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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 11/12/11

U.S. Takes the Lead on Behalf of Cluster Bombs

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Slightly more than two months after he was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama secretly ordered a cruise missile attack on Yemen, using cluster bombs, which killed 44 innocent civilians, including 14 women and 21 children, as well as 14 people alleged to be "militants."

It goes without saying that -- unless you want Rick Perry to win in 2012 -- this act should in no way be seen as marring Obama's presidency or his character: what's a couple dozen children blown up as a part of a covert, undeclared air war? If anything, as numerous Democrats have ecstatically celebrated, such acts show how Tough and Strong the Democrats are: after all, ponder the massive amounts of nobility and courage it takes to sit in the Oval Office and order this type of aggression on defenseless tribal regions in Yemen. As R.W. Appel put it on the front page of The New York Times back in 1989 when glorifying George H.W. Bush's equally courageous invasion of Panama: "most American leaders since World War II have felt a need to demonstrate their willingness to shed blood" and doing so has become "a Presidential initiation rite."

But one aspect of the December, 2009, attack that perhaps did merit some more critical scrutiny was the use of cluster bombs, weapons which "scatter hundreds of bomblets over a large area but with limited accuracy and high failure rates." The inevitability of "duds" -- "unexploded ordnance" -- poses a great risk to civilians, often well after the conflict has ended, since -- like land mines -- they often detonate when stumbled into by children and other innocents long after they disperse. According to the Cluster Munitions Coalition, cluster bombs "caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon system." As Wired pointed out, while the U.S. used these weapons in both Iraq and Afghanistan, "neither the Taliban nor Saddam used cluster bombs against U.S. troops." And here is how the Council on Foreign Relations describes the impact these weapons had in the 2006 Israeli bombing campaign in Lebanon:

They left dozens dead or maimed on both sides of the conflict. The reason . . . is because the "fighting in southern Lebanon was often in villages and towns where people were living." Israel dropped up to four million submunitions on Lebanese soil, one million of which remain unexploded "duds," according to the UN Mine Action Coordination Center. Throughout the thirty-four-day conflict, the United States resupplied Israel's arsenal of cluster bombs, which prompted an investigation by the State Department to examine if Israel had violated secret agreements it signed with the United States governing their use. Hezbollah, meanwhile, fired thousands of cluster munitions--a Chinese-made Type 81 122mm rocket--into northern Israel, a number of which targeted civilian populations, according to human rights groups.
Continue reading this article at Salon

 

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Glenn Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place (more...)
 

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