can’t see the forest

OK, Let’s Talk About Cluster Bombs.

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I can’t imagine sitting down with a child and opening a conversation that way, but in many parts of the world, communities are already painfully familiar with the horrors of these aggregate weapons of destruction.

Cluster bombs are antipersonnel bombs designed to maim and kill people over large areas of terrain, creating zones in which it is very dangerous for an enemy—or, hey, a civilian village—to operate. They are typically dropped from overhead and burst before impact to disperse many small bomblets. Many of these bomblets do not in turn explode upon impact, but remain active and unexploded on the ground where they are stumbled upon by soldiers or small children. Often the bomblets are brightly colored.

The U.S. manufactures and stockpiles many cluster bombs, and exports them to other nations such as Israel. They were used extensively in operations related to the Vietnam War; more than 60% of southeast Asian victims of cluster bombing are children. Residual bomblets left behind on the Plain of Jars in Laos, for instance, continue to wound and kill even today. The United States has not acted to clean up the hazardous debris.

The Guardian reports that an Oslo conference has initiated a new arms agreement which calls for an international ban on cluster bombs, a measure supported by the UK. The United States, Israel, Russia, and China did not attend. Signatories would be required to eliminate the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of these munitions beginning in 2008. While the treaty is nonbinding, it could help activists put pressure on non-compliant governments to sign on.

There needs to be a lot of noise about these particularly savage instruments of savagery. The potential hazards of nuclear warfare are intense and real, but these lesser tools of the trade are destroying innocent lives here and today. Particularly, U.S. candidates for the presidency in 2008 should not hesitate to take the opportunity for a stand against evil, right?

Oops. It’s not evil if we use, if we push. I forget these things.

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2 Responses

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  1. Bluebear2 said, on 3/1/07 at 8:21 pm

    I haven’t got used to the green yet. I click your link and expect to see the black and – Zing – a green explosion.

    (I have a wide screen so your column fills the middle 1/3 of the screen and the rest is GREEN!

  2. Curtis said, on 3/6/07 at 1:14 am

    BB2, I accidentally deleted one of your comments (sorry!!) You were mentioning some surprise that cluster bombs have been around for a while, which was surprising to me, too.

    My screen is also wide, so it’s an awful lot of menacing green everywhere. I’m going to do a little experimenting this morning to see if I can find another dark theme that’s a bit more readable.


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