Five years ago, I was introduced to this brilliant man in my book club. We read his work "Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda" which has left a lasting impression on me. I meant to read this book ages ago but, what can I say, so little time, so many books.
The same as in his first book, "They Fight Like Soldiers" has a powerful message and shows so much compassion with the victims of these terrible wars that rage through the whole world. Because victims they are, even if they look like fighters. According to Dallaire, child soldiers are "...any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking, or has taken a direct part in hostilities."
He started a fight against the abuse of children in any way, against pulling children into a war abusing their innocence and thereby destroying their lives. As a former member of the army who has seen them in combat, he contributes a lot of his knowledge, both civilian and military to the trials to abolish child soldiers.
A great piece of this book is not just his non-fictional description of the whole "operation", he also adds a few fictional stories of children who fight light soldiers and die like children. This way, it is easier to understand the recruitment and training of these children and how they end up becoming soldiers in the first place.
If you are interested in what is going on (mainly) in Africa and would like to know what can be done for a hopefully peaceful future, read this book. Roméo Dallaire fights a great fight and needs all the support he can get.
Another great quote from this book:
"The only impediment in this new era of global connectedness maybe be risk of being overwhelmed. As technological mega companies like Google advance the digitization of all materials that have been written and printed, from fiction to the most complex scientific matters, access to information is limitless. You also have access to online, real-time observation of any specific spot on Earth - you can even check out what the locals are drinking at the cantina. There are downsides to this, but there are also tremendous upsides: we are entering an era in which evil has no place to hide and there is no limit to how we can present the good." (page 259)
From the back cover: "As the leader of the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda, Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire came face-to-face with the horrifying reality of child soldiers during the genocide of 1994. Since then the incidence of child soldiers has proliferated in conflicts around the world: they are cheap, plentiful, expendable, with an incredible capacity, once drugged and brainwashed, for both loyalty and barbarism.
The dilemma of the adult soldier who faces them is poignantly expressed in this book's title: when children are shooting at you, they are soldiers, but as soon as they are wounded or killed, they are children once again. Believing that not one of us should tolerate a child being used in this fashion, Dallaire has made it his mission to end the use of child soldiers. Where Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone gave us wrenching testimony of the devastating experience of being a child soldier, Dallaire offers intellectually daring and enlightened approaches to the child soldier phenomenon, and insightful, empowering solutions to eradicate it."