Practice what we preachEnd the useless violence of cluster bombs

It is ironic that the most advanced countries in the world feel they must resort to terrorism to fight so called “terrorists.” China, Russia, and the United States all chose not to attend a conference on banning cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are munitions that release and scatter many smaller munitions, known as bomblets.120 countries had delegates present. The conference took place in Wellington, New Zealand. Ivan Oelrich, vice president of the Strategic Security Project at the Federation of American Scientists, explains why a ban on cluster bombs is so unlikely: “Cluster bombs are so incredibly effective as weapons; it will be very hard to get countries to keep their militaries from using them.” This brings about a moral question. How many innocent civilians, mothers, daughters, fathers, and sons, are we willing to kill just for the sake of having an “effective weapon?” The bomblets released by cluster bombs are designed to scatter over a large area. These are extremely destructive, which makes sense because they are bombs, but the destruction is not always caused when the bombs are first dropped. Studies show that as many as 40 percent of bomblets fail to go off immediately. These bomblets stay in the ground and act as land mines. They can be active and dangerous for decades after they are dropped. Many times, children are hurt the worst. Kids often play in fields that were cluster bombed in the past, and come across bomblets. The kids see the bomblets as harmless shiny silver balls and pick them up, only to have them explode and seriously injure or kill the children. A recent example of this tragedy is from the Israel and Lebanon war in the summer of 2006. The organizers of the conference to ban cluster bombs stated that the leftover bomblets had killed more than 200 people since the ceasefire. The great battle of the early 21st century is against terrorism. The U.S. Department of defense defines terrorism as “the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.” The current use of cluster bombs fulfills this definition frighteningly well. Cluster bombs are calculated violence that cause fear to civilians. They are meant to coerce the intended victims into goals that are ideological. After all, terrorism is always said to be an ideological war; the idea of anti-Westernism is what we are supposed to be fighting. It is time for a ban to these weapons. Not only do they kill innocent civilians, women and babies, but the idea of cluster bombs in itself hurt our own reputation. This is especially significant in a time when much of the world does not approve of America. It is embarrassing that 120 countries would at least discuss a possible ban, yet America still refuses to join the discussion. Maybe war really is just terrorism with a bigger budget.