Cluster bomb treaty

| May 30, 2008

According to the Associated Press, 111 nations have pledged to abide by a measure that bans cluster bombs from warfare. The AP article headline reads “111 nations adopt cluster bomb treaty, but not US“.  Reading down further in the article, one finds that the US isn’t the only nation who didn’t sign it;

Twelve days of negotiations ended after diplomats from scores of nations delivered speeches embracing the accord. It requires signatories not to use cluster bombs, to destroy existing stockpiles within eight years, and to fund programs that clear old battlefields of dud bombs.

However, the talks did not involve the biggest makers and users of cluster bombs: the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan. And the pact leaves the door open for new types that could pick targets more precisely and contain self-destruct technology.

In other words, the 111 nations that approved the treaty probably don’t even have an Air Force that they can use to deliver the munitions. It’s like non-smokers regulating smoking.

They hope to discourage other nations from using them using some sort of international peer pressure;

Norwegian Deputy Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide, whose nation launched the negotiations in February 2007, said he was confident that the treaty would discourage the United States, Russia, China, Israel and other proponents of cluster bombs to use the weapons again.

“The reality is that states do care about not only the legality of their actions, but also the perceived legitimacy and appropriateness of their actions,” he said.

The United States has used the cluster bombs sparingly and only against armies in the field, however the nations who are lucky enough to live under the umbrella of the protection of US military want to distance themselves from the application of US military might. But cluster bombs save US troop’s lives. That might not seem like a big deal to some linguine-spined diplomat from Norway.

I drove my Bradley over a cluster bomblet after the Gulf War – it took a week for my driver to get over the shakes.

Category: Foreign Policy, Support the troops, Terror War

Comments (2)

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  1. This is such a charade. If the US and Israel signed this stupid thing and the Russians and Chinese refused to sign, we’d never hear another word about these cluster bombs again. We know what this is all about.

  2. XBradTC says:

    I wouldn’t say we used them sparingly in the past. In the first Gulf War, CBU’s were second only to Mk-82s in the numbers dropped. Of course, they were dropped mostly in the desert against area targets.One of the problems was the high dud rate. If 95% of the bomblets in a Rockeye go off that leaves 5%. With 297 bomblets in a CBU, that leaves 14-15 bomblets laying around. It is a real problem, because we ended up transiting or occupying many of these areas. The UXO was a real threat. I know of one instance personally where two of our soldiers were badly wounded by a bomblet that they accidently set off.

    CBUs aren’t the only weapons with this issue. Artillery made copious use of DPICM, which is essentially the same thing as a CBU and MLRS and ATCMS missle systems are armed with bomblets as well. Hell, there’s even a bomblet version of the 70mm Hydra rocket.

    Having said that, I would guess that the suspicion is right that only targets are signing this treaty, not potential users. Why should we sign away the ability to use a very effective (and relatively cheap) weapon. It isn’t like we are dropping these in the center of a market.