Friday, August 05, 2005

US landmine steps

Some things are just so maddening it is hard even to write about them.

Everyone knows what landmines are: "antipersonnel" weapons (i.e., antipeople weapons) that don't care who you are or what you are doing or when you are doing it. The US stopped making them in 1997--not so long ago, but at least it stopped making them. But in December (no doubt a Bush Administration's homage to The Prince of Peace) the US will decide whether to start making a new landmine called Spider. The Pentagon (well, not really the building itself, but actual people who work in that building) has asked for $1.3 billion (i.e., a million dollars 1300 times) to develop and produce the Intelligent Munitions System, with full production, 2008. (Human Rights Watch). It is a landmine.
“Any future production, trade or use of antipersonnel mines would put the United States squarely at odds with the emerging international consensus against the weapon, and would draw strong criticism from its closest allies,” said [Steve Goose, director of Human Rights Watch's Arms Division].

A total of 145 countries have joined the Mine Ban Treaty and another eight have signed but not yet ratified. This includes every member of NATO, as well as Japan, Australia and other key military allies. With very few exceptions, nearly every nation has endorsed the goal of a global ban on all antipersonnel mines at some point in the future. Even many states not party to the Mine Ban Treaty have stopped production, trade and use of the weapon.

Human Rights Watch said that States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty would have to consider ending any investments they may have in U.S. companies producing or exporting the new antipersonnel mines. States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty cannot “assist” in any way with acts that are prohibited by the treaty.
The US, historically, has been a major contributor to the landmine problem, despite denying it. The Big Lie.
American officials have often claimed that U.S. mines are not a significant factor in the global landmine problem, and it is likely that this argument would be used in part to justify any decision to renew production of antipersonnel mines. However, the U.S. exported over 5.6 million antipersonnel mines to 38 countries between 1969 and 1992. Deminers in at least 29 mine-affected countries have reported the presence of nine different types of U.S.-manufactured antipersonnel mines and four types of antivehicle mines, including both non-self-destructing and self-destructing types.
It's like the famous Supreme Court justice's definition of pornography ("I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it."). I don't know what a "Rogue State" is, but I know one when I see one.