“I believe we will eventually be able to do what the Lloyd Axworthys of the world did with land mines in the 1990s. There was a day when land mines were part of the inventory of available tools one could use in warfare. the international movement, which roused public and media support around the world, led to a ban that took this weapon completely out of the inventories or arsenals of most nations.
We aim for the day when the use of children provokes the same reaction. If we can do this for a chunk of metal, surely we can do it for living beings who are the most vulnerable in our society.” (231)
this is the first book that i read (intentionally) for the library’s evergreen summer book club-the first was mellissa fung‘s under an afghan sky, a book a read in the spring after seeing her in the red chair. i appreciate romeo dallaire‘s move to drive home a connection between this country and those that we go to on “peacekeeping” missions. his calling out of general apathy and the abandonment of our own poor children and our dismal conduct with our aboriginal populations is necessary, and the discussion of chronological age determining eligibility of rehabilitation programs of people of uncertain chronological age/life experience can be extrapolated to other government funding bodies, like those who decide arts funding in this country and context. the comparison of Hutu and Tutsi violence and attitude to the animosity that has been fueled between the English and French in Quebec is a power-full parallel. finally, the beginning of the discussion of female child soldiers and the nuances of the violence that they experience and perpetrate is long overdue, and i’m curious to see if the first person accounts that he’s suggested will flesh out the story that ismael beah didn’t mention in his memoir, and that emmanuel jal cast off as “not my story to tell”.
“‘Civil’ is ironically what we call a war where civilians are the primary target, and power over them is the principal gain-a war where combatants mingle with civilians and use them as shields, as camouflage, as bait and as recruits for ‘the cause.’ In the failed states and war-plagued regions of the globe, young recruits exists in unlimited numbers, available at will.
It may seem unimaginable to you that child soldiers exist. It seemed impossible to me when I first encountered them that anyone would abuse the state of childhood so ruthlessly. And yet the reality for many rebel and gang leaders, and even state governments, is that there is no more complete end-to-end weapon system in the inventory of war machines than the child soldier. Its negligible technology, simple sustainment requirements, unlimited versatility in all possible facets of low-intensity conflict, and capacity for barbarism has made the child soldier the weapon of choice in over thirty conflicts around the world, for governments and non-state actors alike. Man has created the unlimited cheap, expendable, yet sophisticated human weapon, at the expense of humanity’s own future: its children.
Thanks to a worldwide proliferation of light weapons and ammunition, combined with the limitless resource of children as a result of the overpopulation in developing countries in conflict, such as we see in so many cases in Africa, there is no more readily available, cost-effective and renewable weapon system in existence today. Desperate children, boys and girls, are cheap to sustain, have no real sense of fear, and are limitless in the perverse directions they can be manipulated through drugs and indoctrination since they have not yet developed a concept of justice and have been ripped away from their families to fend in the new perverted family of armed force.” (2-3)