The New York Times today has a truly bizarre article regarding the U.S. and cluster bombs. The advocacy group Cluster Munition Coalition just issued its annual report finding that cluster bombs had been used in five countries this year: Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and Sudan. This is what The Paper of Record, in its report by Rick Gladstone, said this morning about the international reaction to that report (emphasis added):
"The use of these weapons was criticized by all 117 countries that have joined the treaty, which took effect five years ago. Their use was also criticized by a number of others, including the United States, that have not yet joined the treaty but have abided by its provisions."
As Americans, we should feel proud that our government, though refusing to sign the cluster ban treaty, has nonetheless "abided by its provisions" -- if not for the fact that this claim is totally false. The U.S. has long been and remains one of the world's most aggressive suppliers of cluster munitions, and has used those banned weapons itself in devastating ways.
In December 2009 -- just weeks after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize -- President Obama ordered a cruise missile strike on al-Majala in southern Yemen. That strike "killed 35 women and children." Among the munitions used in that strike were cluster bombs, including ones designed to scatter 166 "bomblets."
Although the U.S. at first refused to confirm responsibility, a Yemeni journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, visited the scene and found irrefutable proof that it was done by the U.S., a finding subsequently confirmed by Amnesty International as well as a cable released by WikiLeaks. As a result of Shaye's reporting of U.S. responsibility, President Obama demanded that the Yemeni journalist be imprisoned and the Yemeni puppet regime complied; Amnesty's Philip Luther said at the time that "there are strong indications that the charges against [Shaye] are trumped up and that he has been jailed solely for daring to speak out about U.S. collaboration in a cluster munitions attack which took place in Yemen." So not only did Obama use cluster bombs against Yemeni civilians, but he then forced the imprisonment for years of the Yemeni journalist who reported it.