APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 1 February, 2000


How I Spent My (Non-Existent) (Terranovan) Vacation

Captain Haanah Demers, NGIS

(Scott Blow)

Private Journal of Captain Haanah Demers, NGIS, CNCS Liaison to Emir Shirow

So far I've spent the New Cycle holiday drowning in a vast sea of paperwork and inquiries from back home, trying desperately to get to the CNCS to put its money where its mouth is and support the Basal rebellion. Relations between the North and Shirow are currently abysmal, with several highly placed Revisionist leaders hotly protesting Basal's use of child soldiers in the fight against Masao.

As odd as this sounds, I'm not quite sure where to stand on this issue. Cycles of attrition have whittled away at Basal's population of able-bodied adults, leaving only the elderly and very young in substantial numbers. To make up for this lack, Shirow's military advisors have eliminated minimum age requirements for recruiting. Older teenagers are preferred, but sometimes children are given a weapon and sent off to battle. I can see why most are appalled, but the current living conditions in Basal are every bit as deplorable. Emir Shirow is no warlord. He loathes the idea of using his nation's youth in the battle against despotism, but I can't help feeling that we leave him no choice. Despite all my best efforts, Shirow's repeated pleas for economic and military assistance from the CNCS have fallen on deaf ears.

Aid may be even less likely if certain Northern voices have their way. Norlight detractors have made very compelling arguments that, even though the vast majority of juvenile soldiers are volunteers, the children are too young to recognize the kind of situations they would find themselves in, and are therefore unable to offer informed consent. There is also some evidence that a few children, their sense of morality stunted by the wartime conditions, have perpetrated a few of the atrocities committed by the rebels. Although statistically infrequent, I have received a number of reports of child soldiers executing Patriarchal prisoners of war. The assertions of human rights activists that the rebellion is hardening these children are justified. I have often wondered if the fight for freedom may end up transforming these kids into irredeemable killers. Many child soldiers have received decorations for valor, but most of these are awarded posthumously. I would argue that these "young heroes" are more naïve and incautious than actively courageous.

On the other hand, the enlisted children enjoy relatively better food and housing conditions than the majority of the Undercity residents, and bonds at the platoon level could serve as surrogate families for youth orphaned by the war. The fact remains that children are dying both in and outside of the military. Let them fight, powerful voices argue. After all, Basal is their home, they are willing, and they are needed. Others, particularly critics from abroad, say that no revolution is worth the forfeiture of its nation's youth. I can't help wondering if, with no foreign aid in sight, Shirow may end up reigning over a dead country. Only time --and international politics-- will tell.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 1 February, 2000