Sunday, October 07, 2007

Building Leaders of the Future

My 16-year-old daughter is packing for a week in Washington, DC, where she will participate in the National Youth Leadership Forum on National Security. They've been given a significant amount of background reading as preparation for a simulation exercise in which they will role play and debate the United States' response to a hypothetical situation in the Eastern Congo.

The rape epidemic plaguing this region is on the front page of today's New York Times.

Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War - New York Times

The whole story is horrifying, but for me, it was a tiny detail down near the end of the article that brought tears to my eyes. The U.N. peacekeepers have devised a new strategy to try to stop to the nocturnal raids on the villages. They go to a village and park their vehicles in the bush, headlights on all night, to signal that the peacekeepers are present. According to the article, sometimes in the morning they find 3,000 villagers curled up on the ground around them.

I emailed the story to Jules with this note. Honey, since your case study is about the Congo you should read this story. I am sorry to say it is very disturbing. but we need to know these things because we need to be part of figuring out a solution.

I'm proud that Jules is thinking about a career where she can make a difference in foreign affairs and human rights. Juxtaposed with this tragic story today is an Op Ed piece by Thomas Friedman Charge It to My Kids - New York Times. He puts an historical perspective on the Bush administration's free-spending approach to the war on terrorism, which is pushing the entire cost of the war onto future generations, with no sacrifice required of us today. As I urge my daughter to be a leader and make a difference, our commander in chief sends an entirely different message about turning a blind eye to consequences and accountability. It's an outrage.

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