In January, 2004 Paul Rockwell wrote in Common Dreams about cluster bomb use in Iraq by American-led Coalition Forces:
The formal war in Iraq has ended, and most of the big guns have fallen silent. Yet the death toll continues to rise, not merely because of the brutality of occupation and the resistance, but because of one of the most heinous, unpredictable weapons of modern war-the cluster bomb.
All over Iraq, unexploded cluster bombs, originally dropped by U.S. troops in populated areas, are still killing and maiming civilians, farm animals, wildlife-any living thing that touches them by accident.
Under Article 85 of the Geneva Conventions, it is a war crime to launch "an indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population in the knowledge that such an attack will cause an excessive loss of life or injury to civilians." Under the Hague Conventions, Article 22 and 23, "The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited," and "It is especially forbidden to kill treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army."
A cluster bomb is a 14-foot weapon that weighs about 1,000 pounds. When it explodes it sprays hundreds of smaller bomblets over an area the size of two or three football fields. The bomblets are bright yellow and look like beer cans. And because they look like playthings, thousands of children have been killed by dormant bomblets in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. Each bomblet sprays flying shards of metal that can tear through a quarter inch of steel.
The failure rate, the unexploded rate, is very high, often around 15 to 20 percent. When bomblets fail to detonate on the first round, they become land mines that explode on simple touch at any time. (SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE)
Cluster bombs are horrible, horrible weapons, no doubt about it. They should be eliminated from all weapons stockpiles everywhere. In fact in 2008, most of the world actually signed a treaty banning cluster bombs. NOT the Bush Administration though, in one of its very last nihilistic acts of defiance before turning over the reins to the Obama Administration, as Daniel Allen noted in this article:
BUSH ADMIN STANDS UP TO DEFEND CLUSTER BOMBS
by Daniel Allen
Well over half the world's governments agreed last week to "consign cluster munitions to the trash bin of history," in the words of the Cluster Munition Coalition, the civil society collective that delivered the treaty. Meeting in Dublin, Ireland, representatives of 110 governments completed negotiations on a new international treaty that bans the production, use, and export of all existing cluster munitions and commits them to destroy their stockpiles within eight years.
Cluster Bomb Ban Passed Over U.S. Objections
The U.S. government did not attend the negotiations, instead arm-twisting its allies to weaken the treaty. In the end, though, all other major NATO countries joined with the majority in agreeing to get rid of these weapons, which are designed to kill or maim every living thing in an area as large as two football fields. The vast majority of victims of cluster bombs have been civilians.
Stephen Mull, Acting Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, held a press briefing in the midst of the negotiations to explain why the U.S. government was not at the table. His explanations were creative. "If the convention passes in its current form, any U.S. military ship would be technically not able to get involved in a peacekeeping operation, in providing disaster relief or humanitarian assistance as we're doing right now in the aftermath of the earthquake in China and the typhoon in Burma, and not to mention everything that we did in Southeast Asia after the tsunami in December of 2004. And that's because most U.S. military units have in their inventory these kinds of weapons."
A reporter astutely asked Mull why it wasn't possible to "just take the munitions off your ships?" Mull responded: "Well, we -- the number one priority of any country's military is to defend its country. And if our military planners are determined that these are necessary to protect American interests, we -- it's not something that we're going to unilaterally get rid of." (SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE)
Sound like bullsh*t? That's because it is. The American military can do fine without them. It's just that a vicious strain of sadism had always run through the Bush Administration from the beginning and now to the end.
Birds of a Feather?
Ironically, it turns out that one of the world figures who lobbied the Bush Administration after 9/11 to be accepted into the "War on Terror" fold as part of his strategy to get out from under sanctions, - I am referring to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, 42-year strongman of Libya - shares even more things in common with Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld than we thought. His regime also, it has been shown, has an affection for cluster bombs, as revealed by this article excerpt today, April 15, 2011, on MSNBC.com: