Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Is this how Obama tries to live up to our values?

Barack Obama campaigned on how he was going to lead a foreign policy that would represent our American values. What he meant is that he would bash Bush policies in the war on terror and then come in and employ most of those same policies.

That sort of hypocrisy is one thing, but now he's gone beyond that by waiving legally-mandated penalties on countries that employ children as soldiers. In many of these countries, children are either kidnapped or forced from their families and into the armies. We passed a law to attempt to discourage this terrible practice. President Obama is ignoring that law.
The White House is expected to soon announce its decision to issue a series of waivers for the Child Soldiers Protection Act, a 2008 law that is meant to stop the United States from giving military aid to countries that recruit soldiers under the age of 15 and use them to fight wars. The administration has laid out a range of justifications for waiving penalties on Yemen, South Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which amount to a gutting of the law for the second year in a row.

Last year, the White House didn't even tell Congress or the NGO community when it decided to do away with the Child Soldiers Prevention Act penalties. Most had to read about it first on The Cable. Aid workers, human rights activists, and even congressional offices were shocked that the administration had gutted the law without consulting them.
At the time they argued that 2010 was too soon after the 2008 law and that countries hadn't had time to adjust. Now they have individual arguments for each country. Advocates for children are not impressed.
To the human rights community, today's action by the White House represents both an abandonment of efforts to protect children, and a betrayal of the NGO community, which had been promised that this year would be different from last year.

"The White House said last year that they were putting these countries on notice but now it's a year later and the U.S. is still handing over taxpayer money to countries that use child soldiers with no strings attached," said Jo Becker, advocacy director for the children's rights division at Human Rights Watch.

"President Obama's decision today to provide taxpayer funded military assistance to countries that use children as soldiers is an assault on human dignity," said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), vice chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. "Good citizens of this country who do not want to be complicit in this grave human rights abuse must challenge this administration."

"Our law states that America does not fund the use of child soldiers," he said. "Any exceptions must be temporary and intended to help stop this pernicious practice."
President Obama figures that he can govern without having to obey laws. It's all part of how he is governing by waiver in policies such as health care and education. He and his administration know better and that's just the way it is. Forget about actual laws.

If Obama wants to ignore checks and balances, the people will have to exercise the ultimate check on Barack Obama.