Earlier this week, the Obama administration made the stunning decision to waive restrictions on military assistance to governments that use and recruit child soldiers. The decision marks the second time in as many years that the president has used his authority to undermine the spirit of a 2008 law geared to block aid to foreign governments that press-gang children.
In 2010, the first year that the legislation took effect, the Obama administration used blanket exemptions for Chad, Congo, Sudan and Yemen despite explicit concerns — highlighted by none other than the State Department — that these governments were dependent on child soldiers. At the time, the decision sent ripples through the human-rights community: Why was the administration abandoning an opportunity to help stop forcible recruitment of children? Why would it not seize the opportunity to press for greater reform in countries with long, well-known histories of abuse?This article was originally published in The Hill.