Armies of the Young: Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism

By David M. Rosen | Go to book overview

Chapter 1 War and Childhood

THE IMAGES ARE burned into our minds: a young boy, dressed in a tee shirt, shorts, flip-flops, holding an AK-47, a cap pulled down over too-old eyes; a child with sticks of dynamite strapped to his chest; a tough-talking twelveyear old in camouflage. The images disturb us because they confound two fundamental and unquestioned assumptions of modern society: war is evil and should be ended; children are innocent and should be protected. So, our emotional logic tells us, something is clearly and profoundly wrong when children are soldiers. Throughout the world, humanitarian organizations are using the power of these images to drive forward the argument that children should not bear arms and that the adults who recruit them should be held accountable and should be prosecuted for war crimes. The humanitarian case, which is one facet of the general effort to abolish war, rests on three basic assumptions: that modern warfare is especially aberrant and cruel; that the worldwide glut of light-weight weapons makes it easier than in the past for children to bear arms; and that vulnerable children become soldiers because they are manipulated by unscrupulous adults. In making this case against child soldiers, humanitarian organizations paint the picture of a new phenomenon that has become a crisis of epidemic proportions. This book examines these assumptions to reveal a much more complicated picture. At the heart of this book are three conflicts in which child soldiers played a part: the civil war in Sierra Leone, the Palestinian uprising, and the Jewish partisan resistance in Eastern Europe during World War II. I chose these examples not because they are typical or representative but because they illustrate the complexities of the child-soldier problem.

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Armies of the Young: Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents viii
  • Preface x
  • Chapter 1- War and Childhood 1
  • Chapter 2- Fighting for Their Lives Jewish Child Soldiers of World War II 19
  • Chapter 3- Fighting for Diamonds the Child Soldiers of Sierra Leone 57
  • Chapter 4- Fighting for the Apocalypse Palestinian Child Soldiers 91
  • Chapter 5- The Politics of Age 132
  • Notes 159
  • Selected Bibliography 185
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 201
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