. The various warring factions of the country have used children as fighters, porters, cooks, spies and sex slaves.
A boy soldier waits at the Kpandroma transit center. The various warring factions of the country have used children as fighters, porters, cooks, spies and sex slaves. Time

From Joseph Kony's Lords Resistance Army in Central African Republic, to South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo to Uganda, right across Africa, tens of thousands of children, some as young as eight, are abducted and pressed into service as suicide bombers, sex slaves, human shields and armed killers, trained and forced to kill their own companions to test their mettle, sometimes their own family members, before setting out to ravage and slaughter.

The Canadian head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission Rwanda who was unable to stop the 1994 bloody massacre of over three-quarters of  a million Tutsis by the ruling Hutus, witnessed bloodshed on an unimaginable scale, with neighbour turning against neighbour in an ethnic cleansing exercise that left him reeling and anguished. Now, as a witness to horror he has dedicated himself to trying to find a way to stop the enforced enlistment of children in both regular armies and irregular militias, the scourge of Africa and beyond.

'Beyond' takes in east Asia, Central America and the Middle East, where the world isn't much interested in the fact that the Palestinian Authority has designed a protocol whereby through school curricula, television programs, contests and other propaganda, Palestinian children are groomed to consider their future as potential 'martyrs' for the cause of the liberation of Palestine with the understanding that Palestine can only be 'liberated' with the destruction of Israel, which annoyingly sits on 'Palestinian' geography.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant goes a tad further in its early recruitment and training of what they call their 'cubs', born to the 'lions', proud members of ISIL who bear the distinction of never wincing when they behead a victim, or immolate one in a fiery cage, or drive over them, or explode a device wrapped around a victim's head. These are events which the cubs are given to witness, to familiarize them with their futures. They also on occasion are blessed with the honour of setting off a remote-controlled explosive to kill captives.
Militant website via AP
In this photo released on April 25, 2015, by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, young boys known as the "lion cubs" hold rifles and Islamic State group flags as they exercise at a training camp in Tal Afar, near Mosul, northern Iraq. Militant website via AP

A report from the United Nations verifies that ISIL children, in their isolated enclave called their caliphate, are tasked with hauling weapons, acting as human shields and groomed to become suicide bombers. Those online videos featuring gruesome atrocities are notorious for their shock value to civilized people, but for the primitive barbarians led by Islamist jihad, they display children watching beheadings for the purpose of being exposed to what they are to become, jihadists.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in a six month period in 2015, 1,100 children under age sixteen were recruited by ISIL. Romeo Dallaire now seeks a solution; he has conceived of a program to enlist military veterans' assistance in training and rendering instructions to military forces in the avoidance of recruiting child soldiers. A nod given to culture and to tribal practices which condones military training for children, concedes that such a program could take decades to bear fruit.

But he has high hopes for the efficacy of the program he has named Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers. Their task, once trained, would be to educate officers and instructors who recruit and train footsoldiers.

"We are two decades behind on child soldiering already." We need to change the "ethos and patterns" of the forces we work with, stated Mr. Dallaire. "This is not Hitler Youth or young Canadian boys lying about their age to fight in the trenches. Those were specific problems -- mainly because countries were running out of military-aged men. In the conflicts of today, the leaders prefer child soldiers. They're easier to indoctrinate. And we haven't found a way to make them less effective [as killers]."

When Western forces are deployed into battle, faced with children who are armed, trained and able to kill, there is scant choice but to respond as though they are mature men prepared to kill or be killed, because this, in essence, is what they will do. Children fighting with Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and ISIL, have little choice but to obey what is demanded of them, or face the deadly consequences. So they defer death by going out armed onto the battlefield, where death will meet them eventually.

And if they meet death at the business end of a weapon held and  used by someone born, educated and trained with Western values, standards and ideals, the result will be anguish and stricken demoralization on the part of a soldier who knows he or she must respond in kind without responding with kindness in mind when faced with a child wielding a deadly weapon.

Training and graduation at the Al-Futuwa program. (Photo: Tazpit News Agency/ Paldf.net)
 Hamas Training and graduation at the Al-Futuwa program. (Photo: Tazpit News Agency/ Paldf.net)

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