Already facing international censure for ignoring child soldier covenants in his administration’s treatment of military detainee Omar Khadr, President Obama further cemented his position on the contentious issue today, forwarding special waivers to the State Department.
Obama’s waivers cover four countries, Yemen, Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo which in addition to their various other crimes against humanity are all known to be using child soldiers. Without Obama’s actions the Child Soldiers Prevention Act would have barred the US from providing military aid to those nations.
Yet Obama insisted that all four were vital to “the national interest,” citing Yemen and Chad in particular as allies in the global war on terror. With US military training dramatically on the rise, particularly in Yemen, it seems the administration is making clear their intention to make “child soldiers” something to give lip service to, at best, while eagerly funding the militaries that press them into service.
President Bush signed the ban on funding militaries that use child soldiers in 2008, but the ban did include a provision allowing the president to temporarily waive the bans in special cases. Far from being a special case, however, President Obama’s waivers appear to have covered materially the only nations to be affected by the ban.