P.W. Singer
Children at War
Pantheon, 288 pages, $25

Saddam Hussein, alarmed by his swift defeat in the first Gulf War, formed the Ashbal Saddam. Saddam’s “Lion Cubs” were his very own Hitler Jugend, boys ten to fifteen trained in weaponry, tactics, unthinking party loyalty, and cruelty. Doubtless many of them battle U.S. troops even today. This fact is little discussed by those who smirk at the assertion that Iraq’s was an “evil” regime. In P. W. Singer’s Children at War, a dispassionate study of child armies, the Ashbal Saddam is one among many state and non-state armies identified that disregard the rules of warfare—and of the most basic morality.

Singer informs us that “[t]he generally accepted estimate is that well over 300,000 children are currently fighting in wars or have recently been demobilized...

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