An Easy One for Obama--Sign the Anti-Cluster Bomb Treaty!
Sign the Anti-Cluster Bomb Treaty ASAP!
A quick and easy way for President-elect Obama to demonstrate he meant what he said when he promised change would be for him to join the growing number of civilized nations and sign the international anti-cluster bomb treaty ASAP after he takes office in January. This treaty which the Bush administration has refused to sign was agreed to be signed yesterday by Afghanistan. By agreeing to sign the treaty Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai led his country in joining 90 other nations in pledging to ban the use or storage of cluster bombs and, as well, demonstrated his independence from the Bush administration which has opposed the treaty.
According to this morning's (12-4-08) New York Times, Norway's foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Stoere, said he expected several more nations to sign on Thursday. Among them, however, will not by the United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan or several other Middle Eastern nations. Of the 90 signatory countries, 18 out of 26 NATO members have signed the treaty.
Mr. Stoere said that universal agreement to the treaty was not necessary for the anti-cluster bomb treaty to work. "What we have adopted today is going to create profound change. If you us or stockpile cluster weapons after today, you will be breaking a new international norm."
Whether dropped from aircreaft or fired from artillery, cluster bombs scatter dozens or even hundreds of small explosives across an area the size of a football field, Some of the bomblets fail to explode when they hit the ground and remain a hazard for children, farmers and others long after the conflict ends. Clearing the unexploded bombs is costly and difficult.
"This is a weapon that just can't stop killing," said Thomas Nash, coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition, a London-based group of organizations. Nash said that Laos was the country most saturated with un-exp0loded cluster munitions, including types that attract children because they look like "little baseballs." They are a legacy of the United States' bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail during the Vietnam war. Georgians, he said face their own clanup problem following what human rights groups say were cluster bomb exchanges during the recent conflict with Russia.
Israel fired significant numbers of cluster bombs into sourthern Lebanon during a monthlong conflict with Hezbollah in 2006. Afterward, United Natios peacekeepers reported unexploded munitions strewn across the landscape.
The United States defended its decision not to sign the treaty. James Lawrence, director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement of the State Department, said cluster bomgs were sometimes more humane than conventional bombs. As an example, he said that antennas on a roof could ber taken out efficently with a cluster bomb, without bringing the building down. [Sounds to me like we need a new director of Weapons Removal and Abatement!]
Defense Secretary Gates answer--Better cluster bombs! In a June 2008 policy memo Gates ordered all U.S. military services to gradually replace their least reliable cluster bombs. He said that by 2018 only munitions with a failure rate of less than 1 percent would be employed.
American officials lamely said the United States would continue pursuing measured restrictions on the use of cluster bombs by trying to amend the 1980 United nations convention on conventional weapons.
The cluster munitions convention will not take effect until six months after 30 nations have officially ratified it--a milestone that Norwegian organizers said would be acueived by 2009. Signatories agree to destroy their stockpiles within eight years of the treaty taking effect. Each signer also promises to make "its best efforts to discourage" non-treaty countries from using the weapons.
BARACK OBAMA, HERE'S YOUR CHANCE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT YOU HAVE SERIOUS INTENTIONS TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE!
Based on a NYTimes article 12-4-08 by Walter Gibbs and Kirk Semple.
[The references to Obama as well as other changes and comments above are my own not those of Messrs. Gibbs or Semple.]
Child Victim of Israeli Cluster Bombs in Lebanon
Child Victim of a Cluster Bomb
Afghanistan Agrees to Sign Cluster Bomb Treaty
In a demonstration of independence from the Bush administration president Karzai of Afghanistan agreed this week to join with 90 other nations, including 18 NATO allies in signing the anti-cluster bomb treaty. Bush had pressured Karzai not to sign.