Этого парня я помню очень хорошо. Его идея когда-то сильно поразила меня. О ней я не один раз писал, но отклика и реакции у читателей она не нашла. Много лет назад Мэтт Кэньон придумал устройство IED (Improvised Empathetic Device), которое было подсоединено к базе данных о потерях американцев www.icasualties.org. Кажды раз, когда база официально обновлялась в интернете, его нарукавное устройство в режиме реального времени показывало имя погибшего, звание, дату смерти, причину и место гибели. После чего игла в устройстве втыкалась в руку до крови. Таким образом до обывателя дома хоть так доходило, что идет война и гибнут солдаты на поле боя. Недавно Мэтт выкинул еще один трюк.
The idea of child soldiers is itself young. International law organisations didn’t take up the issue until the close of the 20th century and, even then, they did so in a cautious and patchwork manner. The 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child asks governments to take ‘all feasible measures’ to keep children under 15 from direct combat. In 2000, the UN General Assembly committed to raising the age to 18, and in 2002 the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict was made good – sort of. Non-state guerrilla groups are banned from recruiting anyone under 18, while states are allowed to enlist volunteers over 15. The child soldier as a criminal aberration, a violation of even the rules of war, is more or less a 21st-century idea. But what it lacks in history, the child soldier makes up for with dramatic pathos. Whether it’s an aid organisation making a fundraising pitch or a news anchor plucking heartstrings, nothing conveys the depravity of far-off conflict quite like the image of a nine-year-old smoking a cigarette and toting an AK-47. The memoir A Long Way Gone (2007) by the former child soldier Ishmael Beah tells the now-familiar story of forcible recruitment at 12, drugs, coercion and four years of violence, before a rescue by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Though a lot of the facts are now disputed, Beah’s stories of Sierra Leone helped to establish the child soldier as an archetype of misfortune.
In 2009, a fourteen-year-old Belgian named Jejoen Bontinck slipped a sparkly white glove onto his left hand, squeezed into a sequinned black cardigan, and appeared on the reality-television contest “Move Like Michael Jackson.” He had travelled to Ghent from his home, in Antwerp, with his father, Dimitri, who wore a pin-striped suit jacket and oversized sunglasses, and who told the audience that he was Jejoen’s manager, mental coach, and personal assistant. Standing before the judges, Jejoen (pronounced “yeh-yoon”) professed his faith in the American Dream. “Dance yourself dizzy,” a judge said, and Jejoen moonwalked through the preliminary round. “That is performance!” Dimitri told the show’s host, a former Miss Belgium named Véronique de Kock. “You’re gonna hear from him, sweetie.”
Jejoen was soon eliminated, but four years later, when he least wanted the attention, he became the focus of hundreds of articles in the Belgian press. He had participated in a jihadi radicalization program, operated out of a rented room in Antwerp, that inspired dozens of Belgian youths to migrate to Syria and take up arms against the government of Bashar al-Assad. Most of the group’s members ultimately became part of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, joining more than twenty thousand foreign fighters engaged in the conflict in Syria and Iraq. Today, ISIS controls large parts of both countries. With revenue of more than a million dollars a day, mostly from extortion and taxation, the group continues to expand its reach; in mid-May, its forces captured the Iraqi city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, and, last week, they took control of Palmyra, in Syria.
About four thousand European jihadis have gone to Syria since the outbreak of war, in 2011, more than four hundred from Belgium. (It is estimated that at least a hundred Americans have joined the fight.) The migration of youths from seemingly stable and prosperous communities to fight with radical Islamists has bewildered not only their families but governments and security forces throughout Europe.
Now in his 70s, the former Vietnam News Agency photojournalist still has a clear memory about the photo, which he said was taken in April 1973 at the Long Quang border line in Trieu Trach Commune, Trieu Phong District of the north-central province of Quang Tri. The area was closely watched and guarded by the Vietnamese army in the North and the pro-American South Vietnam during the wartime before 1975. Thanh said he was so moved seeing two enemies, still in their different army uniforms, embrace each other to pose for a photograph that he forgot to note their names after capturing the picture. “It is the image of peace and national concord,” he said. Thanh said he and his colleague, Tran Mai Huong, were “surprised at what was happening” when they were assigned to the Long Quang station. Soldiers of both sides pointed guns towards each other during daytime but the situation was different in the evening, he said.
The YouTube video is grainy and little more than 90 seconds long. A group of men sit under olive trees on a hill, in a scene that would resemble a cheery picnic were it not for the rifles resting at their feet. Digital pixelation dances across their faces in an effort to keep their identities hidden, though one fair-skinned young man with a reddish beard is clearly visible. He looks directly at the camera, a big smile spreading across his face. His sunny demeanour and chunky frame invoke the strip malls and Dunkin’ Donuts of his native Florida. But when a building in Syria’s Idlib province exploded in a cloud of dust on 25 May 2014, it turned out that this young man might have been responsible. He died, as was his wish, a martyr in a holy war. The Reuters voiceover tells the story from scratch: this joyful American took the Arabic name Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha and set out to die for his beliefs. But why would someone from a middle-class background in the United States, who could have led a tranquil life, sacrifice himself for a cause? In a breakthrough paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology late last year, the psychologist Jocelyn Bélanger and team at the Université du Québec à Montréal identified the personality traits of those with a ‘psychological readiness to suffer and sacrifice’ his or her life for a cause. The result, a Self-Sacrifice scale, could be a boon to anti-terror operatives across the globe, especially in the wake of attacks on sites ranging from Paris and Copenhagen to Peshawar and Nairobi – places where terrorists have this century claimed thousands of lives.
Leon Lotz was once a member of the Koevoet – “crowbar” in Afrikaans – a paramilitary police unit created by South Africa’s apartheid regime to root out guerrillas in what is now Namibia. Thirty years later, something persuaded him to take up arms again in a foreign country. He was killed in March, apparently by friendly fire from a tank in northern Nigeria. Among the most striking facts about Lotz was his age: 59. A wealth of media reports, witness accounts and photos on social media suggest that he is not the only white mercenary who helped turn the tide against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in recent weeks, allowing Nigeria to hold a relatively peaceful election. Whether as technical advisers or frontline combatants, some are said to have come from the former Soviet Union but about 300 are reportedly from South Africa and nearing retirement age. Who are the members of this dad’s army, willing to risk death abroad and prosecution at home to fight someone else’s war? What is their motivation? And are they welcomed by those they are ostensibly helping?
Через 10 дней после 11 сентября 2001 года чудовищное нападение в техасском супермаркете покалечило судьбы двух человек: преступника и жертвы. В своём ошеломляющем выступлении Ананд Гирихарадас, автор книги «Настоящий американец», рассказывает историю того, что случилось дальше. Это история о двух путях, которыми может пойти Америка, и впечатляющий призыв к примирению.