Faux Outrage: Reuters Says Tillerson Violating “Child Soldier Laws”; Ignores Same Policies Under Clinton-Obama
Late last night, Reuters published an “exclusive” report which was undoubtedly intended to be a “gotcha” hit piece on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, courtesy of some disgruntled Obama/Clinton holdovers at the State Department. The report from Reuters came after they got their hands on a confidential “dissent” memo, signed by ” a dozen U.S. State Department officials” accusing Tillerson of violating the “Child Soldiers Prevention Act.” Here’s a summary from Reuters:
A group of about a dozen U.S. State Department officials have taken the unusual step of formally accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of violating a federal law designed to stop foreign militaries from enlisting child soldiers, according to internal government documents reviewed by Reuters.
A confidential State Department “dissent” memo not previously reported said Tillerson breached the Child Soldiers Prevention Act when he decided in June to exclude Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan from a U.S. list of offenders in the use of child soldiers. This was despite the department publicly acknowledging that children were being conscripted in those countries.
Keeping the countries off the annual list makes it easier to provide them with U.S. military assistance. Iraq and Afghanistan are close allies in the fight against Islamist militants, while Myanmar is an emerging ally to offset China’s influence in Southeast Asia.
Documents reviewed by Reuters also show Tillerson’s decision was at odds with a unanimous recommendation by the heads of the State Department’s regional bureaus overseeing embassies in the Middle East and Asia, the U.S. envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the department’s human rights office and its own in-house lawyers.
“Beyond contravening U.S. law, this decision risks marring the credibility of a broad range of State Department reports and analyses and has weakened one of the U.S. government’s primary diplomatic tools to deter governmental armed forces and government-supported armed groups from recruiting and using children in combat and support roles around the world,” said the July 28 memo.
It’s all outrageous right? How could Secretary of State Tillerson “support” the conscription of child soldiers in Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan…who would do such a thing?
Meanwhile, according to Reuters the decision by Tillerson to exclude these countries has resulted in mass opposition in the State Department, “including the rare use of what is known as the ‘dissent channel’….all of which sounds very serious.
Reuters reported in June that Tillerson had disregarded internal recommendations on Iraq, Myanmar and Afghanistan. The new documents reveal the scale of the opposition in the State Department, including the rare use of what is known as the “dissent channel,” which allows officials to object to policies without fear of reprisals.
The views expressed by the U.S. officials illustrate ongoing tensions between career diplomats and the former chief of Exxon Mobil Corp appointed by President Donald Trump to pursue an “America First” approach to diplomacy.
Of course, a simple Google search would quickly reveal that the “Child Soldiers Prevention Act” was first implemented in 2009 and, at least through 2015, out of the three countries currently causing concerns at State, only Myanmar (Burma) has consistently appeared on the list…
All of which begs the question was the Clinton-Obama administration not at all worried about child soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or maybe these “dozen U.S. State Department Officials” only became aware of the problem in these countries in 2017 just as the Trump administration took over the Executive Branch?
Certainly this can’t all come down to a mainstream news organization attempting to smear the Secretary of State for simply continuing the same policies that were consistently utilized by the Obama White House and Clinton State Department with impunity…right?