The Real Children of War

Sending children off to fight a war is despicable. Almost equally despicable is the way some on the left exploit the human emotions around this topic to manipulate public opinion.

Actually, real children are being sent off to real wars. A
conference sponsored by UNICEF was held just last week. Its purpose? To stop the military recruitment of children as soldiers (children in this case being anyone under 18).

According to Amnesty International,
Children are recruited because they are perceived as cheap and expendable, easily brutalized into fearless killing and unquestioning obedience. Child soldiers are often chosen for the most dangerous assignments or forced to participate in appalling human rights abuses, sometimes against their own families or communities. Children are also forced to carry ammunition, find and prepare food or perform other non-combat roles.
The statistics are frightening: a quarter of a million children worldwide are forced or otherwise coerced into fighting. Dictators send children onto battlefields to see if there are hidden land mines. Children are also used as messengers, spies, cooks and other types of camp help. They also perform sexual services for soldiers. In some places, nearly 40 percent of the recruits are girls, who are more likely to fill this particularly vile niche.

Some of these children manage to escape, and have to deal with the horrible memories of what they have done, as well as what has been done to them. Sending children into combat is truly one of the most reprehensible things anyone can do.

The Exploitation by the Left

Unfortunately, there are those who would say that we here in the United States send children to war.

Filmmaker Michael Moore:
"I would like to hear him [George W. Bush] say he knows what it means to love your children and that he, in good conscience, cannot send any more children to their deaths."
Actress Susan Sarandon:
"Those moms praying as they wait for the phone to ring and they hear the voice of their child serving in Iraq," Sarandon said to a crowd of perhaps 200 people. "Let him be the one to tell them that this week the call will not be coming."

Activist Cindy Sheehan:

"I don't want to put any more of our children in the hands of the warmongers and the war machine and the war profiteers. I think that would be a terrible idea. If there is a draft, I would just tell everybody with draft-age children and draft-age children to resist, resist, resist. Do not put yourself in the hands of people who would kill you to line their pockets with your blood."
Christopher Hitchens has a bone to pick with those who claim we are sending children to war:
"But when it comes to the confrontation in Iraq, the whole notion of grown-ups volunteering is dismissed or lampooned. Instead, it's people's children getting "sent." Recall Michael Moore asking congressmen whether they would "send" one of their offspring, as if they had the power to do so, or the right? (John Ashcroft's son was in the Gulf, but I doubt that his father dispatched him there, and in any case it would take a lot more than this to reconcile me to Ashcroft, as Moore implies that it should.) Nobody has to join the armed forces, and those who do are old enough to vote, get married, and do almost everything legal except buy themselves a drink. Why infantilize young people who are entitled to every presumption of adulthood?
Infantalizing the Troops

Infantilizing young people who have voluntarily enlisted in the military and are deployed on combat missions does not contribute to the debate of whether or not we should be in Iraq, but distracts with an emotional plea to Joe Everyman. Surely no decent human being would send his child (or someone else's) off to die. Instead of giving concrete reasons as to why we need to leave Iraq now, activists play with our heartstrings, hoping we'll take the bait. Regrettably, many have.

Should we use the same arguments with other dangerous occupations? There is a chance police officers will die in a shootout with criminals, or a fire fighter will die while trying to save a child from a burning building. How many parents "send" their children to become police officers or fire fighters? Will activists turn to these occupations next? The notion is ridiculous, of course, but anti-war activists are using this scenario in order to turn Americans against the war in Iraq. It's not really about the children for a couple of reasons: one, American soldiers are not children who are illegally forced into combat. Ours is an all-volunteer force, open only to those who are of legal age 18 or older. Two, anti-war activists aren't so much interested in the fate of those who serve in our military as they are in seeing America further disgraced in the eyes of the world.

The Real Goals

One of the groups behind the recent anti-war rally in Washington D.C. in January was United For Peace and Justice, which is headed by Leslie Cagan. Cagan is a founder of the former Committees of Correspondence, which was organized by the American Communist Party, and she is a strong supporter of Fidel Castro. Among its other activities,
UFPJ  advocates for taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, campaigns against America's support of Israel, and sponsors Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition, a group dedicated to expanding the civil rights and liberties of illegal immigrants, as well as either reduce or eradicate any and all restrictions of immigration to the United States.

What interest does a group like UFPJ really have in protecting American soldiers from harm?

The next time you hear the argument that we need to pull out of Iraq now for the sake of the "children," please don't buy into the hype. The next time a US senator browbeats a member of the Bush administration by saying she should have no say in wartime policy because she has no children to be sacrificed, please remember that such emotional blackmail has no place in foreign policy debate.

We do not send children to war; we utilize adult volunteer forces who, I believe, would be highly offended to be categorized as still being in elementary school. Please: think of the countries that really do use children in combat...and pray that those children are allowed to go home.

Pamela Meister writes about politics and world events at her blog.  She welcomes feedback.