Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cluster Bombs: We're #1

by Common Dreams

The United States is the largest producer, stockpiler, and user of cluster bombs in the history of the world.

When 111 nations gathered recently to draft a treaty to ban these horrific weapons, the United States was conspicuously absent.

Once again, the President of the United States came down on the wrong side of international peace.

On January 20, 2009, the world will watch with hope as this country inaugurates a new President. A president who has the potential to undo the damage George Bush has done. A president committed to joining the world community in its struggle for a more peaceful future.

So far, the leading presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, have been silent on whether they will endorse this new treaty banning cluster bombs. We need a President who will do the right thing.

Click here to ask all the presidential candidates to commit to sign the global cluster bomb ban.

Cluster bombs are designed to open in mid-air, dispersing hundreds of smaller "bomblets." The resulting blasts kill indiscriminately, spraying over an area roughly the size of three football fields. Approximately 30% of ordnance from each bomb will fail to explode on impact, creating virtual minefields that will kill and maim innocent civilians for decades to come.

A recent example: By a United Nations count, Israel fired 822 cluster bombs at Lebanon in a 2006 conflict, killing thousands. A blanket of 60,000 unexploded bomblets killed more than 200 civilians in the year after the ceasefire. One third of the casualties were children. Cleanup efforts continue to this day in Lebanon with many areas still uninhabitable.

One US commander reportedly refused to use cluster munitions in Iraq, citing mortal danger to his troops. If knowledgeable soldiers are at risk, what will be the fate of an 8-year-old child who, indulging her natural inclination to explore, stumbles upon a small, colorful metal ball in the sand?

Ask the presidential candidates to do the right thing and sign the ban.

The Bush Administration refused to participate in cluster bomb treaty negotiations last month. President Bush has been short-sighted and unilateralist from the beginning. Ignoring the Kyoto Protocol. Refusing to join the international war crimes court. Tearing up the ABM treaty. Trashing the Geneva Conventions. Our next President must begin to rejoin the US with the world community by signing on to the global cluster bomb ban.

Thankfully, the US is about to usher in new leadership just as the rest of the world is saying "NO!" to cluster bombs. The question is: Will the next President do the right thing and join them?

Thanks for taking action. Together, we can change our world!

Matt Reading

Online Organizer
CommonDreams.org

© Copyright 1997-2008 Common Dreams

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