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Australia's defence forces to use cluster bombs

A report (1) yesterday confirmed that the Australian Defence Forces will be purchasing and using Cluster bombs: no surprise, given the militaristic, war mongering government (2)we have in Oz today, but outrageous! And how dare the gutless wonders in the Parliament claim it is for 'our' soldiers benefit in war! (that's all they need - something else like land mines to haggle their consciences when the maiming continues years after conflict officially ends. And since when has this government given a damn for soldiers welfare.

Ironically the purchasing moves come at the same time as the public airing of the report of the inquiry into Democrats Senator Lyn Allison's introduction of a bill to ban the purchase and use by Australia of cluster bombs. This inquiry has been subject to particularly intense lobbying by Israel Military Industries and the ADF who was already in the process of aquiring these indiscriminate munitions. The use of cluster bombs has bipartisan backing as the Labor "Opposition" is supporting this move - apparently so our soldiers are not at a 'disadvantage' against enemy forces they come across.If modern wars had ever been about battles between equals perhaps this would be a point to consider.But it is a furphy : the modern wars the imperialist nations engage in are asymmetrical wars between materially well resourced, though small in human number, armies and insurgent forces often with huge popular support, and limited material resources.

In contrast to the Australian decision to further contribute to human suffering, a week ago 24/05/2007 on ABC radio Australia, there was mention of an international conference being held in Lima Peru, seeking a global treaty to ban cluster bombs. 70 Nations were reportedly represented.

I'm wondering if the 70 nations pursuing the treaty are exclusively nations of the 'south' : given the vehement opposition of the United States, China and Russia to the ban of cluster bombs.Why ? - these countries are the greatest producers ( = profiteers) from this unique form of late 20th century mass child murderer. A detailed report on the conference in Lima which outlines the politics behind the move confirms that the nations seeking the bans are predominately from the poor 'south'.To quote from this Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency Report "According to Handicap International, 400 million people live in affected areas where they are at risk from unexploded cluster bomblets, and 98 percent of victims are civilians, many of whom are children, who sometimes mistake the bomblets for toys." The Medical Association for the Prevention of War presents compelling information for the banning of all cluster bombs, 'smart' or otherwise.

Cluster bombs may be air dropped or ground launched. They are a 'cluster' of bombs in a cannister which disperse mid-air into hundreds of smaller "bombs" - their promoters like the term "bomblets" which is way too innocuous sounding for the murder and mayhem they wreak. The unexploded munitions - the size only of your average softdrink can - are very interesting for the curious children who are too often the victims of their deadly force.

A positive move from Latin America
seeking to become the world's first "Cluster Bomb Free Zone" as the Lima conference seeks to support the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), made up of 200 organisations pushing for a total ban on Cluster bombs. (Not an easy goal given that Argentina and Brazil are amongst the 25 nations producing these munitions). And surprise! some nations are looking for a 'third way' - led by the UK and Japan these countries want discussion contained in the context of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW): a delaying tactic. Also the CCW has no member nations with populations affected by the use of cluster bombs - they are all weapons producing or using nations.

And great Shame! on Argentina, Australia, Finland and Poland who are leading the discussions to exempt "cluster bombs with self destruct mechanisms" or so called 'smart bombs' - despite these mechanisms having been shown to fail in the recent imperialist wars against Iraq and Lebanon.There ain't no such thing as a good cluster bomb, or a smart cluster bomb.95% of the casualties of these bombs are civilian children.Now this may be acceptable to the soldiers who 'take out their target' - in this case those advocating the use of the bombs are talking about disabling /killing the occupants of armored protected enemy combatant transport. But I repeat - the Cluster Munition Coalitionreport that 95% of the casualties of these bombs are civilian children.In fighting these asymmetrical wars and trying to suppress the overwhelming will of the people the invading forces will not win. As former British commander General Sir Michael Rose said today: The only solution is to get out. That is the only solution that makes sense for the 21st century.

(1)from post by S Bolton "The online version of The Age article. However the paper copy of The Age had an extra two paragraphs which aren’t in the online article, which state that the Labor senators support the Australian Defence Force getting cluster bombs. In the paper copy, the extra two paragraphs follow on from the last paragraph of the online version:“Labor senators rejected the Democrats’ bill because they considered its definition of cluster bombs too ‘nebulous’ and it would make it hard for the ADF to purchase weapons it needed, said Senator Mark Bishop. He said under the bill, Australian soldiers could not be trained in how to defuse the bombs.The committee includes Liberal Senators Marise Payne and Russell Trood, Nationals Senator Sandy Macdonald and Labor Senators John Hogg and Mark Bishop
(2).John Howard's mishandling of the 2003 "Iraq Crisis" and secretive involvement in the invasion in 2003 committed Australian troops to the war without ever consulting the Australian Parliament, and also led to the biggest ever anti-war public protests that this country has ever seen.

1 Com:

skywalker | June 03, 2007

Yet another sad day for Australia. I encourage everyone to protest. How many civilians will our politicians kill with these weapons? World peace is possible even today - yet our leaders want the world in pieces!

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