Forget everything you thought you knew about Barack Obama. When it comes to child soldiers he's as bent as a pretzel.
Today Obama signed a waiver allowing four countries that use child soldiers to continue receiving U.S. military aid. These are real hellholes - Chad, Sudan, Yemen and the D.R. Congo. From The Washington Post:
Human rights groups reacted with surprise and concern, saying the decision would send the wrong message.
"What the president has done is basically given everybody a pass for using child soldiers," said Jo Becker, children's rights director at Human Rights Watch.
Administration officials said cutting off aid would cause more damage than good in countries where the U.S. military is trying to fight terrorism and reform abusive armies.
Senior U.S. officials said Wednesday that Yemen was exempted because ending military aid would jeopardize the country's ability to fight al-Qaeda. In Sudan, U.S. military assistance will be critical in helping the unstable southern part of the country build military institutions if it votes to secede in a January referendum, as expected, officials said.
Congo was exempted because U.S.-funded programs there are aimed at helping the military become more professional and less abusive, officials said. Chad got a pass because of its role in fighting terrorism and assistance with the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.
So it's not whether you use child soldiers but what you're using them for that's the litmus test in Washington.