Any human rights activist or soldier can tell you why cluster bombs should be banned, as only too often they fail to hit their intended target, end up hitting civilians, or even their own soldiers, as was the case with Israeli-made cluster bombs used in the 2008 Georgian-Russian military conflict.
Many of the Georgians, including Georgian soldiers, who died were killed by friendly-fire, according to those, as referenced herein, and who were among the first to investigate the impact of cluster bombs in the conflict zone, mostly in civilian areas (villages).
There are many reasons as why cluster bombs should be banned or only used as a weapon of last resort, as they are often used out of sheer madness or in total desperation, and more often than not on the political field of battle. What is left, after this, Tactical nukes or biological/chemical would be all that’s left!?
The very nature of their indiscriminate effects is insidious; they cannot be targeted well, when dropped they blanket a large target zone and when buttressed with a high failure rate, also known as duds, means they do not detonate as intended upon impact.
This carries moral hazards and political fallout for those countries that want to use them, as has already been the case for the United States and Joe Biden, and the reasons given are highly-suspect.
Not a solution!
Moral and ethical concerns should be a primary consideration for policymakers when addressing the use of cluster bombs. These concerns revolve around protecting civilian lives, minimizing property damage, and maintaining a positive international reputation. This commentary and news summary aims to remain impartial and does not take sides regarding the specific use of cluster bombs in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
Instead, it focuses on the broader human rights issue related to the use of cluster bombs. The intention is to highlight the known consequences and risks associated with the use of cluster bombs in any conflict, emphasizing the pressing need to address this issue to prevent unintended and devastating consequences.
You can understand how desperate the United States must be getting, especially when it comes from the mouth of Retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the for-hire warmonger, and Trump basher, who recently said that that President Biden “did the right thing” in agreeing to send cluster munitions to Ukraine.
It is hoped that Ukraine will realize that they will be using these on their own claimed territory, and many, by the very nature, will be falling on its own citizens, regardless of language or their ethnic identity.
However, we all should really feel relieved, as Vindman claims that “They’re going to take responsibility for their territory … It’s being deployed on their territory — they’re going to be careful with them.” And we know it is a really bad decision when former key advisor to Donald Trump, infamous war hawk, John Bolton, closes ranks and says “The Biden decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine is an excellent idea.”
Regardless of the fail rate, three percent (3) vs. thirty percent (30), depending on the source, (it is as if a higher rate makes them better for the moral hazard), unexploded mini-canisters act as ticking time bombs, to be picked up by children or will explode because of agricultural activity or just go off with changes in the weather – which can be years in the future, or explode when a cow or human steps on them.
Regardless of how cluster bombs are delivered, by launch tubes or airdropped bombs that open up as they fall, they are notoriously inaccurate anti-personnel weapons and have been especially designed to cause the maximum number of casualties—and they do not discriminate based on age, which side of the conflict a person is, and/or his or her political orientation.
Call for Fire!
The problem is that the decision to use them is out of desperation, “playing with fire”. It is becoming clear that the US and some of its NATO allies cannot provide artillery pieces and shells at the rate that is needed to replace what is being destroyed or fired each day by Ukraine, or are willing to keep up with the supply.
Logistical supply chains are breaking down, shipments on the territory of Ukraine are often destroyed before reaching where they need to be deployed, and the US has not many conventional shells and other weaponry left in stock other than shells that have been warehoused so long that the effectiveness of them is questionable, and knowing just how many will be duds, as most of the shells contain cluster bombs.
It is debatable how effective will they be once they are used under actual battlefield conditions. Biden and his team know this too!
The justification for Biden’s decision is a tell-tale sign of the reality on the ground, as the headline in Business Insider reads, Biden said he decided to send Ukraine controversial cluster bombs because Kyiv is ‘running out of ammunition’ – so the real fault of the “intended or unintended” consequences rest with Biden and his close advisors.
Such a decision is a stop gap measure in light of the US and NATO division over such a measure. It is worth noting that former chief of general staff for the British Army, Lord Dannatt said that Biden’s move, that he claims is not appreciated by all NATO members, showing greater divisions among the ranks, and that has the potential to “fracture NATO harmony, as many NATO members have banned them.”
They are not impressed that Biden claims, with deep reflection and soul-searching [as if he had one]; it was sold to the devil long ago, tongue in cheek, how it “took him a while “to be convinced” to send cluster bombs, but he ultimately decided Ukraine “needed them.” Biden should understand that this is more than just an exploding device – but a politically splintering piece of ordnance that will have far-reaching repressions, and may up-the-ante with a response in equal or greater measure.
Vilnius NATO summit
If I would have been a fly on the wall during the recent Vilnius NATO summit, where such a bilateral decision was pushed by Biden and his minions, and without the full agreement of other member countries, I am sure that fly would not have make it out of the room alive.
Such unpopular decisions divide an already divided alliance all the more, posing a greater threat to NATO from the schism from within than any perceived enemy. Kyiv is not only running out of ammunition but fresh troops, cannon fodder and some go as far as to claim many of those being sent to the front with the full knowledge that they will die for nothing.
Such a statement, if true, may be the real reason why this decision was reached and now, as if put to the vote, NATO may not agree to the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions—and it would be political suicide to take such a position for the widespread deployment of cluster bombs in peace and human rights loving Europe.
Europeans fully understand that the use of cluster bombs will provide the use in reaction, and perhaps even to a punitive degree, by the Russian side.
As now, it comes down to the old adage of “what is good for the goose is good for the gander”, as with the use of grape shot. To announce the deployment of these weapons at this moment when so many other NATO countries have banned them runs the risk of fracturing NATO harmony beyond repair.
What comes next?
The manner in which Biden’s decision is being reported by BBCWorld Service raises interest as unease grows over the potential use of cluster bombs in Ukraine, with disagreement among countries. The UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Spain have all expressed opposition to the use of these weapons. It is important to note that over 100 countries have banned cluster bombs due to the threat they pose to civilians, but Ukraine, Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia are among the few countries that have not signed the treaty prohibiting them.
Human rights groups, as reported by the BBC and other news outlets, consider cluster munitions “abhorrent” and even a war crime. These weapons are indiscriminate and banned in many parts of the world for valid reasons.
One possible reason for Biden’s haste in providing these weapons could be to escalate the conflict in Ukraine and provoke a strong reaction from Russia, ultimately expanding the conflict with both willing and unwilling partners. This strategy is similar to the concept of reciprocity in torture, where soldiers are taught that if they torture the enemy, they can expect the same treatment if captured. Hopefully, Biden’s provision of weapons to Ukraine is merely a negotiation tactic, as their actual use would have severe consequences and further divide supporters of Ukraine who are already questioning the proxy war project.
Any deployment of cluster munitions would contradict the stance of human rights organizations against their manufacture, storage, and use, as they are deemed too dangerous, unreliable, and politically problematic. Either the US is desperate enough to send nearly banned ordnance to Ukraine, disregarding the majority’s stance, or this is a lame negotiation ploy and temporary measure to avoid supplying the weapons Ukraine truly needs.
However, the current counteroffensive in Ukraine highlights the shortcomings and the collective failure to meet necessary requirements, demonstrating that good intentions alone are insufficient against a well-entrenched, trained, and supplied adversary as the Russian military.
Carpet bombing entire areas is not a solution, and could provoke the Russians to change their approach. But rather, this would further reduce NATO’s and Ukraine’s options for either defensive or offensive operations.
It is important to highlight that a significant percentage of cluster bombs, ranging from 3 to 30 percent, (depending on your source) do not detonate upon initial impact. This situation can result in vast areas of land being contaminated for years, resembling exclusion zones like the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster. Even today, cluster bombs from the 1960s continue to explode in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. It is crucial to avoid transforming one of the world’s wealthiest agricultural regions into a no-go zone for both civilians and livestock alike.
Lame Justification or exit door?
Again, looking at the decision in light of the bigger scheme of things, how it is being reported is most revealing as what Biden is [actually] admitting to—the inability to maintain a clear policy or continuity of supply of more traditional weapons.
Even CNN reports demonstrate to what is coming together, “Now the US defended its decision to provide these cluster munitions to Ukraine, saying that it will be necessary in order to maintain Ukraine’s ammunition stockpiles as it continues to prosecute its counteroffensive against Russia, which basically admits to its failure.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that without tapping into the stockpile of US cluster munitions, Ukraine could run out of ammunition this year, [as if it is not already running out] … and it is not a scenario that the US wants to where Ukraine runs out of artillery ammunition, and given that it is so key in the war that they are fighting against Russia.
Now, the US is aware that allies had concern about this. And considering that many of them have banned these munitions because they potentially pose a risk to civilians, a long-term risk because of the little bomblets that these cluster munitions detonate, they actually fail to explode when they hit the ground.
As described already, they are ticking time bombs, and very much similar to the danger posed by landmines. But the US says [claims] that the munitions that they will be providing to Ukraine will have a dud rate less than 3 percent, and how the US will not target civilians areas, and these munitions will be used by Ukraine to defend its own territory.”
Such CNN and spokesperson rhetoric may not even be convincing for the most staunch Russia bashers, as they know better, and we know better, and it is better to trust human rights and industry experts as to dud rates, and how they are actually delivered, as we learned from Human Rights Watch when the Georgians bombed seven of their own villages in the 2008 Georgian Russian war, and the attempt to blame those causalities on the Russians, and even claimed the unexploded cluster munitions found had been picked up and transported to the affected zones by the Russians from other parts of the war zone.
Such a feat would have really been an example of a false flag, and carried up with great skill, as many were found hanging in fruit trees, from the ribbons that are used to slow their descent. It is a relief to know that the US has tried “to reassure allies behind the scenes that this is what Ukraine needs right now. And according to Jake Sullivan, US allies have embraced that argument with open arms.
Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, is a former U.S. senator from Vermont. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Oregon who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee have stated that “by supplying Kyiv with cluster munitions would come at an unsupportable moral and political price. Knowing that these weapons cause indiscriminate terror and mayhem, both of us — like many others in the international community — have worked for years to end their use.”
It is interesting to note that for these reasons, a total of 123 countries, including 23 out of 31 NATO members, have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use and transfer of these weapons.
So it seems that only the US can decide the overall policy of NATO and countries that are closest to the conflict zone, and it goes beyond looking for excuses but putting your friends and allies at greater risks by introducing a much hated weapon into a conflict zone that will be meet with an equal or great reaction.
It is also worth considering how, from the proverbial moral high ground, how sending cluster munitions to Ukraine would not only reverse decades of U.S. policy and practice. It would also kill more civilians and exacerbate the very problem that the West is seeking to address when it spends millions of dollars for ordnance clearance—a bit of a cottage industry.
Biden is sending a clear message
Could it be, in spite of statements otherwise, that the provision of cluster bombs is a last ditch ploy to get the Ukrainians to negotiate, officially or through alternative channels, [as if] Biden is sending a clear message?
“Don’t expect much more, your much touted offensive is failing, what happened to all the weapons we already sent you, the profits, and now you don’t have the troops, your population is dwindling, fleeing to Europe and beyond, including members of your government and armed forces, the ratline of logistical support is too far stretched, and your“out-of- control” endemic corruption is becoming an embarrassment, even for me, and I should know what can taint one’s reputation, even for the First Family.”
And who is going to finance my election and the political campaigns of others, fellow travelers, in the Democratic Party [if and when Ukraine] is a failed project?”