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Now that I have your attention, I'd like to talk about something besides the self-inflicted demise of the HRC presidential campaign: CLUSTER BOMBS.

From the Associated Press (Thursday, May 22, 2008):

WASHINGTON - A senior U.S. official said Wednesday that a proposed treaty banning cluster bombs would hurt world security and endanger U.S. military cooperation on humanitarian work with countries that sign the accord.

As someone commenting on the abovementioned article astutely stated: "Down is the new up."
The truth is being stood firmly on its head every day now, whether in the form of presidential candidates behaving like bolsheviks labeling a majority "mensheviks", or in the form of an administration that lies and distorts as a matter of course.
So scroll up (I mean down) and learn about something so terrible, even the Clintons pale in comparison...

Cluster munitions, popularly referred to as cluster bombs consist of air-dropped or ground-deployed munitions that eject and disperse multiple 'bomblets'. The CBU-87 used by the U.S. military, for example, disperses up to 200 such cannistered mini-bombs, each about the size of a soda can. Each cannister packs enough shrapnel to explode over a 25 meter area. The cannisters themselves are released  by the spinning main bomb at an altitude of up to 1000 meters, dispersing over a much wider area.

Representatives from over 100 nations are meeting for two weeks of talks in Dublin Ireland, with the stated goal of globally banning these weapons that maim and kill thousands of civilians. The largest producers of these munitions, the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan will not be attending.

Latest estimates put the number of civilian deaths from cluster bombs at 10,000. At least 60% of casualties are children. - Liz Lynne MEP (UK) - Vice-president, All-Party Disability Intergroup

(from Darfur, Arms and the Developing World, Guardian (UK) article from April 23, 2008)

In Israel’s 2006 war against the Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, the bomblets’ failure rate was around 30 to 40 percent, and the United Nations said up to a million unexploded bomblets were left after hostilities ceased.

(AP article from May 22, 2008)

Stephen Mull, an assistant secretary of state, briefed reporters at the State Department to explain why the United States was not attending a gathering in Ireland of representatives of more than 100 nations working on a treaty to ban the bombs blamed for killing or maiming civilians as their mini-bombs explode months or years after they are dropped...
...Mull, acting assistant secretary for political-military affairs, said a draft of the treaty would criminalize military cooperation with the United States or other countries that have cluster bombs and do not sign the document.

That would hinder humanitarian work of the type the United States is involved in now in Myanmar and China, he said. American warships and planes often are used to respond to earthquakes, typhoons, cyclones and other disasters around the world.

"This would have very grave implications," Mull said. "With one stroke, any country that signs the convention as it is now and ratifies it, in effect would make it impossible for the United States or any of our other allies who rely on these weapons to participate in these humanitarian exercises."

- Ibid.

Translation: If you sign this treaty, we will not help you when the next Hurricane/Earthquake/Tsunami etc. strikes your soil.
(If I were a foreign observer, I might surmise that, based on the abysmal performance of the U.S. Government in response to Hurricane Katrina, their denial of aid might not be a bad thing.)
This is a clear case of extortion. As Human Rights Watch points out, it is not constructive for the U.S. to criticize a ban that is still in the very early stages of negotiation.

There are a lot of countries here trying to solve the problem, [Including many nations that produce cluster bombs] If the United States was really very concerned about it, they’d be here in Dublin standing up for their interests; they’re not. - Mark Hiznay, HRW

- Ibid.

Washington says the weapons have an important military use, although it wants their use regulated. The United States favors U.N.-organized talks in Geneva that seek nonbinding rules for using cluster bombs and cleaning up their consequences.

- Ibid.

Non-binding rules. We all know how those work. If your not sure, contact the White House and ask Dubya about his favorite tool of statecraft, the signing statement.

They were—they are an industrial military weapon, intended for tank and armored formations, not for use in counterinsurgency kinds of conflicts, as they were used in Vietnam and as they’re being used or as they were used in both Afghanistan and Iraq by US forces.

They are meant to cover a very wide area. They are a very imprecise weapon. They have no targeting, no guidance system, so you literally blanket a huge, huge area with these weapons, which is what of course causes—poses the threat to civilians. One single cluster bomb could cover an area the size of three football fields, both endangering people or animals who are out at the time, but then also leaving behind a very large number of dud small bombs, and people stumble across those—farmers, children, anyone—stumble across those submunitions for a very long time to come, endangering them. - Lora Lumpe, Coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines

- Interview with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! May 20, 2008.

There are many ways to take action against the manufacture, sale and deployment of these clumsy, innacurate, and murderous weapons:

href="http://www.stopclusterbombs.org.nz/take-action/petition/

Imagine being a U.S. Marine, your quality of life ruined by a roadside bomb, condemned to a life of missing arms and legs. Now imagine instead that you suffer the same accursed fate, but that you are an eight year old child in Laos, or Lebanon, or Burma, or Afghanistan, or Sierra Leone, or Chad, or Kuwait, or Israel, or Croatia, or Montenegro, or Pakistan, or Ethiopia, or Eritrea, etc. etc.

$4.00/gallon for gasoline kinda pales in comparison, huh?

Originally posted to Cartoon Messiah on Sat May 24, 2008 at 07:38 AM PDT.

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