As the Washington Post and Democracy Now report, diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks reveal the United States attempted to dissuade the Afghanistan government from ratifying the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Afghanistan joined at least 61 other countries (though one cable puts the number at 93) in vowing to “destroy their stockpiles and clear the munitions remnants from their territory.”
Cluster bombs are especially heinous because they release many smaller explosives and disperse over such a vast area, they “cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians.” Often some of the smaller munitions fail to detonate, becoming inadvertent landmines.
As this cable details, the United States has not signed the treaty because it believes “cluster munitions continue to have military utility.” Furthermore, the U.S. argues that article 21 of the convention allows for signatories to “continue to cooperate and conduct operations with U.S. forces, and in turn for U.S. forces to store, transfer, and use U.S. cluster munitions in the territory of a State Party,” effectively circumventing the convention entirely. The U.S. continues, suggesting that a “low-profile approach will be the best way to ensure a common understanding that the CCM does not impede military planning and operations between our two governments.”
According to United Press International, near the start of the Libyan war, the United Nations claimed that the use of cluster bombs and other indiscriminate weapons could amount to war crimes.
Al Jazeera has replaced its Director after the release of a WikiLeaked cable that indicates he modified coverage of the Iraq War in response to pressure from the United States.
[This post was first published here at BradleyManning.org.]