On October 3, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law “Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008,” a law that made it a federal crime to recruit or use soldiers under the age of 15. The law also gave the United States authority to “prosecute, deport or deny entry to individuals who have knowingly recruited children as soldiers.”
The bipartisan law, which was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress, drew the applause of several international human rights organizations:
“The US is saying to the world that using child soldiers is a serious crime and that it will take action,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocate for Human Rights Watch. “Military commanders who use children can no longer come to the United States without the risk of ending up in jail.”
Over the weekend, while most Americans were too busy spending time with their children and keeping up with the latest sporting events to worry about executive orders, President Obama removed the teeth from this law; effectively making it void in the nations most guilty. The result - thousands of children throughout the Middle East and Africa may be drafted into foreign militaries, with the full blessings of the United States.
Sunday afternoon, President Obama signed a Presidential memorandum, stating the following:
“I hereby determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA [Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008] with respect to Libya, South Sudan, and Yemen… and the issuance of licenses for direct commercial sales of U.S. origin defense articles; and I hereby waive such provisions accordingly.”
Section 404(a) deals with exporting arms to countries that allow child-soldiers.
With the stroke of a pen, President Obama did two very frightening things:
1. He authorized the United States to sell military weaponry to the nations of Libya, South Sudan, Yemen and Congo.
At a time with such unrest in the world, there is now a very significant chance that American weaponry will soon be delivered to a Yemen and Libyan port.
2. President Obama has undone much of the progress made in the fight against child-soldiers won over the past decade. Jesse Eaves, a senior policy advisor for child protection at World Vision stated the following:
“At a time when Congress is locked in one of the most difficult budget battles I’ve ever seen, it is shameful that a portion of federal funding continues to help support governments who are abusing children. At its core, this is a missed opportunity to show leadership on this issue and protect thousands of vulnerable children around the world,” adding, “Frankly, we expected more from our nation’s leaders.”
Unfortunately, as originally stated, this is a headline that you simply will not see ran across the screen of MSNBC.