"When a little boy is kidnapped" and forced to become a child soldier, "that's slavery," President Obama noted in a September 25 speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. Yet a mere three days later, the president waived-- for the third year in a row, no less -- U.S. sanctions on countries that use child soldiers, including Libya, where, as you may have noticed, we've had some nasty diplomatic security issues of late.
Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy reported the development in an October 1 The Cable blog post entitled "Obama waives sanctions on countries that use child soldiers" (h/t Human Events | emphasis mine; video update added below):
Late Friday afternoon, Obama issued a presidential memorandum waiving penalties under the Child Soldiers Protection Act of 2008 for Libya, South Sudan, and Yemen, penalties that Congress put in place to prevent U.S. arms sales to countries determined by the State Department to be the worst abusers of child soldiers in their militaries. The president also partially waived sanctions against the Democratic Republic of the Congo to allow some military training and arms sales to that country.
Human rights advocates saw the waivers as harmful to the goal of using U.S. influence to urge countries that receive military assistance to move away from using child soldiers and contradictory to the rhetoric Obama used in his speech.
"After such a strong statement against the exploitation of children, it seems bizarre that Obama would give a pass to countries using children in their armed forces and using U.S. tax money to do that," said Jesse Eaves, the senior policy advisor for child protection at World Vision.
The Obama administration doesn't want to upset its relationships with countries that it needs for security cooperation, but the blanket use of waivers is allowing the administration to avoid the law's intent, which was to use force the U.S. government to put a greater priority on human rights and child protection when doling out military aid, he said.
"The intent in this law was to use this waiver authority only in extreme circumstances, yet this has become an annual thing and this has become the default of this administration," Eaves said.
A search of the NewsBusters/Media Research Center DVR system turned up no stories on this development. A search of "child soldier" in the Nexis database likewise found no coverage of the waiver in the New York Times, Washington Post, or the news broadcasts of the ABC, CBS, and NBC networks.