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Why Obama Must Commit to Cluster Munitions Ban

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mary Shaw     Permalink
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On December 3, 100 countries signed the Cluster Munitions Convention, which prohibits the use of cluster bombs.

So what rogue nations were conspicuously absent? The primary makers or users of cluster bombs -- the U.S., Israel, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan.

This is the company we keep.

The problem with cluster bombs is that they are imprecise, and are notorious for killing or maiming innocent civilians, including children.

Cluster bombs are indiscriminate weapons, meaning that they cannot distinguish between an enemy solder and a civilian child. They kill whoever crosses their path. Furthermore, the clusters release numerous "bomblets" and many of them do not explode on impact. So they lie around and become de facto anti-personnel mines. Even worse, they sometimes look like toys to a child.

In fact, according to a study by Handicap International, 98 percent of cluster bomb victims are civilians and 27 percent are children.

But the U.S. doesn't want to join the civilized world in banning the use of these cluster bombs. As the Washington Post reported back in May when the new Convention was initially passed, the U.S. calls cluster bombs "an integral, legitimate part of its arsenal."

Dead babies are simply dismissed as "collateral damage".

This is deplorable and despicable.

The Chicago Tribune quoted a spokesperson for Barack Obama's transition team as saying that Obama will "carefully review the new treaty and work closely [with] our friends and allies to ensure that the United States is doing everything feasible to promote protection of civilians."

That's not good enough.

If Obama truly wants to restore America's position in the world, he should waste no time in signing us on to the Cluster Munitions Convention.

It's time we started playing by the rules again.

 

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 

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