TW: child soldiers, military occupation, war crimes
There was a lot of death in the news this past week. Al-Jazeera has offered a quick but useful run-down of the origins of the conflict in Mali, where the Tuareg, a Berber tribe, initiated a secessionist movement which has since allowed the disintegration of secular governance over two-thirds of the country. There’s a lot of moving parts in the situation – a nationalist hope for statehood for Berbers somewhere in the region, a coup in Mali over the federal government’s inability to address the Tuareg rebellion, and the rising influence of Islamism in the rural Maghreb. One issue remains clear – the Ansar Dine, the Islamist organization that now controls the majority of Mali, is recruiting child soldiers and using extreme punishments (including death) on the usually forcibly enlisted children.
Last night, Rachel Maddow put on a lengthy but excellent segment about violence in Afghanistan. The data point to a clear conclusion – President Obama’s surge in Afghanistan has unambiguously failed to reduce violence, at least after the past three years. As a military strategy, the surge has in fact correlated with a dramatic increase in attacks on US soldiers, the Afghan state’s forces, and Afghan non-combatant civilians. Maddow lays out the case and the only options with this undeniable evidence is that either the surge has failed or the surge has backfired.
Additionally, an online Israeli magazine yesterday noted that a Canadian woman with Israeli citizenship was sentenced to 90 days imprisonment for avoiding military enlistment after immigrating as a minor to Canada. This was roughly contemporaneous with an incident where a former Israeli soldier was sentenced to half that time for killing an unarmed Palestinian woman and her daughter while they were waving a white flag. Independent news sources have confirmed the sentencing of the Canadian-Israeli woman and the sentencing of the former soldier. There’s many ways of interpreting the comparison these two events invite – for one, it begs the question of whether Israel views peaceful coexistence with its neighbors as possible, and likewise, how its answer to that question is impacting its citizens and the overall region.