Monday, November 1, 2010

Cavalcade of America, Get Out the Vote Edition

The Great Man Votes by Gordon Malherne Hillman 12/15/1941

U.S.: Child Soldiers are OK with us

Chad, Congo, Sudan, and our fast friends the Yememis get a pass, in the interests of allegedly deleterious effects of cutting off funding for their military establishments.

Senior U.S. officials said Wednesday that Yemen was exempted because ending military aid would jeopardize the country's ability to fight al-Qaeda. In Sudan, U.S. military assistance will be critical in helping the unstable southern part of the country build military institutions if it votes to secede in a January referendum, as expected, officials said.

Congo was exempted because U.S.-funded programs there are aimed at helping the military become more professional and less abusive, officials said. Chad got a pass because of its role in fighting terrorism and assistance with the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. In addition, U.S. aid goes toward helping that country's military end its practice of using child soldiers, officials said.

Taking these one at a time: Yemen it seems, (as they play their long standing double game with the U.S. and the Islamists they tolerate), is actually vulnerable enough that if we decided to actually enforce the Child Soldier Prevention Act and threaten to substantially cut back on the funding and aid, presenting a short term deadline for rectifying and verifiable actions or on the other hand, if we were to cut them off until they eliminated the practice, I think they would probably blink, and move first. Why are we afraid to try this?

As for Sudan, if it is desirable from our point of view that the southerners secede, wouldn't cutting off funding to the presently 'unified' Sudan, precipitate that event, or render it more likely? It seems cutting the 'unified' Sudan some slack only helps the present regime maintain control, while providing no incentive for them to move away from using kids as soldiers.

Congo: Am I missing some nuanced point here? If you want to impress upon a military organization the importance of becoming less ABUSIVE, then wouldn't you think that giving what appears to be more than tacit approval of child abuse is working at cross-purposes to that end? And professionalism? How is forcing kids into service professional, let alone ethical? Letting this slide, we are sending the wrong message. 'We'll talk a good game fellas, wink-wink don't worry about it, it's just talk guys.' OK. Great.

Lastly, something similar can be said about Chad. The present funding is going toward preventing their use of children? Huh? Howz dat? Seems obvious that present funding is going toward use of children. What sort of disincentive is that? Exactly counterproductive. Exactly. I'm in a logical pretzel trying to figure out the nuance on that one.

In short, there seems to be a false choice being presented here. It is not simply a choice between tolerating the status quo, and losing the good services of these various countries as we hunt down the barbarian. As the 'bill paying' parent, we can wield that financial cudgel, and force the change by actually using that leverage to force change. Each of these countries has a self-interested motivation to comply with whatever we decide will be condition of continued funding. Why not use that leverage?