Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviewed me after the Parkland shooting because Nik Cruz learned how to shoot through his participation in the Army’s JROTC program in his high school.
American military recruiting is an ugly story, while getting youth to sign up has never been tougher for the Pentagon. And now, President Trump has called for significant increases in the military forces. After 17 years of war and somewhat better economic conditions, only a tiny fraction of American youth want to join. This new 5-minute DOD video reflects the military’s exasperation.
It’s time for a national dialogue on this issue. The Pentagon will lie, steal, cheat, forge, hide, and deal to get a kid to sign up. Adhering to international law would make it impossible to recruit enough soldiers for the bloated military.
I’ve worked with Child Soldiers International and I’ve had my language regarding American recruiting abuses inserted into a UN report that points a finger at the U.S. for failure to adhere to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts.
Actually, it’s been pointed out to me by US officials that the US has never actually violated the treaty! They say the US signed the treaty in 2002 but made this serious reservation, “The United States assumes no obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child by becoming a party to the Protocol.”
This is the way America rolls. The US signs treaties with no intention of abiding by them. And now, National Security Advisor John Bolton, who brings the presence of Attila the Hun to the international stage, is denouncing the International Criminal Court because it is mulling an investigation of US war crimes in Afghanistan.
Just who are the international criminals?
Sorry, I got off track.
As a candidate for Congress, I call on the US to join the clear majority of the nations in the world in setting 18 as the absolute minimum age for military recruitment. Currently, 10% of US recruits are 17 year-olds. For a little background, see Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts.
In brief, the treaty calls for youth under the age of 18 years to be entitled to special protection. The UN wants to make sure that:
1. Recruitment is not forced or coerced.
2. Recruitment is carried out with the informed consent of the person’s parents or legal guardians;
3. Such persons are fully informed of the duties involved in such military service.
I’ve worked on this issue for a generation. It is not happening in the United States of America.
The U.N. has put the US on notice regarding US failure to abide by the treaty. The complaints below were adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child at its sixty-second session (14 January–5 2013) regarding the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.
See Concluding Observations Section IV.
The rest of the world is telling the US to clean up its act. These are their demands:
- Ensure that schools, parents and pupils are made aware of the voluntary nature of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) before consenting to the participation into it;
- Abolish the recruiter quota system;
- Ensure that military recruiter access to school grounds is limited;
- Prohibit disclosure of information on students without prior parental consent;
- Strengthen monitoring and oversight of recruiter irregularities and misconduct by effective investigation, imposition of sanctions and when necessary, prosecution of recruiter misconduct;
- Demand that 17 year-olds not be deployed to “hazardous duty pay” (HDP) or “imminent danger pay”(IDP) have been granted where they can be requested to perform inherently dangerous duties and may be at risk of indirect or direct participation in hostilities;
- Insure that children are properly informed that enrollment into the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program is voluntary;
- End the practice of substituting JROTC programs for core curricular classes;
- Cease weapons training associated with the JROTC Program.
The UN knows what’s going on here. I’ve spent some time making sure of it.
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