Sunday, June 01, 2008  

Vicious and Pernicious

Cluster bombs are a hideous evil that the US has used repeatedly in Iraq. Although not the subject of a definitive weapons ban, they have been recognized as causing unbelievable damage to civilian populations.

" the Air Force confirmed that 63 CBU-87 cluster bombs were dropped in Iraq between May 1, 2003 and August 1, 2006. A CENTAF spokesman contacted for confirmation that none of these were dropped on or after January 1, 2006, offered no response. His superior officer, Lt. Col. Johnn Kennedy, the Deputy Director of CENTAF Public Affairs, similarly ignored this reporter's requests for clarification.

These 12,726 BLU-97 bomblets -- each CBU-87 contains 202 BLU-97s or "Combined Effects Bombs" (CEBs) which have anti-personnel, anti-tank, and incendiary capabilities or "kill mechanisms" -- dropped since May 2003 are, according to statistics provided by Human Rights Watch, in addition to almost two million cluster submunitions used by coalition forces in Iraq in March and April 2003."


Many of the bomblets lie unexploded, sitting in wait for an unsuspecting hand to pick them or for someone to step on them.

And they don't just kill civilians.

One of the first US casualties was Jesus Suarez del Solar whose father tells of how he died while stepping on a cluster bomb.

It never ceases to amaze me how people are unable to process the information that the US has used deadly and highly questionable weaponry on the Iraqi civilian population: cluster bombs, depleted uranium, white phosphorous. Things that we would not hesitate to label war crimes, or crimes against humanity had someone else done this.

Now comes the latest:

"On Friday, 111 nations, including major NATO allies, adopted a treaty that sets an eight-year deadline to eliminate stockpiles of cluster arms — pernicious weapons that scatter thousands of small bombs across a wide area, where they pose a long-term deadly threat to innocents. The Bush administration not only failed to sign the treaty but vigorously opposed it." ( NYT)

How is it possible to set a nation up as an arbitor of democracy, justice, and human rights when that same nation (or rather, administration) can't even bother to see certain types of weaponry for what it is: an affront to universal decency and human rights?

Why do we need to depend on the sneakiness of cluster bombs to defend ourselves against a civilian population that has done nothing to us? Why kill and maim a population (and sometimes our own military) in such a devious and far-reaching way? Is that what you want your tax dollars doing in your name? Killing some little kid a couple of years down the road? Maiming someone beyond repair as they go innocently about their life?

Is this what the US stands for?

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