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Playing Rwanda off against the DRC, a game I do not like.

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Hayabusa Rider

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I was forum surfing and came up with a statement that Obama issued an executive order which allows circumventing the law against funding nations which use children as soldiers. This particular forum tends to be reactionary so I followed the link to the article here.

U.S. President Barack Obama issued a new executive order last week to fight human trafficking, touting his administration's handling of the issue.

"When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed -- that's slavery," Obama said in a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. "It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world. Now, as a nation, we've long rejected such cruelty."

But for the third year in a row, Obama has waived almost all U.S. sanctions that would punish certain countries that use child soldiers, upsetting many in the human rights community.

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.

The Romney campaign has made Obama's record on human rights a feature of its foreign-policy critique, with top advisors accusing the president of deprioritizing the issue, often in sweeping terms.

"Barack Obama has broken with a tradition that goes back to Woodrow Wilson about human rights and values animating our foreign policy. This administration has not been an effective voice for human rights," said Romney campaign senior advisor for foreign policy Rich Williamson, who also served as George W. Bush's special envoy to Sudan, told The Cable in July.

Bush signed the child-soldiers law in 2008. It prohibits U.S. military education and training, foreign military financing, and other defense-related assistance to countries that actively recruit troops under the age of 18. Countries are designated as violators if the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report identifies them as recruiting child soldiers. The original bill was sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Obama first waived the sanctions in 2010, the first year they were to go into effect. At that time, the White House failed to inform Congress or the NGO community of its decision in advance, setting off a fierce backlash. A justification memo obtained by The Cable at the time made several security-related arguments for the waivers. Sudan was going through a fragile transition, for example. Yemen was crucial to counterterrorism cooperation, the administration argued.

But NSC Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power told NGO leaders at the time that the waivers would not become a recurring event.

"Our judgment was: Brand them, name them, shame them, and then try to leverage assistance in a fashion to make this work," Power said, saying the administration wanted to give the violator countries one more year to show progress. "Our judgment is we'll work from inside the tent."

But the next year, in 2011, Obama waived almost all the sanctions once again, using largely the same justifications, except that the administration argued that the law didn't apply to South Sudan because it wasn't a country until July 2011. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) tried to pass new legislation to force Obama to notify Congress before issuing the waivers.

Fortenberry called the decision an "assault on human dignity," and said, "Good citizens of this country who do not want to be complicit in this grave human rights abuse must challenge this administration."

This year, the State Department held a briefing for NGO leaders and human rights activists to answer questions about the waivers and try to ally their concerns.

"They are addressing the concerns of the legislation in a more pragmatic and useful way than in the past, but they still have a ways to go and this was a clear missed opportunity," Rachel Stohl, a senior associate at the Stimson Center who attended the briefing, told The Cable. "You want the waivers to be used very sparingly but some of these countries get the waiver every year."

Stohl rejects the administration's argument that countries like Libya and South Sudan are so fragile that they can't be leaned on to do better on human rights.

"I would argue that this is exactly the right time to make clear to Libya what the parameters are," she said.

Jo Becker, advocacy director for the children's rights division at Human Rights Watch, told The Cable that where the United States has used some pressure, such as in the DRC, where there was a partial cutoff of military aid last year, there was a positive effect.

"After years of foot-dragging, Congo is close to signing a U.N. action plan to end its use of child soldiers," she said. "But in other countries with child soldiers, including South Sudan, Libya, and Yemen, the U.S. continues to squander its leverage by giving military aid with no conditions."

NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
As I said the forum this was posted in tends to be reactionary and wayyy right and when political extremes cite references they tend to use less than credible sources. Unfortunately I found it to be true in at least some regards.

From the whitehouse.gov site

Presidential Memorandum -- Presidential Determination with respect to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT: Determination with Respect to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008

Pursuant to section 404 of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA) (title IV, Public Law 110-457), I hereby determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA with respect to Libya, South Sudan, and Yemen; and further determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive in part the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA with respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to allow for continued provision of International Military Education and Training funds and nonlethal Excess Defense Articles, and the issuance of licenses for direct commercial sales of U.S. origin defense articles; and I hereby waive such provisions accordingly.

You are authorized and directed to submit this determination to the Congress, along with the accompanying Memorandum of Justification, and to publish the determination in the Federal Register.
Note the bolded.

Did a bit of research and then a bit more. This isn't the core issue.

Background- The DRC has been involved in a long series of conflicts which has been horrific beyond description. Imagine Israel under active siege and it's people being wiped out and then we cut off aid because kids are fighting for their survival. If you suggested that we cut aid at such a critical time you wouldn't be well thought of.

So initially I thought that the order is justified since staying alive at all is important, and at the surface level I still do.

Then I dug a bit deeper and found what I think is a more important item, and that's our involvement with Rwanda who is slaughtering the DRC people.




The United States has been accused of blocking a UN report which examines claims that Rwanda is fuelling a violent rebellion in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Congolese government said the UN group of experts' report is being stalled by Rwanda and its allies on the security council to protect President Paul Kagame.

Rwanda vehemently denies that it is sending fighters and weapons across the border. Kagame rebuked Congo and said it should take responsibility.

Claims that Rwanda's military has been aiding a mutiny in eastern Congo led by the renegade general Bosco Ntaganda have been gathering momentum in recent weeks, with a leaked UN report followed by allegations from Human Rights Watch.

The UN's group of experts on Congo submitted its latest report to the security council on Monday, but an annex believed to deal with the Rwanda claim was held back and its publication remains uncertain. Lambert Mende, a Congolese government spokesman, blamed Rwanda and its backers, including the US, for the delay. "I think [the report] confirms everything that has been said," he told Reuters. "I don't think the Rwandans are at all happy that it should be officially endorsed by the UN."

Atoki Ileka, the Congolese ambassador to France and special envoy to the UN, said: "It seems the panel tried to submit the report and annex to the security council. I have no proof but from what I'm told one delegation, which seems to be the US, asked them to delay for two weeks. If it was the US, it would be trying to protect one of its allies, Rwanda. I think that would be a mistake because it would also be protecting Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the international criminal court."

Ileka added: "There is a risk of the security council losing any credibility. We don't understand the position of the US. This will do nothing to protect the people of eastern Congo and will not bring stability to the region. The path they are taking is not intelligent."

Rebel fighters captured in eastern Congo, and interviewed by Congo, Rwanda and the UN peacekeeping mission, revealed a Rwandan network supporting the mutiny, Ileka claimed. "It might go to the head of the Rwandan government."

Kagame has long been a darling of western donors and Rwanda is almost guaranteed a seat on the UN security council next year.

Congo's accusation has been given credence by diplomatic sources and international rights organisations.

Philippe Bolopion, UN director of Human Rights Watch, said: "The US government's reluctance to allow the publication of the UN group of experts' findings of Rwandan military support for Bosco Ntaganda's rebels is counterproductive.

"Stifling information will only hinder attempts to put an end to the atrocities committed by ICC (internatinal criminal court) war crimes suspect Ntaganda and other abusive commanders who have joined his mutiny."

He added: "The US and other security council members should be doing everything they can to expose violations of UN sanctions and the arms embargo, including by Rwanda, and not attempt to cover them up."

Rwanda has gone on the offensive to counter the criticism. Kagame called on Congo to take responsibility for a surge in rebel fighting rather than blame its neighbour for stoking the violence.

The latest fighting should not be seen as a problem between Congo and Rwanda, but an internal matter between "the different shades of Congolese", he said.

"And you Congolese, don't run away from your responsibilities and start claiming that this is our problem," Kagame told a press conference in Kigali on Tuesday.

"For us, we're only in to be a part of a solution."

Rwanda has repeatedly intervened in Congo's conflicts since Hutu extremists fled there after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Rwanda has cited the need to hunt down those rebels but has been accused of acting to protect its economic interests in the mineral-rich region.

The UN security council has previously called for a full probe into "credible reports of outside support" for the dissident troops, who deserted from Congo's army two months ago, many in support of Ntaganda, nicknamed "The Terminator".
Link to the article.

So it appears to me that we are allowing the DRC people to receive aid to fight back against aggressors that we're helping support.

When I ask "why" the conclusion is that we are most likely attempting to keep the region destabilised like we did in the ME half a century ago and more.

I really really don't like these games.

I only looked three levels down into this so if anyone has sources which explain this better please post them. If it is as it appears this is not good.
 
Feb 10, 2000
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Honestly I have no idea. Subsaharan Africa is, both politically and militarily, a, incredibly chaotic place, and I would hope the White House is trying to favor the least of all evils through its approach. I don't pretend to know whether their approach is the right one, however. I expect fairly few Americans have adequate knowledge to fairly evaluate current military goings-on in Africa in any detail.

Frankly I would be wary of accepting anything the right has to say about this, since they are so happy to criticize the President about Africa with full knowledge that so few people will know whether or not their comments are fair or warranted. Remember the way Rush Limbaugh slammed Obama for fighting the Lord's Resistance Army? http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/Vox-News/2012/0309/Why-did-Rush-Limbaugh-defend-Joseph-Kony-and-Lord-s-Resistance-Army-video
 
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BoberFett

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You've become quite the Apologist-In-Chief there Vito. You hate the right so much you're willing to give Obama a pass on just about anything.
 

alzan

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Even if it's only partially true I find it disturbing. As HR pointed out, the U.S. interference in the ME has come back to bite us several times and will continue to do so; I'd hate to think that we're sowing those seeds yet again with full knowledge of what may happen down the road.

I too am wary of reports or articles from the right or quoted on right wing sites, but I apply that wariness to the left as well. To get to know any subject on more than a base level you should read several books/articles from different perspectives. I worked with an Kenyan immigrant when the Limbaugh/LRA was occurring; he gave me a fresh perspective that changed my view of the situation.
 
Feb 10, 2000
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You've become quite the Apologist-In-Chief there Vito. You hate the right so much you're willing to give Obama a pass on just about anything.
Where did I defend him in this thread? I said I hoped he was doing the right thing but that I had no idea if he was.

Any chance you could dedicate your comments in this thread to the topic and not stalking me? Why do you care what I think anyway? For what it's worth I am ambivalent about President Obama but find him a wildly preferable candidate to Mitt Romney, so, like our common state, will be voting for him this year.
 

bononos

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Aug 21, 2011
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Honestly I have no idea. Subsaharan Africa is, both politically and militarily, a, incredibly chaotic place, and I would hope the White House is trying to favor the least of all evils through its approach. I don't pretend to know whether their approach is the right one, however. I expect fairly few Americans have adequate knowledge to fairly evaluate current military goings-on in Africa in any detail.
................
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/Vox-News/2012/0309/Why-did-Rush-Limbaugh-defend-Joseph-Kony-and-Lord-s-Resistance-Army-video
The least of all evils approach sounds like an excuse to cover up decades of western involvement with the wars in and around Congo. Remember Lumumba? and more recently theres news that Hammerskjold may also have been offed by the US/UK around the same time. The US did favour Kagame during the Rwandan civil war and was mostly quiet during the invasions of Congo and it was only now that theres some news in the US about his unsavory side.
 

Hayabusa Rider

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Jan 26, 2000
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The least of all evils approach sounds like an excuse to cover up decades of western involvement with the wars in and around Congo. Remember Lumumba? and more recently theres news that Hammerskjold may also have been offed by the US/UK around the same time. The US did favour Kagame during the Rwandan civil war and was mostly quiet during the invasions of Congo and it was only now that theres some news in the US about his unsavory side.
Don's not approving of anything. It's pretty clear he's trying to think through why this might be. He and I have varied opinions over many things, but I have no doubt that he's not apologizing, just speculating on possible motives that we cannot know. In fact I asked him to look my post over since I consider him an ordered thinker as I was not at my best when I created this thread.
 

Emos

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Don's not approving of anything. It's pretty clear he's trying to think through why this might be. He and I have varied opinions over many things, but I have no doubt that he's not apologizing, just speculating on possible motives that we cannot know. In fact I asked him to look my post over since I consider him an ordered thinker as I was not at my best when I created this thread.
Ill have to bookmark this thread so I can read it in detail when I get home. From what I glanced over, it's really disturbing if even parts of it are true. How much of this to lay at the feet of the President remains to be seen (I've been disappointed that Obama pretty much has carried on most of the foreign policy status quo but our nation has an unfortunate habit of putting its nose into too many other people's business).
 

bononos

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Aug 21, 2011
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Don's not approving of anything. It's pretty clear he's trying to think through why this might be. He and I have varied opinions over many things, but I have no doubt that he's not apologizing, just speculating on possible motives that we cannot know. In fact I asked him to look my post over since I consider him an ordered thinker as I was not at my best when I created this thread.
Ok. Its just that when I come across words like incredibly chaotic/backward and the US foreign policy being 'taking the lesser of 2 evils' or being an 'honest broker' it just sounds simply wrong (and also dishonest from right wing pundits) when the US has been busy meddling quite abit.
 
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