You may recall that about six years ago I wrote a brief blog about my disenchantment with the U.S.goverment refusing to joint the global treaty banning land mines.At that point 141 countries had ratified the Ottawa Convention’s land mine prohibition of antipersonnel mines. The Bush administration refused to ratify it because we needed to be able to use them in order to protect our national security.
And now, six years later, more than 150 nations have signed the treaty including most of our NATO allies and even Iraq, Afghanistan and Columbia. Meanwhile,the Obama administration has determined that we would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we signed this convention. We stand proudly with China and Russia as the only major nations to refuse to sign. While we haven’t used them since the 1991 Gulf War, We have a stockpile of more than 10 million land mines.
As a recent editorial in the Jan Jose Mercury News states:
“Land mines caused more than 5000 causalties in 2008, many of them outside current war zones. More than a third of the victims were children. If the United States can support treaties against the use of chemical weapons and other atrocities, surely it can ban devices that keep on killing the innocent years after the war is over.
The notion that our security rests on them now is ludicrous – a distortion of reality unworthy of a president who claims to want to restore U.S. stature in the international community. U.S. officials backtracked a bit on their position last week after humanitarian groups exploded in rage. They now say the policy is “under review.” What’s left to review?”