America's Child Soldiers



JROTC and the militarizing of America. 

This article originally appeared at Tom Dispatch

Congress surely meant to do the right thing when, in the fall of 2008, it passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA). The law was designed to protect kids worldwide from being forced to fight the wars of Big Men. From then on, any country that coerced children into becoming soldiers was supposed to lose all U.S. military aid.

It turned out, however, that Congress -- in its rare moment of concern for the next generation -- had it all wrong. In its greater wisdom, the White House found countries like Chad and Yemen so vital to the national interest of the United States that it preferred to overlook what happened to the children in their midst.

As required by CSPA, this year the State Department once again listed 10 countries that use child soldiers: Burma (Myanmar), the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Seven of them were scheduled to receive millions of dollars in U.S. military aid as well as what’s called “U.S. Foreign Military Financing.” That’s a shell game aimed at supporting the Pentagon and American weapons makers by handing millions of taxpayer dollars over to such dodgy “allies,” who must then turn around and buy “services” from the Pentagon or “materiel” from the usual merchants of death. You know the crowd: Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, Northrop Grumman, and so on.

10/26/2014 10:58:35 PM

As a sixteen year old, high school junior, member of JROTC I would like to say that I do not feel like I'm being forced into military service at all, and certainly don't view myself as a "child soldier". So far I've seen many benefits to my being a part of JROTC such as a large boost in self esteem and greater motivation to do my best on assignments in other classes, and from what I can tell it's benefits like these that drive most of the members to join, not the desire to go shoot up a bunch of extremists in third world countries.

1/10/2014 12:02:07 PM

A great article, although I must admit I am shocked by the comments I see. Thank you for bringing this to my attention as well as others. Perhaps if these hundreds of millions were used for real education we would be helping our youth to think critically and really make decisions for themselves. A 14 or 15 year old is far too young to make a life decision like joining the military. This is preying on the disadvantaged youth in our country to maintain a military force to go and fight unjust wars that kill innocent people and make billions for others. Thank you again for this important information.

12/23/2013 11:33:01 AM

For many kids this is a way for them to learn in a time and place where they have no structure. The author too remembers getting up to practice. So they prep to become soldiers as it that is a bad thing. Gun training by this author's viewpoint is also bad. It is not. In an increasing urban environment these skills and rules are too often ignored. much of the allure of criminal behaviour stems from the same spot in the human being. This has a positive outcome. Too bad it is not available in more schools.

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