Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cluster Bombs

One of the very first posts on this Politics & Policy page after the Clarion Content was split into subsections was entitled "On the wrong side again." It detailed how the Bush II administration had America refusing to sign a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are canisters packed with small bombs, called bomblets that spread over a large area when a canister is dropped from a plane or fired from the ground. A percentage off the bomblets often go unexploded only later to cause awful injuries to innocent civilians. The Clarion Content noted that China, Russia, Israel, India and Pakistan also opposed the treaty. It was little noticed and not mentioned that America's imperial governor in Afghanistan had their apparatus of state opposed the the cluster bomb treaty, as well.

It is all but inconceivable that Afghanistan could oppose a cluster bomb treaty. The Russians made extensive use of them in their failed conquest of the territory of the Afghan state, circa 1978-1989. They wounded and maimed thousands of Afghans, many of whom were civilians and children. Last week, hours before the treaty signing ceremony, the Afghan government of Hamad Karzai reversed course. The New York Times speculated that the shift in position reflected the waning influence of the Bush II administration in Afghanistan, in the failed president's final weeks as a lame duck. The Times said the announcement was unexpected in Oslo and, "A group of Afghan survivors of cluster bombs, most of them in wheelchairs or on crutches, burst into tears when they heard [it.]"

Hopefully, President-elect Obama will recognize that cluster bombs, like land mines are nefarious weapons designed to punish an enemy's non-combatant civilians. They are not a weapon America needs in its arsenal.


SongInHerSky said...

wow. i hardly thought i'd ever have occasion to use these words, but "go afghanistan!"

Aaron said...

Indeed, Song, "Go Afghanistan!"

Odds are residents of Afghanistan are hearty folk, they and their forebears having successfully resisted invasion by the British, Soviet and United States empires. Too bad that they don't fit well into the modern conception of the nation-state. They are likely to continue to receive a very tiny, short, little end of the stick.