Clusters Last Stand: Hypocrisy

July 10, 2008

A shitload of stuff the US says and then does is an outright lie, or at best, a stance hidden behind a forest of double-standards.

Case in full point: Cluster bombs.
These little bits of long-term horror have been used repeatedly by all the world’s military since the Russians introduced the Germans to its capabilities in 1943.
Termed a ‘submuntion’ due it to being a second-tier explosive device, coming out of an original ‘munition,’ a cluster bomb can be fired from the ground or dropped from airplanes.
After discharge, the big mama munition break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions and saturating an area that can be the size of several football fields. Anybody within that area, be they military or civilian, is very likely to be killed or seriously injured.

A side-effect is slaughter of the innocent as a good percentage of these so-called ‘submuntions’ do not denonate when originally used.
Although designed to explode upon impact, many do not, and thusly leave a fairly-large area literally riddled with unexploded ordnance waiting

The US has always used cluster bombs, real big time in Southeast Asia:

  • The ICRC estimates that in Laos alone, nine to 27 million unexploded submunitions remain, and some 11,000 people have been killed or injured, more than 30 percent of them children.
    An estimate based on US military databases states that 9,500 sorties in Cambodia delivered up to 87,000 air-dropped cluster munitions.

And the little devils are back in the news again this week and the US is still playing a heavy-handed villain, deploying a hypocritical stance to keep these killing-field-makers on the market.
Current US Defense Chief Bob Gates (and who might end up being Obama’s defense chief, too!) has reportedly ordered the Pentagon to clean-up/improve cluster performance by 2018 to reduce the danger to civilians.

  • “The policy is that by 2018, we will procure cluster munitions that only have a proven dud rate of less than 1 percent, said a senior defense official, who asked not to be identified.

    An international treaty that bans existing cluster munitions and requires the destruction of existing stockpiles in eight years was adopted May 30 by 111 countries, including U.S. allies. But the U.S., Russia and China have refused to join.
    Steve Goose, of Human Rights Watch, said the new U.S. policy was “too little, too late.”
    “Most key U.S. allies have already rejected cluster bombs because innocent civilians are killed and maimed, not only when the weapons are used, but also months and years after that.
    “Knowing this, how in good conscience can the U.S. wait 10 years to accept a lesser standard?” he said in a statement.

Yes, and the operative phrase? — “in good conscience

Most of the civilized world — excluding the US, China and Russia — can see the problem here.
The UK was a latecomer signatory to the cluster-bomb treaty adopted in Dublin, Ireland, and the action must have miffed Decider George, who needs those kinds of weapons for his ludicrous, mega-dangerous-to-every-living-thing Wide World of War on Terror.
The treaty was signed despite “US efforts to undermine” the whole conference.

  • American officials are not attending the treaty talks but have lobbied hard in world capitals to undermine the treaty. Diplomats in Dublin say US Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice and even President George W. Bush have been telephoning their counterparts around the world to promote US positions.

    The US won some concessions on the issue of “interoperability.”
    The draft treaty text contains a loophole in Article 21, allowing treaty signatories to “engage in military cooperation and operations with States not parties to this Convention that might engage in activities prohibited to a State party.”
    The negotiating states have insisted that the provision is needed for situations where the US might use cluster munitions against the wishes of its allies.
    But the wording is vague enough so as to allow states to assist the United States in operations where it uses cluster munitions.
    The US government has argued that prohibiting such assistance would have hindered humanitarian operations around the world. But identical provisions in the land-mines treaty have had no such effect in the 11 years since the treaty went into effect.

Just how hypocritical can one bunch of assholes be? — “…would have hindered humanitarian operations…”

And this a commentary from the UK’s Guardian last May:

  • Clusters, however, are still used in massive numbers.
    It is hard to imagine the deadly legacy of one million cluster duds hidden in the homes, gardens, and fields of southern Lebanon.
    I tiptoed through those terrifying booby-trapped killing fields in the course of investigations for Human Rights Watch.
    It will take years of work to clear the land of the bitter fruit of conflict.
    They maim and kill, but they also mean you cannot farm the land or walk the fields.
    Imagine if the green and pleasant pastures of England were suddenly off limits, the hospitals filled with injured, the morgues with the dead.
    And even when life started to turn around, the farmers had to sit idly by contemplating their unplanted fields, unable to make a living for fear of stepping on a hidden bomb.

    I have to wonder if the members of the British delegation or their political masters would be comfortable with their children playing in the fields of southern Lebanon.
    I am scared to walk even in the cleared areas – and I am a grown-up with a soldier’s training.

Good personal perspective on cluster bombs — Read the entire piece here.

In this post-Soviet period of US history, hypocrisy appears to be the norm not the exception to policy toward people, places or things “not in the interest” of this country.
The US would cluster-bomb the living-shit out of Bosnia, but turned the other ass-cheek to the genocide in Rwanda.
And of course, Decider George and his military:

  • Pentagon officials have said cluster bombs save the lives of U.S. troops and have a legitimate role in its arsenal.
    “They provide distinct advantages against a range of targets, where their use reduces risks to U.S. forces and can save U.S. lives,” according to a Pentagon statement.

Save lives? Whose lives? Civilian lives?
A few US lives for a whole shitload of Other lives?

Hypocrisy toward the Other.

And this last month from The Independent Florida Alligator, the newspaper for the University of Florida — which we attended and in 1973 a young writer for the ‘Florida’ Alligator when it was booted from the Student Center and off campus for being too pushy and nosy, thus the ‘Independent’ in the current name — seemed to hit the cluster of hypocrisy right on:

  • For Russia, Pakistan and China, countries whose leaders have historically disregarded human rights and make no apologies about it, the decision not to sign this enlightened and humane treaty makes perfect sense.
    But for the U.S. and Israel to continuously rant about the depravity of “terrorists” while simultaneously reserving the right to use weapons which they know maim and kill almost exclusively civilians and children, brings a whole new depth to the word “hypocrisy.”
    Sadly, we have now lost all moral credibility in the eyes of the world community.
    We do not have the right to label any person, organization or state a “terrorist” until we actually walk the walk and start holding ourselves up to the same standards we so disingenuously demand of the rest of the world.

The US has lost the morals — as if ever had any.

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