Students will write an 8-10-page paper on a topic approved by the instructor. ( Child soldiers in Afghanistan from 1979-1986) APPROVED
Select a topic (an international event/issue) from 1960 to present which you will attempt to analyze using the concepts we’ll cover in this course. You will need to identify the event/issue and briefly explain what happened (or is happening), when, and where. You will then analyze the event/issue by determining why it happened as it did. In doing this, you will identify the state and non-state actors involved. Once you’ve identified the actors, you will use the theories of international relations to help you understand why this event/issue was important to each of them and why each responded as it did. The impact of balance of power, globalization, economics, culture, politics, and many other factors will help you analyze your topic.
Your final paper should contain a title page, abstract page, 8-10 pages of content, an endnotes page (if endnotes were used), and a bibliography. Note that the bibliography included with the paper is not annotated. Papers are to be double-spaced, Times New Roman font size 12, with one-inch margins all around. Papers significantly shorter or longer than this will be penalized. Part of learning to write well is learning to write in a clear, concise manner, while providing a sufficient level of detail. Remember that all papers must contain an introductory paragraph which explains the topic and the argument the paper will make AND a concluding paragraph which wraps up the main points of the paper without introducing any new information. Proofread your paper carefully. I would suggest using a spell/grammar checker and/or asking a friend to read over your paper for you. Sometimes, after spending days working on a paper, we tend to lose the ability to pick up on incomplete sentences and misused words, which someone reading for the first time would pick up on. Allassignments should be written using APA citations and style
Title pages should include the title of your paper, your name, the date, the course designator, and the instructor’s name – all centered on the front page. The abstract page should be the second page of your paper and should contain your single-spaced up to a half-page abstract. The endnotes page should be a separate page following the content of your paper, which lists all citations in numerical order. You will not need an endnotes page if you use parenthetical notes or footnotes. Your bibliography will be the last page(s) of your paper and should provide a list of all sources, alphabetized by authors’ last names. Each item should be single-spaced with a double-space between items.
Papers must use a minimum of 8 sources, with a minimum of two primary sources and two academic journals. If you’re not sure about the difference between primary and secondary sources, check out the info at: http://subjectguides.library.american.edu/primary. All sources must be validated as solid, scholarly sources. Restrict your sources to newspaper articles from major national and international papers (use these sparingly as they tend to be biased and are not often written by experts in the field), published journals and magazine articles, and websites from major organizations and government agencies. Avoid using more than one book, as you most likely won’t have time to read additional books with the load of reading in this course. Unless you read the entire book, you risk taking information out of context. Encyclopedias and textbooks may be referenced minimally in your paper, but do not count toward the minimum number of sources.
All work must be original. Do not use a paper submitted in another course and beware of copy/pasting from online sources, which can lead to plagiarism. Papers will be submitted to turnitin.com during the grading process. Please review the How to Avoid Plagiarism Tutorial carefully and make sure you understand how to cite your sources. Note that this means any facts or ideas you gleaned from your research need to be cited. A lack of citations indicates that you are claiming the ideas are your own.
Papers may not be submitted late unless a grade of Incomplete has been requested and approved by your instructor prior to the last day of class. Requests for Incompletes will only be approved in the event of an emergency (death in immediate family or emergency deployment, for instance) and with proper documentation. You have plenty of time to work on this project so please don’t risk missing the deadline by waiting until the last minute. Last minute computer problems or minor illnesses are not considered valid reasons for Incompletes.
Child Soldiers in Afghanistan from 1979-1986
Children are normally the most vulnerably during conflict events, with lasting effects of their experiences in various capacities, such as child soldiers or as collateral damage. What occurs during and even after the war continue to affect their wellbeing and it becomes impossible to have a normal life after the experience. Involvement of children in war denies them a chance to have a normal childhood or even education, which is critical for their future. Children living in war-torn, poverty-struck regions are the most susceptible to direct involvement in the military as child soldiers (Kingsley, 2017). Many countries around the world have witnessed the use of children as political tools to control the affected areas, especially during internal conflicts. Children become conditioned to engage in fighting, including committing heinous acts of violence against the perceived enemy. The world has witnessed a long history of child soldiers, but the most commonly used case study is Afghanistan from 1979-1986, when policymakers almost legalized the practice, leading to participation of thousands of children in the military.
Child Soldiers in Afghanistan
For many years, violence and armed conflicts have robbed children their childhood. Countries, such as Afghanistan have witnessed a surge in the use of children to fight in armed conflicts without caring about the possible loss of their lives, injuries and becoming maimed for life. The number of child soldiers in the country has been increasing since the end of 1970s and early 1980s, with detrimental effects on children. A majority of children killed in such conflicts are child soldiers, who are defined by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) as “any child – boy or girl – under eighteen years of age, who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity” (Tallon, 2019). Although the history of child soldiers in Afghanistan might be longer, reliable records suggests that it can be traced back to the 1980s.
While other countries have used child soldier during armed conflict, Afghanistan is the most famous case study in this practice that dates back to the 1980s. The practice emerged from the decision by the Soviet-backed government to establish the Democratic Youth Organization (DYO). The agency was responsible for the recruitment of child soldiers between 10 to 15 years old to participate in armed conflict. The organization was aligned with the Lenin’s viewpoint that youth was the leading force in achieving the revolutionary objectives. Between 1979 and 1986, the government sent approximately 25,000 to 30,000 Afghani children to the USSR for training to participate in the armed conflict as soldiers and spies. The Soviet Union later used the trained children as soldiers and spies (Zaman, 2019). ‘Child soldiers’ between the age of 8 and 15 years old were, in the 1980s, captured by the anti-Soviet mujahedeen to be used to assassinate resistance commanders and conduct espionage to gain an advantage in the warfare. Besides being used to fight, they were also hired by the Afghan Mujahedin a fighting forces against the soviet and the Kabul administration.
What Happened (or is Happening), When, and Where
Afghanistan is one of the countries that have experienced war for decades with detrimental effects on the most vulnerable populations, especially children. The country has dealt with violent warfare since the Soviet Union invaded in 1979 (Gibbs, 2000). After the government was overthrown in 1989, internal conflict ensued in the country affecting the country’s population. During the period between 1979 and 1986, children were heavily involved in the conflict in the two sides of the conflict. Since the invasion of the Soviet Union, the fighters forced children to become part of the opposing groups to force the soviet soldiers to leave the country (Bhutta, 2002). With time, the affected children and new recruits were forced to become part of the various Afghan factions that were in existence during the time and even later. Most of the affected children lived the experience of war for years with long-lasting impact on their childhood and future life. Unfortunately, military personnel in the country did not mind the negative effect of the war experience on children since it played a key role in the balance of power against the opposition.
Reasons behind the Event
While many children might have joined the military voluntarily, they are not competent enough to make such a critical decision. Besides, most experienced compulsory recruitment, which was a critical factor in militarizing of children in Afghanistan. The military wanted to gain an advantage over the enemy camp by taking advantage of the many children in the country who would be used as soldiers and spies. Military forces recruited and trained children due to various reasons, one being that they are young and easy to manipulate and socialize to gain the soldier identity. Children became dangerous weapons during the conflict due to the manipulation and torment. Another reason is that the military forces seduced some of the young people to join the military using narratives of adventure. They also used glamourized violence that already surrounded communities in Afghanistan (Tallon, 2019). For example, the military personnel and forces convinced them about the need to protect their people from the enemy group. As a result, it was easy to get the children to accept the rationale and join the military.
Many children in war-torn states are vulnerable because of poverty and being orphaned at a very young age, which put them in a hopeless position. Besides, others had their parents fighting in the war, which made them easy targets for military forces and personnel. The vulnerable children lacked economic opportunities or even education. The military personnel, especially on the government side promised the children payment incentives that motivated them to join the military and go for training. The economic challenges they experienced made it easy for the government and the rebels to take advantage of children in the country. While some of the children joined the military willingly, others were kidnapped and forced to leave their homes and join the military (Tallon, 2019). The high number of children recruited as soldiers in Afghanistan gained international attention and the need to protect them from the atrocious and the impact of war. Many international communities and organizations in the west have tried to save as many of the children as possible and reintegrate them into the normal community.
State and Non-State Actors in the Event
Various state and non-state actors played a key role in the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Afghanistan. State armies and the government might be directly or indirectly involved in the process. In 1979, the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan was involved in the recruitment, training, and the use of child soldiers through the establishment of the Democratic Youth Organization. The administration took children to USSR for training to become soldiers and spies in the conflict. Besides, the state actors, non-state actors, armed groups, such as rebels also use child soldiers to gain advantage over the opposing group (Wessells, 2016). For example, during the Afghanistan conflict between 1979 and 1986, groups opposing the Soviet invasion and the Soviet-backed government in the country also engaged children and youth in the conflict and attempt to repel the soviet invasion and influence. As a result, the extent of the recruitment and use of children as political actors in the country during the period was great and with detrimental short- and long-term effects.
International Relations Theories in the Event
Power balance in international relations is one of the perspectives that can help to understand the engagement of child soldiers in armed violence. Children are no longer the passive victims of war like before because of their recruitment and active involved in combat roles as evident in the Afghanistan case study (Boyden, 2003). Realism is an international relations theory that can explain the engagement of child soldiers in armed warfare. According to the theory, states engage in means to increase their power to survive and thrive. The theory is evident in the use of child soldiers in Afghanistan by the Soviet-backed government to gain more power than the opposition during the soviet invasion (Zaman, 2019). During the event, the state has to use whatever resources were available to fight and win against the opposition and the rebel groups. The idea of self-preservation and continued increase of power were evident in the event. As a result, the state witnessed an increase in the number of child soldiers recruited, trained, and involved in the war.
The state and non-state actors had vested interests in engaging child soldiers to support their sides of the conflict. The international relations theory includes the theory of classed society, such as Marxism, which explains why children have a potential of being involved in warfare as child soldiers or any other role that support combat affairs. Children engaged in the conflict are usually vulnerable due to poverty and other effects of armed conflicts (Wessells, 2016). The state actor in the situation, the soviet-backed government in Afghanistan took advantage of the vulnerability to recruit and train child soldiers who were either forced or volunteered to go to the USSR for training. The opposition and rebels engaged in conflict as a revolutionary process to prevent the Soviet influence in their country. Therefore, conflict became inevitable due to the states interactions and the attempts by each side to gain leverage through the use of available resources, including the children who became vital political resources. Besides, international security mechanisms have failed to protect children due to the vested interests of involved parties (Beier, 2015). As a result, children continue to suffer the effect of war in international environment.
Factors Influencing the Use of Child Soldiers
Although the child soldier case study is Afghanistan, the situations surround and forces that influence the practice are identical. The use of child soldiers in Afghanistan and elsewhere did not occur in a vacuum since various factors, such as balance of power, globalization, economics, culture, and politics affected the decisions. Notably, the decision in Afghanistan to recruit and train child soldier was a policy and policy action following the passing of Democratic Youth Organization (DYO). The organization revealed misuse of power in organizing children and using them to perpetrate horrendous acts of violence (Hart, 2006). Unfortunately, the involved parties trained children to be killing machines who would kill and injure even their kin. The situation revealed a clear lack of a moral compass or political agenda when making the decision to recruit and train children to become soldiers and spies. Balance of power and political system, therefore, played a key role in the decision to engage children in the armed conflict.
The reasons why children engage in violent conflicts as child soldiers are many and they may be unique to the local reality of the country or common across regions. One of the common reasons is the establishment of local values and the responsibility given to young people to protect their kin and communities. Some communities motivate violence among their young people, such as teaching bravery and heroism, as a way of transitioning into an adult status. The adult masculine status plays a role in the ease in which military organizations recruit children, some of whom willingly agree to participate in the operation (Hart, 2006). For some areas, it is essential that children engage in warfare because they are forced by circumstances and also as a way of expressing their independence resonating with their experience. In rural parts of Afghanistan, poverty might have driven some of the children to join the military and have a hope of survival.
During warfare, such as in the case of Afghanistan, young children were socialized into the system, of violence to become important actors in political violence. State and non-state actors involved in recruiting, training, and using child soldiers make them to believe that their participation is beneficial for them and their families. Besides, a country, such as Afghanistan has a huge population of children who might not have any other hope besides engaging in the war since they have no hope for a better life. Socialized children supports the systems of violence by developing the warrior identity (Wessells, 2016). The social identity processes have remain important in the presence of children in armed conflict without any consideration of the impact on their present and future lives. After all, children involved by force or any other means experience the change in identity as armed factions resocialize them to consider themselves as soldiers or worriers. The process explains why a child would be willing to take up a gun and shoot at the perceived enemy.
The child soldier phenomenon is common in the wake of globalization and interaction between states due to the ease with which people can move from one region to another. The globalization process had started to shape during the 1980s when Afghanistan witnessed a rise in the number of child soldiers in history. At the core of the conflict was the invasion of one state (Soviet Union) in another (Afghanistan) and extensive conflict between the state and non-state actors in the attempt to gain independence (Tallon, 2019). While children have always been a part of armed conflicts in various countries, especially failed states, current evidence indicate that their number has increased in the last few decades, suggesting the role of modern processes, such as globalization. According to a NATO report, international agencies have been encountering an increase in the number of child soldiers when they intervene in failed states (cited in Boyden, 2003).). Unfortunately, children are fighting in all sides, both government and opposition forces, causing a worse impact on their wellbeing than ever before.
The use of child soldiers is one of the most detrimental outcomes of war in many countries around the world, especially the war-torn ones and failed states. The state and non-state actors have failed to protect children from the short- and long-term negative effects of war. One of the countries that have gained international attention for the involvement of child soldiers in armed violence is Afghanistan, especially between 1979 and 1986 following the soviet invasion. The soviet-backed government in Afghanistan engaged in the recruitment, training and use of child soldiers in the armed conflict with rebels. The opposing forces also engaged child soldiers to gain an advantage over the enemy since children would be easy to recruit, manipulate and socialize them to develop the soldier identity. Critical causal mechanisms are evident in the phenomenon that caused children to lose their childhood and suffer in the hands of older military forces, such as poverty and lack of economic opportunities that would allow them to have a good future. Military forces took advantage of their situations to use them as killing machines and political resources during the armed conflict. While the west and other international communities have intervened, the child soldiers issue in failed and war-torn nations remain a reality.
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Boyden, J. (2003). The moral development of child soldiers: what do adults have to fear?. Peace and conflict, 9(4), 343-362.
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Hart, J. (2006). The Politics of” Child Soldiers”. The Brown Journal of World Affairs, 13(1), 217-226.
Kingsley, B. V. (2017). The effects that war has on children and child soldiers. Eastern Michigan University
Tallon, E. (2019). A Special Report on Child Soldiers in Afghanistan. Retrieved from https://natoassociation.ca/a-special-report-on-child-soldiers-in-afghanistan/
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Zaman, M. (2019). The Flowers of War: Addressing the Issue of Afghan Child Soldiers. The Geopolitics. Retrieved from https://thegeopolitics.com/the-flowers-of-war-addressing-the-issue-of-afghan-child-soldiers/