When it comes to the ‘children war’, how much are we really talking about?

The Children’s Rights Campaign (CRC) is a group of activists and academics who believe that children in the US have been deprived of their civil and political rights since the early 1970s.

In an op-ed published in the New York Times last year, the group’s founder, Richard Avedon, argued that the US government has used the “torture, starvation and imprisonment” of children as an excuse to prosecute them for crimes like ‘political dissent’ or ‘illegal assembly’.

In response to that claim, a report commissioned by the CRC called “Torture and Political Prisonerhood in America” was published last year.

In the piece, Avedons team at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based legal advocacy group, argue that the idea that the “children war” is a new phenomenon has been grossly overstated.

“The Children’s War was originally used to justify military interventions and wars in other countries during the Cold War,” said the report, which was produced by the Centre’s Litigation Clinic.

The group also argues that the concept of “treating children as combatants” is actually an older, more-established concept that dates back to the 19th century.

As the world became increasingly industrialized, the concept “became more widely understood that the government and military had the authority to use their power against the civilian population in order to protect the interests of the military and the state,” the report says.

For its part, the CRC is also critical of the “unnecessarily harsh and disproportionate” treatment of children by the US and its allies.

It argues that children who are suspected of being political dissidents are often “subjected to the most brutal forms of detention, including solitary confinement and interrogation, with no recourse to the courts,” as well as the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and “specially designed physical and psychological conditions to extract confessions.”

In addition to focusing on the military-industrial complex, the report also argues against the notion that children are not children, because the US “continues to criminalize their speech and conduct.”

Avedons report also draws on the work of two prominent scholars, Michael Lerner and Paul H. Singer, who argue that “childhood” is not the same as “child,” and that children have a unique capacity to make moral decisions and to understand their rights.

However, the authors also acknowledge that “children may have been subjected to the same forms of abuse as adults” and that it is a “difficult distinction” to make.

Although the report concludes that “the ‘children’s war’ has never been used to excuse torture and arbitrary detention,” it is also scathing in its criticism of “political prisonerhood.”

“We can no longer pretend that torture is the only justification for military action, because torture, while sometimes justified, is a deeply harmful way to enforce a regime,” the authors write.

With the US already spending $4 billion on its “tough on crime” approach to combatting violent crime, the fact that the CRC’s report is being used to argue that there is no need to use torture in the war on drugs is hardly surprising.