I am generally a fan of data. And numbers. Because those are the kinds of things we can count on. Unless, of course, those numbers have to do with child soldiers in Afghanistan.
United Nations found 48 child soldiers in Afghanistan last year, with more than half working for government-backed forces such as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Local and National Police. But that news somehow never made an impact in Washington.
Paying a country billions of dollars to support its forces if that country’s recruiting child soldiers is like hiring Donald Trump to babysit your kid. Sure, might be fun to watch for a while, probably get a GIF or two out of it, but ultimately, this is just a bad idea.
But until the Trumpster goes full on The Campaign and actually knocks an infant the fuck out, folks will keep supporting the man. Because if Axl Rose taught us anything, it’s that crazy sells. And sells. And sells.
Except this is neither a G n’ R meltdown moment or a Trump dump of derp. And once you get the lead that’s buried deeper than Hillary Clinton’s IT team’s credibility, well, it turns out that 48 isn’t as bad as it looks.
The U.N. report, which included Afghanistan in a list of 14 countries that use and recruit child soldiers, noted that the number of verified cases last year was double that in 2014. It said the majority of the cases involved the Taliban and other armed groups, but five children were in the Local Police, five in the National Police, and three in the National Army.
Let’s check in with that first graf again, and those child soldier numbers, since of that 48…
…more than half working for government-backed forces such as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Local and National Police.
- Afghan Local Police: 5
- Afghan National Police: 5
- Afghan National Army: 3
My wife will tell you: I am shit at the maths. But that’s 13 they found in Afghan government-funded security institutions. Or, 27% of the 48 the UN found.
When I was in school, my mom called in my absences on a wall mounted rotary phone. We sent mail using something called stamps. And “more than half” meant “more than 50%.”
So maybe things have changed. Maybe “more than half” is the same as “around ¼ of the total,” or “a little more than 25%”. Sure would make a Trump win a lot more possible if he only needed 27% of the vote.
And assuming Afghan forces number around 350,000, those 48 kids represent .004% of the total force. Granted, smoke means fire and so the 13 that the UN found may be undercounting the kids in the mix.
But I don’t think that whenever the UN team leaves it turns into a Peter Pan reboot.
Because maths and facts are inconvenient things, and instead of reporting on stories that underline the real issues facing Afghanistan, like how the Ghani government’s done just about fuck all since it took over, let’s concentrate on a more spectacular issue like child soldiers.
Probably time to start a #SaveTheAfghan13 campaign. I understand the #GetKony people are available.
Also published on Medium.