military policy

How Does Obama Defend America’s National Security? By Letting Children Go To War

U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration is fighting to keep gay soldiers from serving openly in the American armed forces, this week quietly issued a presidential memorandum ignoring federal law to withdraw military assistance from nations that use child soldiers — permitting Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Yemen to continue the practice of deploying weapon-wielding children while receiving military aid paid for by American taxpayers. Even gay ones. Obama’s says his decision, recommended by a State Department review, is based on the national security interest of maintaining relationships with these African allies despite their atrocious human rights records. When Mr. Obama was a U.S. Senator, he supported the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which would have mandated sanctions against such countries.

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  • T

    This is most certainly not a step in the right direction. The use of children as soldiers is not right. Waiving sanctions to entice them only sends the message we are not serious and that we need them more than our ideals.

    Having the mindset to use children for war is a lesson in disregard for Human life. Has our country not learned this yet?

  • Michael

    Nothing to do with gay issues. Just another chance for Queerty to hate on Obama.

  • ousslander

    @Michael: i agree it has nothing to do wih gay issues bt it is a valid reason to hate on obama.

  • Jack

    A valid reason to hate on Obama? I think Queerty, and some of its readers, need some perspective. Is Obama the champion of gay rights that we hoped he would be? No. He didn’t ride out of the inauguration on a unicorn, waving a rainbow flag, ending intolerance, inequality, and hatred with a wave of his hand like a gay messiah. I hate to be cheeky but I honestly think that’s what a lot of people expected.

    However, he didn’t do a lot of “smaller” more realistic things we would have liked either, such as putting an end to DADT. He’s a politician. Obviously he’s going to make promises before election that he’s not going to grant right away (or in some cases, ever). He’s not perfect. I don’t think anybody will argue that he is. He’s somewhat disappointing, given our initial hopes–I’ll grant you that.

    However. I hope you all realize what the alternative is–or was. The previous eight years were HELL ON EARTH. Under the Bush / Conservative / Republican regime we weren’t simply ignored (as we seem to be now) we were *hated*. We were villains. Our destruction was essentially policy. Not a day went by when we didn’t hear about the White House endorsing some Christian fundamentalist movement to end scientific developments or take rights away from one group or another.

    With Obama in office, I actually feel like we have a president who’s trying to do some good things. I feel like we have a president with an iota of intelligence who isn’t going to let his Bible and his “good ol’ boy” reasoning tell him what to do in every situation that crosses his table. I think he actually wants to make the country a better place, and as a result, there have been some positive changes: The job market is slowly but surely getting better. Health care is slowly but surely getting better. Education is slowly but surely getting better. For the first time in ten years, steps are being taken in the right direction.

    It’s easy for a lot of people, however, to complain that they’d rather have Ralph Nader or, hell, even Eddie Izzard in office. Someone who’s going to do everything they could possibly dream for the Left: Free health care, free education, gay marriage, legalized marijuana. Wonderful as that might be, it’s not going to happen. Sadly, there are too many people who don’t want it to ever let it come to pass and the best we can hope for right now, realistically, is to take baby steps in the right direction, one day at a time.

    Hating on Obama isn’t going to get us what we want. Instead it’s only going to do one thing: It’s going to cost him votes. If we sit here, comfortable in the jobs we didn’t have five years ago, and spit at him for everything he does, all we’re doing is putting doubts in the minds of voters who may decide that they’re going to stay away from the polls on election day because they dislike him OR, heaven forbid, they’re going to vote for whoever the republicans have to offer. In doing that, we’re handing the election back to the people that really do hate us.

    We need to support our president WHILE encouraging him to do better. I’m not one for blind patriotism. Don’t get me wrong on that. I’m not saying I love the guy and support everything he’s done. I am, however, aware that in the grand scheme of things is is far and away–FAR AND AWAY–the lesser of two evils. I hope everyone will remember that. And, if on election day this year, the Republicans retake the senate and the house, and if two years from now they retake the oval office, some of you are going to be very sorry. Can he do better? Sure. But we, as a country, can do a lot worse. A lot worse. I encourage you all to remember that.

  • whatever

    “recommended by a State Department review”

    That means Hillary recc’ed it.

  • Real Meat

    Right, because pulling our soldiers will not increase child soldiers in those countries. Wow is everyone here that short minded?

  • reason

    Obama’s job is to protect the country, even if that means making despicable decisions. Those countries that we are giving aid to are volatile, and with out aide may become safe havens for terrorist. That is where a decision has to be made ignore their terrible human rights record or watch as another 2000-4000 Americans are killed by a rag tag band of hopeless individuals. Our world is getting smaller, and failed states have become fertile recruiting ground for terrorist, so either we try to contain these countries or we turn our back and end up fighting a war somewhere down the line. The world is an ugly place, even with our communities problems with equality as Americans we have a lot to be grateful for.

  • reason

    If anyone believes that Obama is somehow comfortable with the idea of child soldiers has lost their ability to reason. It takes a serious amount of hatred to believe a man is so cruel as to care less about child soldiers. In truth there is nothing much we can do about it, we can’t continue policing the world and fighting wars all over the globe. The ill fated adventure into Iraq has already cost a trillion dollars, imagine how our economy would be doing if all that cash wasn’t wasted. Its time that we pull our nose out of the navel of these governments and focus on security, and the end if the dictator is cracking down on threats of terror aimed at America we are doing our job. We can’t have it both ways, it is either we do business with these people or we go to war.

  • MickW

    I blame Hillary, he put her in charge of the State Department and this is what she is advising him to do….Bad job Hillary, Bad Job.

  • Andy

    But what guarantees do we have these child soldiers aren’t gay and causing unit cohesion to fall apart?

  • Patrick

    There’s no reason the gay community should not be concerned with the human rights of others. Even if we know Obama has done very little for our community, to more conservative folks, they see that he’s appointed more gay people to government offices than any other President and they remember that when he makes bad choices elsewhere. Our community really needs to be active and aware of other political issues (after all, our elected officials we’re demanding legal recognition from are dealing with other issues too). If child soldiers don’t sit well with you, regardless of how directly this is a “gay issue”, then take a stronger stance against war and tell your political advocates to change the way things are. Just because an issue doesn’t involve gay sex or getting beat up or fired doesn’t mean it can’t be an issue gays speak out on as a community.

  • Kevin

    Yemen is not in Africa. The DRC and Sudan are not even close to allies of America. The DRC barely even has a functioning government to give aid to, anyway. All that said, “child soldiers” is far too vaguely defined. Under 18? Under 14? Where do we draw the line? If some country recruits 16-year-olds into their legitimate military, I don’t really have any objection to giving them aid, given that there’s some military/diplomatic rationale. If they’re forcing 12-year-olds into paramilitary bands, that’s a different story alltogether. It’s probably better to rescind the law and make decisions case-by-case than it is to have a black or white distinction. Diplomacy works best with wiggle room.

  • L.

    @Jack: OMG. I want to start an Eddie Izzard in ’12 PAC *right now*.

  • reason

    @Kevin: True things are not black and white. If giving aid to these countries prevents another 9/11 style attack on the U.S. and another Afghanistan style war I am all for it. Let me tell all who are worried about child soldiers, if we have to invade those countries far more children are going to end up dead. Just ask the Iraqis and the Afghans.

  • CityTime

    Jack : I’m not so sure about the Bush years being “hell on earth” for gays. Gay bashings, murders, and suicides are certainly higher under this administration than during the Bush years.

  • CityTime

    But I can’t really hate on Obama for this story. Obama is a politician, and politics is a nasty business.

  • Ronbo

    Who could possibly hate on Obama with him keeping his word, time after time? The Presdident has: worked against DADT, Opened the Gulf up for drilling, passed Nixon’s health insurance policy, supports corporate wallstreet-not mainstreet, opposes gay marriage, increased war spending, escalated the unitary executive policy of Bush, escalated the terror wars into Pakistan, prosecuted whistleblowers, increased funding to Blackwater/Xe, etc…. Isn’t that what we elected him to do?

    Either he is a Republican or a trojan horse. He isn’t acting like a Democrat. Politics isn’t a nasty business, when you actually have ethics and a backbone.

  • Ronbo

    And to those who seek to spread fear on this site… “Terrorist!”, please know that more Americans die every three months to smoking caused deaths than ALL persons who did in terrorism-related 9/11 deaths.

    Stop pumping up fear, “Terrorism!”, when a more lifesaving measure would be to simply stop smoking. Do your part to actually save a life – put the cigarettes down. Don’t try to take my rights away, because you buy-in to the sniveling, pant-wetting fear-mongers.

  • ewe

    And i bet Obama would include gay people in the we of “we’re” funding this but not in the “we’re” of we’re funding global AIDS. He can keep his condescending tone and message of “you can wait forever”. He is not getting my vote.

  • the crustybastard

    As a preliminary matter, I was assured by several commentators on this site and elsewhere that the Obama administration scrupulously observes every valid federal law however distasteful it may personally regard such laws.

    Evidently this is NOT true, given that suddenly our president believes he can override federal law by memo whenever he believes it’s appropriate to prop up the militaries of various sociopathic dictators. So, in addition to militarizing children, here are some other charming features of the governments Obama has decided to give taxpayer-financed military assistance to, in violation of federal law:

    SUDAN: President Bashir currently using his military, and supporting the Janjaweed militia’s efforts to liquidate the black African Sudanese minority in Darfur. Genocide.

    CHAD: In 2005, rated the most corrupt country on Earth, remains in the Worst 5. President Deby holds farcical elections, refuses to arrest neighboring Sudanese President Bashir for his participation in the Darfur genocide when he drops by for a visit. “Chad and Sudan had a problem in the past. Now this problem is solved. We are brothers.”

    DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (FORMERLY, ZAIRE): There’s an old saw that if it contains the words “democratic republic” you can bet your house that it isn’t. DRC may be the worst country on Earth, it’s various psychotic leaders having truly redefined the term “kleptocracy.” Despite being fabulously rich in natural resources, its people remain the poorest on the planet, which may be related to things like its former president-for-life Mobutu depositing $4 billion into his personal Swiss bank accounts. DRC has been in one war or another almost constantly since the ’60s, having weaponized systematic rape, militarized sexual slavery, and even engaged in cannibalism against the jungle-dwelling pygmy aboriginals on the presumption their flesh is magic. The ongoing warfare within this country is rapidly accelerating the extinction of several types of charismatic fauna including the bonobo chimpanzee, who are hunted by the war-displaced and starving population for food.

    YEMAN: Basically Saudi Arabia, without all its relaxed easygoing charm. Or money. Yemen is an extremely totalitarian state, where men have very few rights and little girls are sold into a lifetime of slavery under the guise of “marriage.” The Saudis are building a wall on their border to keep Yemenis out. The government is currently engaged in crushing a Hizb’allah-financed Shia rebellion, and Yemen was the return address of the recent US cargo aircraft bombs. Yemen sided with Saddam during the Gulf War I, and is the home of the bin Laden family, publicly decries (but discreetly assists) al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, and is the site where the USS Cole was attacked in port in 2000. Yemen is basically a terrorist state specializing in kidnapping-ransoms of foreigners (including children), and is deeply in cahoots with Somalia (the Islamist pirate state). Obama would do better to give Yemen assistance to build better prisons, since their maximum-security cells never manage to confine terrorists very long.

    Obama is actually losing his ability to shock me in much the same way Karl Rove has.

  • Michael

    @whatever: Don’t say that! A gay bitch fit bomb will go off.

  • reason

    @Ronbo: Hey the smokers know what they are in for “every” time the pickup that cancer stick, sorry but I think my sympathy resides with the person that is killed over nothing of their own doing not the one that had thousands of chances to quit.

    @the crustybastard: Where have you been hidden? We are giving money to Yemen becuase lately the majority of Al Qaeda’s attacks have originated their. CIC’s primary task is to protect the country and that is what he is doing. The Saudis have been doing their part by bombing the terrorist over their that are trying to take over that country and turn in into Afghanistan 1999. I don’t care who he is giving money to as long as it is helping our security, I guess you missed out on the 911 report that said the main threat to America is failed states.

  • the crustybastard

    @reason wrote, “CIC’s primary task is to protect the country…I don’t care who he is giving money to as long as it is helping our security…”






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