Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Obama's African 'Fast and Furious"

In my house we have a few basic rules.  No dogs on the couch, dirty plates go in the sink, and don't give kids under the age of fifteen an AK-47 or rocket propelled grenades (RPG).  It seemed like a good rule.  Even our government has a rule about not providing military aid to African countries that use kids under the age of 15 in their military (often times by force.)   But you know how kids are, always complaining their parents are too strict,  "All the other kids get their own AK-47!  Even President Obama is sending them to the poor starving kids is Africa!"

And now it turns out that's true.  The Obama administration has waived (very quietly of course) the Child Soldiers Protection Act of 2008.  For the second time in two years.

From Foreign Policy magazine website:

"President Barack Obama has decided to waive almost all the legally mandated penalties for countries that use child soldiers and provide those countries U.S. military assistance, just like he did last year.

The White House is expected to soon announce its decision to issue a series of waivers for the Child Soldiers Protection Act, a 2008 law that is meant to stop the United States from giving military aid to countries that recruit soldiers under the age of 15 and use them to fight wars. The administration has laid out a range of justifications for waiving penalties on Yemen, South Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which amount to a gutting of the law for the second year in a row.
Last year, the White House didn't even tell Congress or the NGO community when it decided to do away with the Child Soldiers Prevention Act penalties. Most had to read about it first on The Cable. Aid workers, human rights activists, and even congressional offices were shocked that the administration had gutted the law without consulting them.
To the human rights community, today's action by the White House represents both an abandonment of efforts to protect children, and a betrayal of the NGO community, which had been promised that this year would be different from last year.
"The White House said last year that they were putting these countries on notice but now it's a year later and the U.S. is still handing over taxpayer money to countries that use child soldiers with no strings attached," said Jo Becker, advocacy director for the children's rights division at Human Rights Watch.
"President Obama's decision today to provide taxpayer funded military assistance to countries that use children as soldiers is an assault on human dignity," said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE),  vice chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. "Good citizens of this country who do not want to be complicit in this grave human rights abuse must challenge this administration."

I couldn't agree with the last sentence of that last statement more. Obama has got to go.

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