The dangerous task of removing cluster bombs dropped by Israel on Lebanon
A U.S.-led push to regulate, rather than ban, cluster munitions failed Friday after 50 countries objected, following humanitarian campaigners’ claims that anything less than a outright ban would be an unprecedented reversal of human rights law.
While the United States, China and Russia want rules about the manufacture and use of cluster bombs, activists say such regulations would legitimize the munitions, backtracking from the Oslo Convention, an international treaty that seeks a worldwide ban.
“Against all odds it looks like we’re going to have success this evening,” Steve Goose, head of the arms division at Human Rights Watch, told a press conference in Geneva. “How often do you see the U.S., Russia, China, India, Israel and Belarus push for something, and they don’t get it? That has happened largely because of one powerful alliance driving the Oslo partnership.”
Cluster bombs, dropped by air or fired by artillery, scatter hundreds of bomblets across a wide area and can kill and maim civilians long after conflicts end…
Those lining up against the U.S. plan included the International Committee of the Red Cross and the top U.N. officials for human rights, emergency relief and development.
The U.N. agency chiefs said cluster bombs were a particular threat to children, who were attracted by their unusual, toy-like shapes and colors. They said they were extremely concerned at plans to do anything less than ban them…
Activists said the opposition to the U.S. proposal was led by Norway, Mexico and Austria, while 12 signatories to the 2008 Oslo Convention, including Japan, France and Germany, said they were in favor of regulation of cluster bombs under the CCW.
China and Russia, which like the United States are major producers of cluster munitions, were strongly supportive of the U.S. measure.
No surprises in any aspect of the politics on display here. Whether the question is one of allowing torture – or carrying on with the manufacture, deployment and distribution of anti-personnel weapons generally used by the most reactionary regimes on Earth – the United States has supported continuing use.
Questions of use and abuse of weapons using phosphorus, napalm – questions regarding carpet bombing, land mines and cluster bombs – and most recently the revival of torture as acceptable, the United States has lagged the rest of civilization. Whichever domestic decisions have been made by American voters, foreign policy enforced by military means and guided by allegiance to Pentagon protocols and Congressional fiat has relied on death and destruction applied with equal weight to military and civilian targets.
We accepted all the premises from the Axis we fought against in World War 2. And invented new rationales, more lies for the Cold War and beyond.