Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Waging War On The Innocent

The following excerpt also comes from Dana Perino’s press conference today (in addition to the excerpt noted earlier from here)…

MS. PERINO: Helen, did you have a question?

Q Yes. Is the President going to sign the anti-cluster bomb treaty? Apparently this is --

MS. PERINO: Right, this is a treaty that was passed out of the U.N. Security Council several months ago. We said then that, no, we would not be signing on to it. And so I think that the signing is actually -- we did not participate in the passage of it, and therefore we're not going to sign it either.

Q Why not?

MS. PERINO: What I have forgotten is all the reasons why, and so I'll get it for you. (Laughter.)
Two immediate observations…one, I’m sure the person speaking to Perino is Helen Thomas, because this is actually a good question, as opposed to someone in the press corps leading Perino into an excuse to expound on a White House-approved talking point; two, I can’t imagine the cynicism and ignorance that would compel anyone to laugh concerning the topic of cluster bombs, and hopefully I never will.

This BBC News story tells us…

As he opened the signing convention in Oslo, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the treaty would make the world safer, but had been too long in coming.

"Too many people lost their lives and their limbs; too many futures were shattered," he said.

"The tragedy of their needless suffering is matched only by our joy today in being able to prevent more human misery in the future."

Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Red Cross, reminded the meeting of the deadly legacy of cluster bombs.

"The path to Oslo is also traced through the mountains and the rice paddies of south-east Asia where several hundred million sub-munitions were dropped and many tens of millions remain today," he said.

"This path runs through the lives of civilians in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam who have lived with the threat of unexploded sub-munitions for four decades."
As noted from Democracy Now here, according to the group Handicap International, 98 percent of cluster bomb victims are civilians, and 27 percent are children (the BBC story basically says that we’re working on “smarter” cluster bombs, though I have yet to hear a good explanation for why we should have cluster bombs at all; is it a coincidence that the three countries who refuse to ban them – us, China and Russia –are not likely to be victimized by them? At least we’ve agree to provide “clearance” in countries where these monstrous devices are located, which is something I guess).

Returning to the BBC story…

Jody Williams, an anti-landmine campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the US had "essentially obeyed" all the elements of the treaty and she hoped US President-elect Barack Obama would sign it.

"Mr. Obama tells us to look for hope and change," she told Reuters news agency. "I like hope and change, but I want to see him sign it."
So do I.

Update: More from Think Progress here...

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