Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, May 19, 2008

The gift that keeps on giving

Back in November, Gordon Brown won considerable praise for his commitment to working for a global ban on cluster bombs. The praise dried up a bit when shortly afterwards the Ministry of Defence defined cluster bombs as containing ten or more bomblets. The most widely-used British cluster bomb, the M73, happens to contain nine. Well strike me pink. (Or if I happened to chance upon a leftover M73 bomblet, pink and splashy.)

So now a hundred or so countries are meeting in Dublin to try to thrash out just such an international ban as Gordon pretended to care about, and Britain is generally perceived to be the main obstacle to such an agreement. We insist on keeping our cluster bombs because the manufacturers say they self-destruct. The American forces who had to avoid their lethal remnants in Iraq, and the civilians killed in Lebanon long after the Israeli cluster-bomb attacks had ceased, might beg to differ.

Watch this video, and imagine life without a leg.

40% of the victims of cluster ordnance are children, usually long after the war that brought them has ended. While the threat to civilians from landmines, for example in Cambodia, is well-known, spare a thought for its next-door neighbour Laos. Fewer mines, but the world's worst unexploded bomb problem.

Wouldn't it be good if this timeline could be finished off with a ban in 2008?

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