My program for educating youth is hard. Weakness must be hammered away.

In my castles of the Teutonic Order a youth will grow up before which the world will tremble.
I want a brutal, domineering, fearless, cruel youth. Youth must be all that.
It must bear pain. There must be nothing weak and gentle about it.
The free, splendid beast of prey must once again flash from its eyes.
That is how I will eradicate thousands of years of human domestication

That is how I will create the New Order.

Adolf Hitler

You’ve trained for months. Waited out the politicians and the diplomats and the fence-sitters. You’ve kissed your family goodbye, endured an anxious journey halfway 'round the world, and found yourself in a desert unimaginably lethal, surrounded by people who want to kill you if nature can’t.

It’s a lousy job, but it’s the one you’ve got.

The battle for the capital is not as it was advertised by the masters of your fate. The street-by-street combat boils down to house-by-house, death-by-death, breath-by-breath until, finally, your mission is nearly complete. There’s one more soldier to kill, and he’s standing right in front of you, AK-47 locked and loaded.

He’s scared to death but you just don’t care anymore.

He looks to be about twelve years old, and in the instant you take to think about that,

he pulls the trigger.

You’re a garage mechanic. On a good day you make three bucks for fifteen hours of work. Your wife takes in sewing to help, but it isn’t enough. You depend upon the food ration cards that the regime provides. If you don’t drop your ten-year-old off at the Ba’ath Party collection point for his three-week training, your ration card will not be issued. His sisters and the baby will not eat. Nor will the boy receive his school examination results. As he slams the car door, your first-born son looks briefly back in disappointment, then turns and dutifully marches away.

To avoid parents being a retrograde force in the home,
we must arm the child with an inner light so that he can repel this influence.

Some fathers have escaped our hold for various reasons,
but a young boy is still in our hands...
The family unit must comply with centralised customs,
ruled by revolutionary positions and traditions.
Teach him to stand up to one or other of his parents...
And also teach the child that he must also be wary of strangers...
a student adept at moving within different yet perfectly organised structures will,
when the time comes, be able to stand in the sun,
bearing arms day and night, without flagging…
and when asked to confront the imperialists
or to charge in attacks in this troubled region,
will do so because, from childhood,

he has developed the habit of doing everything in an orderly way.

Saddam Hussein

They’re known as Ashbal Saddam, Saddam’s Lion Cubs, and they’re not the Boy Scouts of America.

The road to membership in the Fedayeen Saddam, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s private army of up to 60,000 men, begins with military training and political indoctrination of children as young as ten. It is estimated by the Brookings Institute that there are more than 8,000 children between the ages of ten and fifteen in the Baghdad area alone who have been trained in hand-to-hand combat, automatic weapons use, and ambush and infantry tactics. Though intended, of course, to grow into loyal enforcers of Hussein’s murderous policies, ironically these boys may become the last bastion of the defense of his regime.

“The U.S. should expect that these children would be portrayed in the Muslim press as heroic martyrs defending their homes against the American Goliath,” writes military analyst Peter Singer.

It is, really, unthinkable. But not without precedent, as we know. David, the first King of Israel, as a child turned the tide of battle against the Philistines. At the end of World War II, in 1945, American troops were dismayed to find themselves battling the Hitler Jugend, the Hitler Youth. The Iraqi president has already used boy soldiers during his disastrous campaign against Iran in the 80’s, in clear violation of international law.

“In a war against Iraq, US troops will be put into a situation where they face real and serious threats from opponents whom they generally would prefer not to harm,” continues Singer. “Because of the increasing simplicity and lethality of modern small arms, child soldiers cannot be dismissed as military threats. A bullet from the gun of a 14-year-old can kill just as well as one from a 40-year-old.”

So the question, once again as it always does, comes down to you: What would YOU do in such a circumstance? Once the trigger, so to speak, is pulled, there’s no turning back.

Simply logging off, it should be noted, is never an available option.

And, as a sort of update:

Jailed Iraqi children run free as marines roll into Baghdad suburbs

Tue Apr 8, 2003, 12:30 PM ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) - More than 100 children held in a prison celebrated their freedom as US marines rolled into northeast Baghdad amid chaotic scenes which saw civilians loot weapons from an army compound, a US officer said.

Around 150 children spilled out of the jail after the gates were opened as a US military Humvee vehicle approached, Lieutenant Colonel Fred Padilla told an AFP correspondent travelling with the Marines 5th Regiment.

"Hundreds of kids were swarming us and kissing us," Padilla said.

"There were parents running up, so happy to have their kids back."

"The children had been imprisoned because they had not joined the youth branch of the Baath party," he alleged. "Some of these kids had been in there for five years."

The children, who were wearing threadbare clothes and looked under-nourished, walked on the streets crossing their hands as if to mimic handcuffs, before giving the thumbs up sign and shouting their thanks.

It was not clear who had opened the doors of the prison.

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