• Child Soldier Hypocrisy

    April 19, 2011

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Democracy, Embassy/State, Other Ideas

    Susan Rice @AmbassadorRice on Twitter:

    “There is no justifying the recruitment of child soldiers. There is no tolerable number of child soldiers.”

    “I am deeply dismayed by reports that children are being recruited to kill in #Libya.”


    Well then Ambassador, how about speaking out for clemency for the Canadian citizen child soldier held by the US at Guantanamo for the last nine freaking years? He was just 15 years old when sold to the US by one of our tribal allies.

    Or do we only oppose these things when bad guys like (now) Libya do it?


    I received some interesting feedback on this post. Here are some samples:

    If he is the same guy I met, he killed a green beret medic with a hand grenade. He was not sold to us, he was captured by our commandos. He was and is an unlawful combatant and now, very much an adult. He was radicalized by his parents. I “met” him 2002. He was then a very hard case, recuperating from injuries. If he committed a similar crime here, he would have been tried as an adult.

    Another commenter said:

    I admire your conviction, but on this one I’ll have to disagree with you for several reasons: First, in no way can an al Qaeda fighter (as he was characterized in the article linked to your comment) be considered a “soldier.” Second, capturing and detaining a teenager who acted as a hostile combatant in an armed conflict is hardly an endorsement of “child soldiers” on the part of the U.S. And finally, the age of criminal responsibility in Canada (his country of citizenship) is 12.

    My response:

    You both raise excellent points, points that illustrate the complexity of the issues surrounding child soldiers. What I am seeking to point out is that Amb Rice saw no such complexities in talking about Libya (I assume she would agree with you and raise similar points connected to the Guantanamo prisoner). For America to have credibility in the world, we need to speak consistently. The days where similar actions can be good when we do it and bad when our enemies do it are over. This leaves aside the stickier questions of imprisoning this person without trial for nine years before ultimately convicting him before a military tribunal.

    The “war” is one of hearts and minds as much if not more than one of territory captured, and our actions do not seem to help us.

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