I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the headline: U.S. Won’t Join Landmine Ban, Administration Decides. Can you? Our “Mr. Nice-Guy” President, shaking hands with the Chinese, Mr. Diplomacy chooses to go rogue from NATO. We are the ONLY country among the 28 in the alliance who did not sign this. 156 nations have signed this ban, and folks, that’s right, we are NOT one of them. Not surprisingly, neither are Russia or China. Hmm, interesting.
Ian Kelly, State Department spokesperson let us all know to have no fear, though, because “We made our policy review and we determined that we would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we sign this convention.” Well, that’s comforting, isn’t it? Let me just recap this policy for ya.
The new U.S. landmine policy as of February 27, 2004 can be summarized as follows:
*Eliminate all persistent landmines from its arsenal
*Continue to develop non-persistent (self-destructing/self-deactivating) landmines that will not pose a humanitarian threat after use in battle
*Continue to research and develop enhancements to the current self-destructing/self-deactivating landmine technology in order to develop and preserve military capabilities that address the United States transformational goals
*Seek a worldwide ban on the sale or export of all persistent landmines
*Get rid of its non-detectable mines within one year
*Only employ persistent anti-vehicle mines outside of Korea between now and 2010, if needed, when authorized by the President
*Not use any persistent landmines — neither anti-personnel nor anti-vehicle — anywhere after 2010
*Begin the destruction within two years of those persistent landmines not needed for the protection of Korea
*Seek a 50 percent increase in the U.S. Department of State’s portion of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program over Fiscal Year 2003 baseline levels to $70 million a year
Well, isn’t that just FULL of sunshine, roses and humanitarianism??? This policy uses clever wording. “Persistent” landmines vs. “non-persistent” makes all the difference, doesn’t it? Because self-destructing and self-deactivating mines are much better, right? They pose no humanitarian threat, right? First of all, this terminology is a bunch of rhetoric bulls***. They’re called Anti-personnel mines. Landmines are landmines. Just because they’re self-destructing doesn’t make them okay, and here’s why:
The time when the mines are armed and when they self-destruct or fully self-deactivate can be as long as NINETEEN WEEKS. And let’s face it, technology isn’t perfect. Mines can be damaged during delivery, 2-5% of self-destruct mechanisms fail, and up to 10% of the mines fail to arm properly. This means that a part of these U.S. mines would always remain intact on the surface of the ground without any indication whether the mine is live or not. Since aircraft or artillery remotely deliver these mines in large numbers, they are not required to be marked, fenced, or monitored to exclude civilians. From a deminer’s perspective, all mines encountered must be treated as though they are live. As such, the same procedures that are used to clear live mines are used to clear self-destructing and self-deactivating ones. And any assurances that Mr. Kelly or anyone else makes as to the reliability of these types of mines are inconsistent with the cautions outlined in our Army field manuals. Suffice it to say that no mine is a safe mine.
So you may be wondering why we would choose NOT to sign such an unprecedented movement with regard to human rights. Well, folks, it’s all about the Benjamins, right? That, and the POWER. According to a 2004 report, the U.S. stockpiles 10.4 million antipersonnel mines and 7.5 million antivehicle mines making it the world’s third largest