Friday, January 18, 2008

Cluster bombs--safe if taken as directed

From Reuters UK (1/16/08)

U.S. insists cluster bombs not bad if used right

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) - Cluster bombs, which nearly 100 countries are seeking to ban, should not be considered bad as long as states involved in conflicts use them responsibly, a senior United States official said on Wednesday.

The official, who declined to be identified, also told a background briefing that Washington was planning to create a "quick reaction force", or QRF, to handle threats to civilians from remnants of war, like cluster bombs.

The official's remarks, which could not be quoted directly, clearly confirmed that Washington -- like Russia, China and some other powers -- remained opposed to banning the weapon.

He spoke as negotiators on updating a 1981 international agreement on especially dangerous conventional weapons (CCW) met in Geneva to prepare for "expert discussions" on cluster weapons next year under the United Nations umbrella.

Cluster munitions include a variety of weapons that can spread up to hundreds of bomblets over a target area. Up to 30 percent fail to explode, posing a threat to civilians for many years after a conflict.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says some 400 million people in countries and regions like Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Russia's Chechnya live in effective minefields, under daily threat of maiming from cluster bombs.

Other campaigners say at least 13,000 civilians are known to have been killed or injured by the bombs -- used heavily most recently by Israel in its 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon -- in recent years...... (click here for rest or article)

Personally, I find it reprehensible that a bomb which kills thousands of innocent people years after being dropped, should be characterized as "not bad". And how is it remotely possible to use something like a cluster bomb "responsibly"? What the hell does that mean?

Well, naturally it's the kind of rationalization you'd expect from a country with an armaments industry as big as ours-- we have the singular honor of being by far the largest exporters of death in the world. More bucks for the bang than any other country.

Why haven't our lawmakers in DC put a stop to this--at least stop the manufacture and export of weapons like cluster bombs and land mines which kill and maim civilians for decades? It's not as if we don't have hundreds of other ways of killing people that are "safer". Perhaps you should ask Hillary Clinton, whose record in the Senate puts her squarely on the side of the death merchants.

Maybe it has something to do with the buying power that the super-profitable arms industry has in Washington. Yeah, probably something like that.

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