The New York Times has an article today (9/5/13) about a Human Rights Watch reportcharging Syria’s government with the use of cluster bombs, a “widely prohibited weapon.” Cluster bombs are munitions that release hundreds of miniature explosives; as the Times‘Rick Gladstone writes, “Each bomblet detonates on impact, spraying shrapnel in all directions and killing, maiming and destroying indiscriminately.”
These are not the bad kind of cluster bomb, because they are dropped on and not by official enemies. (Photo: US Air Force)
Gladstone quotes a Human Rights Watch spokesperson calling cluster bombs “insidious weapons that remain on the ground, causing death and destruction for decades.” The reporter goes on to cite the Cluster Munitions Coalition peace group on the deadly effects of these weapons:
The coalition said that children make up one-third of all casualties caused by cluster munitions. It said 60 percent of the total casualties caused by the weapons are civilians going about normal activities.
There’s a Convention on Cluster Munitions signed by 112 countries who have agreed not to use or possess these weapons. Who wouldn’t agree to such a thing? Well, aside from Syria, the article does mention:
There are 85 countries that have not signed the convention, including three permanent members of the Security Council–China, Russia and the United States. Most countries in the Middle East have not signed, including Syria, Israel and Jordan.
Huh–so the country that the New York Times is based in, where most of its readers live, is one of the countries that refuses to sign the treaty banning these horrific weapons? Maybe that’s worth a mention before the eighth of 11 paragraphs.
In fact, readers might be interested to know that not only does the U.S. not ban cluster bombs, it actually uses them–they’ve been used by US forces in Serbia, Afghanistan andIraq, with the most recent target being Yemen. As the Human Rights Watch report notes in a portion not quoted by the Times:
The last reported US use of a cluster munition was in Yemen on December 17, 2009, when one or more TLAM-D cruise missiles loaded with BLU-97 bomblets struck the hamlet of al-Majala in southern Abyan province, causing more than 40 civilian casualties.
But that’s the strange thing about cluster bombs: When they’re used by official enemies, they’re weapons of indiscriminate terror (FAIR Blog, 4/16/11, 1/2/13). When they’re used by the United States, they’re not much worth talking about.