Sunday, November 13, 2011

Yep, This Is Where We Are

Slightly more than two months after he was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama secretly ordered a cruise missile attack on Yemen, using cluster bombs, which killed 44 innocent civilians, including 14 women and 21 children, as well as 14 people alleged to be “militants.” It goes without saying that — unless you want Rick Perry to win in 2012 — this act should in no way be seen as marring Obama’s presidency or his character: what’s a couple dozen children blown up as a part of a covert, undeclared air war?


Given how indiscriminate and civilian-threatening these weapons are, more than 100 countries have signed a treaty banning their production and use and compelling compensation to their victims. Needless to say, the U.S. has categorically refused to join the Convention, along with the other biggest stockpilers of these weapons, such as Russia, Israel and China. The Obama administration’s refusal to join the Convention has caused tension and controversy even with its most subservient allies, such as Britian, a signatory to the treaty. The British Parliament had insisted that the U.S. rid itself of all cluster munitions at American bases on British soil, but a WikiLeaks cable revealed that “British and American officials colluded in a plan to hoodwink parliament” through “the use of a loophole to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on British territory.”


The Pentagon claims that newer cluster bombs can be used more safely, but activists have documented that “many modern cluster bombs have far higher failure rates on the field of battle than manufacturers claim.”


According to The Independent, the U.S. is [now] playing the leading role “to torpedo the global ban on cluster bombs” through a “proposal that would permit the use of cluster bombs as long as they were manufactured after 1980 and had a failure rate of less than one per cent.”

  Glenn Greenwald

And why? So we can crow about signing an agreement to outlaw the use of cluster bombs made prior to 1980? And isn’t that precious? In 1980 somebody decided to make a “safer” cluster bomb. Oh wait. That’s “safer to use.”

So it isn’t only massively increased, secret drone attacks in numerous Muslim countries around the world that will be an enduring foreign policy legacy of the Obama presidency. Nor will it be merely the death knell of the War Powers Resolution from his prosecution of the war in Libya even in the face of a Congressional vote against its authorization, nor the continuation and — in some cases expansion — of the most controversial Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies. We will also be ensured of living in a world where the use of cluster bombs continues unabated.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

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