Countering the Militarisation of Youth is the theme of this issue of The Broken Rifle, just in time for our international study conference with the same title.
As I wrote in a guest editorial in Peace News back in 2002, to work effectively, we need to know our enemy, or what our enemy is doing, With enemy I mean the military, and I consciously call the military our enemy, knowing that within most nonviolent circles we are not supposed to have enemies.
– A new area of work for War Resisters' International
In Europe, and to some degree on a global level, there are presently two trends which both contribute to an increase in the militarisation of youth. The first trend is the end (or, more exactly, the suspension) of conscription in most European countries since the 1990s. In 2011, Germany, one of the last major military and economic powers in Europe which still maintained conscription, suspended conscription. The second trend is one of an increasing “normalisation of war”. Since the war in the Balkans, but even more so since 9/11 and the announcement of the “war on terror”, the political use of military force has increased – war is no longer seen as a failure of politics, but as one of the tools of politics. This led to a radical restructuring of military forces, oriented towards mobility and military intervention. But it also brought with it new justifications for the use of military force: first “humanitarian intervention” (Yugoslavia, Somalia), then the “war on terror” (Afghanistan, Iraq) and the “responsibility to protect” (Libya). Both trends reinforce each other, and one outcome is the increased militarisation of youth from an early age on.
The debate about the “militarisation of research and teaching” is relatively new in Germany, and happens against the background of the restructuring of the German Bundeswehr from an alleged “defence army” to an “army in deployment”. This restructuring and the extent to which it affects the entire German population, are usually underestimated. While the defence army was, by design, relatively evenly distributed over Germany’s territory, at present, several military bases are being closed or merged, and military capabilities are concentrated at some locations.
The US military maintains an Orwellian database containing intimate details on 30 million youth between the ages of 16 and 25, providing local recruiters with personal information to use in a psychological campaign to lure youth within their designated regions. Before meeting, recruiters know what's in Johnny's head, if Johnny has a girlfriend, and what she thinks of his decision regarding enlistment. We'll examine how they do it.
In this article we will explain how we understand in what ways politics about gender, sexuality and war are related to each other. We will also tell you about some actions Ofog (anti-militarist network) did against the Swedish Armed Forces participation in the last Pride festival (August 2011).
The issue of child soldiers is back on the global agenda, thanks to two major recent developments. In March, Thomas Lubanga became the first person to be convicted by the International Criminal Court. He was found guilty of forcibly recruiting child soldiers to his Union of Congolese Patriots, known as 'the army of children'. The second, most visible development, was the massive popularity growth of web-based film KONY2012.
International Study Conference, Darmstadt, Germany 8-10 June, 2012
War Resisters' International is organising an international study conference on countering the militarisation of youth, in cooperation with German partner organisations and supported by the German teachers union (GEW). The conference will not just look at military recruitment and counter-recruitment actions, but will take a much broader view on the militarisation of youth, the creation of a culture and value system favourable to recruitment.
War Resisters' International and Ceasefire Campaign in South Africa in collaboration with the African Women's Active Nonviolence Initiative for Social Change (AWANICh), Women Peacemaker Program of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and the Organization for Nonviolence and Development of South Sudan (ONAD), are proposing to organise a nonviolence trainers exchange to take place between 26–29 of July, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Broken Rifle is the newsletter of WRI, and is published in English, Spanish, French and German. This is issue 92, May 2012.
This issue of The Broken Rifle was produced by Andreas Speck. Special thanks go to Emma Sangster, Christoph Marischka, Pat Elder, Cattis Laska, Hanns Molander, Helen Kearney, and many others – especially to our team of voluntary translaters.
If you want extra copies of this issue of The Broken Rifle, please contact the WRI office, or download it from our website.
War Resisters' International,
5 Caledonian Road,
London N1 9DX, Britain
tel +44-20-7278 4040