Posts Tagged ‘cluster bombs’

The weapons that will never stand down

July 6, 2010
by Ramzy Baroud

Cluster bombs are in the news again. Amnesty International has confirmed that 35 women and children were killed by the weapons following a US attack on an alleged al-Qaida hideout in Yemen.

There were initial attempts to bury the story. Yemen officially denied that any civilians had been killed as a result of the December 17 strike on al-Majala in the south.

However it proved impossible to cover up what is believed to be the largest loss of life in a single US attack in the country.

Even if the civilian casualties were a miscalculation on the part of the US military, these deaths underline that cluster munitions are far too dangerous a weapon to be used in war. They have no place whatsoever in civilian areas.

Continues >>

Malalai Joya: The ‘war on terror’ is a war on the Afghan people

October 12, 2009
Malalai Joya, Green Left, Oct 10, 2009

Outspoken anti-war and democracy campaigner Malalai Joya was suspended from the Afghan parliament in 2007 for speaking out against corruption and the domination of the country by warlords. US current affairs weradio show Democracy Now has called her “the bravest woman in Afghanistan”. Below is an abridged statement from Joya to Australian anti-war campaigners. The statement was read out at the national protests against the Afghanistan war on October 7. *****

I would like to thank you for your solidarity with the suffering and ill-fated Afghan people and for raising your voice against the wrong and devastating policies of your government in Afghanistan.

Eight years ago, the US and its allies occupied Afghanistan under the nice slogans of “democracy”, “women’s rights” and “freedom”, but today we are as far from these values as we were in 2001.

Days after the invasion, the brutal regime of the Taliban was toppled but another bunch of terrorist warlords of the Northern Alliance, who are no different from the Taliban, were supported by the West and imposed on our people.

Continued >>

Ban Land Mines and Cluster Bombs

April 14, 2009

by Jody Williams | The Boston Globe,  April 13, 2009

President Obama is demonstrating that his willingness to tackle the horrors of nuclear weapons has teeth. He and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia announced earlier this month new talks on a treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expires in December. Negotiations will include permanent reductions of their nuclear arsenals beyond any previously agreed upon numbers.

In addition, Obama has put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of the effort for the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by the Senate. Russia has already ratified that important nuclear treaty.

For this bold leadership – especially coming on the heels of an administration for whom international treaties were an anathema – the president must be applauded. Some of us actively involved in arms control, disarmament, and international humanitarian law also believe that Obama can take further steps to underscore his commitment to a multilateral approach to arms control and disarmament.

The most obvious would be joining both the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The United States did not play a fundamental leadership role in the process that resulted in the Mine Ban Treaty and walked out of the final treaty negotiations. Ten years later the country stood outside the process – officially at least – that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The international instruments banning land mines and cluster bombs are hybrids of disarmament and international humanitarian law – the laws of war. Each bans an entire class of weapons. Each rests on fundamental principles of the laws of war about the illegality of indiscriminate weapons and that the “means and methods” of warfare must not have an effect on civilian populations disproportionate to their immediate military gain.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the international treaty banning antipersonnel land mines. The treaty has been called a “gift to the world.” Today 156 nations – 80 percent of the governments in the world – are party to it. Its implementation and compliance has been remarkable – again a tribute to government-civil society partnership and cooperation. A similar model of “new diplomacy,” closely following the template of the Mine Ban Treaty, negotiated a treaty banning cluster munitions in Dublin in May. In December, it was signed in Oslo 94 nations; now it stands at 96.

Obama could show important leadership in joining both treaties; Russia hasn’t joined the treaties either. Why move so boldly on nuclear weapons issues without also eliminating these other weapons that violate the same principles of international law?

Tackling the Mine Ban Treaty first should be easy. The United States has been in virtual compliance with the treaty since long before it entered into force. We have not used antipersonnel land mines since 1991 – the first Gulf War. We stopped their export in late 1992. No production has taken place since the mid-1990s and the US military has forsworn their future production. Some 3 million stockpiled land mines have already been destroyed. Even the argument that we “need them for Korea” holds little weight, since the mines in the DMZ belong to South Korea. Given the above, it would seem that joining the Mine Ban Treaty is essentially all benefit at very little cost.

While the United States does not have the same record on the (non)use of cluster munitions that it has on antipersonnel land mines, that is not a reason for the president to avoid signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Obama made a good first step last month when he signed a law permanently banning nearly all cluster bomb exports from the United States. Some of our closest military allies have already signed the cluster convention, including Germany, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom.

During the invasion of Baghdad, some US commanders refused to use the weapon, recognizing it both as a violation of the laws of war and a weapon that would threaten their own troops as they rapidly advanced through areas already littered with the weapon by cluster munitions strikes.

Reconciling the needs and desires of the military with achieving and advancing larger policy goals is no easy matter. But if Obama is as determined as he says to take on the huge issue of eliminating nuclear weapons, surely he can get rid of land mines and cluster bombs now. These weapons – often described as weapons of mass destruction in slow motion – are reviled by tens of millions around the world. The majority of the countries in the world have already banned them. Surely, it is more than time for the United States to join their ranks.

Jody Williams served as founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, with which she shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. She is chairwoman of the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

India seeking cluster bombs from US

December 24, 2008

* Indian Defence Ministry seeks fast-track purchase of 500 bombs
* If approved by the US, purchase to cost India $375 million

By Iftikhar Gilani
| Daily Times, Dec 24, 2008

NEW DELHI: India is seeking the purchase of 500 advanced-technology cluster bombs from the US. Although the order was placed in September, reports here suggest that the Indian Defence Ministry has called on the Americans to fast track the purchase amid rising tensions with Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

A private news channel reported here that New Delhi had specifically asked the US to provide 510 units of the American CBU-105 cluster bomb along with full logistics support services. If Washington approves the sale, the bombs will cost New Delhi $375 million. Pentagon’s Foreign Arms Sales Division has already notified the US Congress about India’s request and the proposed sale.

According to the notification, “This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the US by helping strengthen the US-India strategic relationship and improve the security of an important partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace and economic progress in South Asia.” Cluster bombs are actually a conglomeration of weapons. When released from an aircraft, they splinter into hundreds, even thousands, of ‘bomblets’ that land over a large area.

All bomblets do not explode when they hit the ground, but they can go off later – creating an indefinite minefield, which poses a severe threat to civilians and children long after the conflict is over. Former Indian Air Force western commander VK Bhatia says that although the effectiveness of cluster bombs against terrorist camps is debatable, they are lethal in all circumstances. Control Arms Foundation of India Vice President Anuradha Chenoy, however, has opposed the purchase, saying the government should base its anti-terror policies on intelligence instead of cluster bombs. On December 3, the United Nations launched the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) to ban the use of cluster bombs across the world. So far, 94 countries have signed the CCM. The prominent countries which have either opposed the convention or refused to sign or ratify it include India, Pakistan, the US, Israel, Russia and China.

100 Nations to Ban Cluster Bombs – But not the biggest user, the USA

November 16, 2008

By Angus Crawford | RINF.COM, Nov 14, 2008

On 3 December, more than 100 countries, including the UK, will sign a treaty banning cluster bombs.

As a result Britain, by law, will have to destroy more than 30 million explosives.

The UK does not have the facilities, so they are being exported to Germany for disposal.

“I feel good to work for a good thing in the world and for peace,” says Jorg Fiegert, production manager for Nammo Demil.

It runs a site in Pinnow in Germany which destroys munitions.

Over the next five years its work will include taking apart bomblets from British cluster munitions.

“It can punch through armour,” Jorg explains as he holds up a British bomblet.

It is only the size of an egg cup, and came from the MLRS, the Multiple Launch Rocket System.

Each one has six rockets, and within each rocket are 644 bomblets. They are designed to split open in the air and spread small bomblets over a wide area.

Cluster bombs have been used in countries including Cambodia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Lebanon, and were used in the conflict in Lebanon in 2006.

Those who ratify the convention in December will then have eight years to get rid of their stockpiles of the weapons.

The UK government had already begun getting rid of its stocks by shipping them to Germany and elsewhere.

Nammo has a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to destroy 28 million of these bomblets, and there are another 3.5 million in other systems to be disposed of.

“In principle everything except the explosive can be recycled,” explains Ola Pikner, Nammo’s vice president of marketing.

Whole weapons enter the factory, but raw materials for civilian use leave it.

He shows me how the MLRS rocket is split open.

The bomblets are extracted, the fuses are cut off and the copper inners are removed.

The explosive is then burnt off using red hot plasma.

MLRS

The bombs have been used in Cambodia, Lebanon and Kosovo

The copper, aluminium and other metals are sold for scrap. The packaging for the bomblets is burnt for heating.

This will take up to 40% of their work for the next five years.

“There is huge potential”, says Ola Pikner, “but the number of cluster munitions from each country is not known.”

Campaigners believe there may be as many as a billion of them across Europe.

But the world’s biggest users – Israel and the USA – will not sign this treaty.

Nor, it’s thought, will China, Russia, India and Pakistan.

But Thomas Nash from the Cluster Munition Coalition remains undaunted by this.

“What you are going to see is a comprehensive stigmatisation of the weapon,” he says.

“Countries that don’t sign up won’t be able to use this weapon on operations with those that do.

“You’re going to see this weapon becoming a thing of the past.”

The Failed Presidency of George W. Bush: A Dismal Legacy

October 20, 2008

[PART I]

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”Plato (427-347 B.C.)

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” Aesop (620–560 B.C.)

“When fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.” H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), American author

“We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course.’ Stay the course? … I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw all the bums out!” Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler Corporation (book: Where Have All the Leaders Gone?)

Whoever is elected president in the coming November 4 American election will inherit a most miserable situation on nearly all fronts. This is because George W. Bush has been one of the worst presidents the U.S. has ever had, if not the worst. It is widely recognized that he was a below average politician who led his country on the wrong track, both domestically and internationally. Today, only a meager 9 percent of Americans dare to say that their country is moving in the right direction.

As a matter of fact, a very large majority of Americansboth Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and of rural areas, high school graduates and college-educated— all say that the United States has been headed in the wrong direction under George W. Bush’s stewardship. Bush’s approval rating reflects the lack of confidence that Americans have in him and his administration. In fact, George W. Bush has recorded the lowest approval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll. And, around the world, the United States has never had a leader who commands so little respect and confidence. Most people in the U.S. and abroad will find satisfaction in seeing his term come to an end.

This is a terrible indictment of the Bush Administration that has presided over America’s destinies for the last eight years. What is more disconcerting, this all came after George W. Bush won the presidential election in 2000, with fewer popular votes than Democratic candidate Al Gore, after a one-judge-majority decision of the Supreme Court, in effect, gave him the presidency. Therefore, this is an administration that had no widespread democratic mandate to do what it has done. And it has done a lot of things wrong. In fact, many people think this has been a morally bankrupt administration.

International disaster: An Illegal and Immoral War of Aggression

At the center of this fiasco, is the fact that the Bush-Cheney administration and its neocon cohort rushed to exploit the 9/11 terrorist attacks and used this as a pretext to implement a preconceived pro-Israel and pro-oil plan in the Middle East. This led them to adopt a simplistic response to Islamist terrorism, barging into complex Middle East societies on elephant feet. But in the process, they have only succeeded in making matters worse and in encouraging more hatred against the U.S. and more terrorism.

Indeed, George W. Bush will be remembered above all as the man who launched an illegal and immoral war of aggression against another sovereign nation, on false pretenses and forged documents, destroying in so doing the entire country of Iraq, and damaging perhaps irreparably the U.S. reputation in the world. As Scott McClellan, Bush’s former Press Secretary during seven long years, stated, Bush and his advisers [in launching the Iraq War] “confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candour and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war”.

Bush’s deception and lies about Iraq in order to initiate a war of aggression, an aggression that is a war crime under the Nuremberg standard established by the U.S., are well documented. Thus, historians will have no difficulty in establishing the fact that the United States, under Bush, acted as a lawless international aggressor.

In initiating a war of aggression, Bush did violate the United Nations Charter, which “prohibits the use of military force” against any nation without the specific approval of the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council never approved the American-led military invasion of Iraq. Therefore, Bush and his crew had no international legal basis to invade Iraq. And they cannot pretend that Congress gave them such an authorization, since it is well known in law that no domestic law can override a signed international treaty in good standing.

In a domestic parallel, George W. Bush and his administration have set up what is probably the most widespread war profiteering system in modern history, through which billions and billions of dollars were misappropriated and wasted. At the same time as they were adopting a permanent war posture abroad, they were irresponsibly calling at home for a 674 billion dollar tax cut for their rich supporters and pushing up the deficits, of which a large proportion was financed by borrowing abroad.

Illegality and Immorality

On the legal front, this is an administration that has shamed the United States with its illegal actions, with its deliberate and dishonest lies, with its war crimes, its disregard for international treaties, and with its overt disregard of constitutional government.

On the question of lawlessness, the list of missteps the Bush-Cheney administration took outside of the law is too long for a short article as this one. But there are numerous documents to be consulted and it is possible to attempt a short summary.

From the very beginning, the Bush-Cheney administration has dismissed international law and disregarded domestic law. They began by either repudiating or refusing to honor the United States’ international commitments and obligations, thus showing indifference, if not outright hostility, toward international law. They opted out of five important international treaties and commitments: the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty and the International Criminal Court. In so doing, the United States, under the Bush-Cheney administration, has betrayed its international commitments and has moved away from being a moral state, and more and more toward the status of an international rogue state.

This was all confirmed when the Bush-Cheney administration adopted, in September 2002, the Bush Doctrine of preventive war, an internationally illegal and immoral program. Indeed, under existing international law, no country may attack another under false pretenses, nor use military force unilaterally.

This was followed by the even more dangerous and hairy Cheney Doctrine (or the One Percent Doctrine) which is anti-human rights, anti-rule of law and anti-Constitution, because it posits that if there is even a 1% chance American interests are in jeopardy somewhere in the world, unilateral American military interventions are justified, and this without conclusive evidence or extensive analysis. Such hubristic and shoot-from-the-hip foreign policies are a true recipe for international anarchy and thus render a great disservice to humanity.

Domestically, President George W. Bush has introduced the unconstitutional practice of adding signing statements to new laws, stating that he has the right, as President, to violate any section of a law, should he deem it in the national interest to do so. For example, on January 28, 2008, Bush signed into law the repeal of the “Insurrection Act Rider” in the 2006 defense appropriations bill. That rider had given the President sweeping power to use military troops in ways contrary to the Insurrection Act and Posse Comitatus Act and authorized the president to have troops patrol American streets in response to disasters, epidemics, and any “condition” he might cite. But in signing this repeal, Bush attached a signing statement that he did not feel bound by the repeal, thus opening the possibility he could ignore the law any time he saw fit to do so.

Disrespect for Liberty and the U.S. Constitution

As if this were not enough, there was the attempt by the Bush-Cheney regime to suspend and even permanently abolish the more than eight centuries old right of Habeas Corpus. And when the Supreme Court, in a far-reaching decision on June 12, 2008, rebuked the B-C administration’s argument that it had a right to establish concentration camps on U.S.-run properties around the world and hold prisoners indefinitely with no legal recourse, especially at the Guantánamo Bay detention center, President George W. Bush had the gall to criticize the Supreme Court’s decision while on a trip to Europe.

Then Bush embarked upon a program of domestic spying on Americans never before seen in a democracy. He, indeed, removed most of the safeguards that had been erected to protect citizens from illegal and warrantless spying activities by government, thus making a mockery of the U.S. Constitution. In particular, the Bush-Cheney administration did not respect key parts of the U.S. Constitution, especially the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. It must said, however, that some Bush Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D – MD) have also willfully and enthusiastically collaborated with George W. Bush in enlarging the government’s spying powers over citizens. On his own, however, George W. Bush did his utmost to make permanent the President’s War Powers, thus making sure that the United States could remain on a permanent war path and be in a position to suspend at will basic constitutional rights.

On top of everything, George W. Bush will be remembered as a politician who authorized torture and indefinite detention of prisoners. Indeed, after Bush willfully suspended the rights accorded prisoners of war by the Geneva Conventions, he was, in fact, officially turning the United States into an immoral nation that openly and unashamedly resorts to torture, thus violating basic rules of morality, international law and a host of international treaties adhered to by the United States. In fact, the Geneva Conventions in its article 3 does not only prohibit torture, but also any cruel, inhuman, degrading, and humiliating treatment of a detainee “in all circumstances.” However, it is not only on the issue of torture that the United States under Bush has become an international pariah.

The Bush-Cheney administration has also operated concentration camps in many countries, holding captive tens of thousands of detainees and hiding them from the Red Cross, the body empowered to monitor compliance with the Geneva Conventions. The Bush-Cheney administration has placed itself outside the civilized world and was nearly alone, last May (2008), in trying to undermine a treaty banning cluster bombs, a type of bombs which have killed so many civilians, when 111 countries signed a treaty outlawing these inhuman weapons. On this occasion, the United States, under Bush-Cheney, sided with a handful of weapons makers and users, none of them known as great defenders of human rights and democracy: Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan. The Bush-Cheney administration has truly been a shamelessly immoral administration.

(PART II on Global Research next week)

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at: rodrigue.tremblay@ yahoo.com.

He is the author of the book ‘The New American Empire’.

Visit his blog site at www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.

Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com/

Check Dr. Tremblay’s coming book “The Code for Global Ethics” at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/

Georgia admits dropping cluster bombs, says rights group

September 2, 2008

Human Rights Watch says it has letter acknowledging use of cluster bombs near Russian border tunnel

A Russian armoured vehicle enters the Roki tunnel in South Ossetia

A Russian armoured vehicle enters the Roki tunnel in South Ossetia. Photograph: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Georgia has admitted dropping cluster bombs during its attempt to regain control of its breakaway province of South Ossetia, a human rights group said today.

Human Rights Watch said it had received a letter from the Georgian defence ministry acknowledging the use of M85 cluster bombs near the Roki tunnel that connects South Ossetia with Russia.

Georgia launched its ill-fated campaign to retake South Ossetia last month, prompting Russia to invade Georgia and occupy Georgian territory. Human Rights Watch has accused Russia of using cluster bombs in populated areas in Georgia, killing at least 11 civilians and injuring dozens.

The New York-based group last month called on Russia to immediately stop using cluster bombs, which 100 countries recently agreed to ban.

“Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers that most nations have agreed to outlaw. Russia’s use of this weapon is not only deadly to civilians, but also an insult to international efforts to avoid a global humanitarian disaster of the kind caused by landmines,” Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch, said recently.

The South Ossetia conflict was the first time cluster bombs were deployed since the Lebanon war in 2006, when M85s were used extensively by Israel against Hizbullah.

Cluster munitions, which contain dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions or bomblets, have been condemned because of their capacity to kill and maim civilians. Many do not immediately explode, causing civilian casualties for months or years to come.

In May, 107 nations agreed to a total ban on cluster munitions, but Russia did not take part in the talks. Russia was not part of the Oslo process launched in February 2007 to develop a new international treaty banning cluster munitions.

The convention on cluster munitions agreed in May comprehensively bans the use, production, trade and stockpiling of the weapon. It will be open for signature in Oslo on December 3.


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