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Armies of the Young

Armies of the Young: Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism

Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Armies of the Young
    Book Description:

    Children have served as soldiers throughout history. They fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and in both world wars. They served as uniformed soldiers, camouflaged insurgents, and even suicide bombers. Indeed, the first U.S. soldier to be killed by hostile fire in the Afghanistan war was shot in ambush by a fourteen-year-old boy.Does this mean that child soldiers are aggressors? Or are they victims? It is a difficult question with no obvious answer, yet in recent years the acceptable answer among humanitarian organizations and contemporary scholars has been resoundingly the latter. These children are most often seen as especially hideous examples of adult criminal exploitation.In this provocative book, David M. Rosen argues that this response vastly oversimplifies the child soldier problem. Drawing on three dramatic examples-from Sierra Leone, Palestine, and Eastern Europe during the Holocaust-Rosen vividly illustrates this controversial view. In each case, he shows that children are not always passive victims, but often make the rational decision that not fighting is worse than fighting.With a critical eye to international law, Armies of the Young urges readers to reconsider the situation of child combatants in light of circumstance and history before adopting uninformed child protectionist views. In the process, Rosen paints a memorable and unsettling picture of the role of children in international conflicts.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-3783-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Chapter 1 War and Childhood
    (pp. 1-18)

    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 twelve-year 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...

  5. Chapter 2 Fighting for Their Lives: Jewish Child Soldiers of World War II
    (pp. 19-56)

    Among the most memorable stories of the Holocaust is that of Motteleh the child soldier. Motteleh, age twelve, was hiding in the forests of Belarus—then part of eastern Poland—when he was rescued by and joined a partisan group. Disguised as a local villager and carrying false identification papers, he became well known as a player of Ukrainian folk melodies on his violin and was hired to play at a German army hostel. Over time he used his violin case to smuggle explosives into the cellar of the hostel. One evening when an SS division on its way to...

  6. Chapter 3 Fighting for Diamonds: The Child Soldiers of Sierra Leone
    (pp. 57-90)

    When he was eight, Tamba Fangeigh was kidnapped in Kono District in eastern Sierra Leone by soldiers of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the rebel army in the civil war (1991–2001), and was placed in the so-called Small Boys Unit of the rebel fighters. The joy he took in the killing of local militia and civilians is chilling: “We came, we surrounded them and cut some of them, killed them, put tires over them and burned them…. I killed some, put tires on them, beat them, including the civilians who were with them. We took some of their properties...

  7. Chapter 4 Fighting for the Apocalypse: Palestinian Child Soldiers
    (pp. 91-131)

    On March 29, 2002, Ayat al-Akhras, a Palestinian teenager, blew herself up outside an Israeli supermarket in Jerusalem, killing Rachel Levine, a seventeen-year-old student, and Haim Smadar, a fifty-five-year-old security guard. On the evening of March 28, Ayat videotaped her farewell address on behalf of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. She proclaimed: “I am the living martyr, Ayat Mohammed al-Akhras. I do this operation for the sake of God and fulfilling the cry of the martyrs and orphans, the mothers who have buried their children, and those who are weak on earth. I tell the Arab leaders, don’t shirk from your...

  8. Chapter 5 The Politics of Age
    (pp. 132-158)

    The case studies presented in this book challenge the dominant humanitarian concept that child soldiers are simply vulnerable individuals exploited by adults who use them as cheap, expendable, and malleable weapons of war. These studies only begin to touch the range of circumstances in which children are engaged in combat; but they make clear that no simple model can account for the presence of children on the battlefield or the conditions under which they fight. The specifics of history and culture shape the lives of children and youth during peace and war, creating many different kinds of childhood and many...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 159-184)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 185-192)
  11. Index
    (pp. 193-200)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 201-202)