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Ongoing Communication Fostering Cluster Bomb and Landmine Treaty Bans on March 18,2009 at UN

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  • arn specter
    March 2, 2009 1) US subverts the cluster bomb ban, by Jody Williams,     May 24, 2008 2) A letter to President Barack Obama, USA   The following two pieces
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2009
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      March 2, 2009

      1) US subverts the cluster bomb ban, by Jody Williams,

          May 24, 2008

      2) A letter to President Barack Obama, USA

       

      The following two pieces may be worth studying in order

      to see the absolute need we have here in the United States

      to press upon the minds of the President and members of

      Congress the abysmal position of this country's foreign affairs

      policies in the eys of other nations; the opportunity to right the wrongs committed by the Bush administration in refusing to

      sign on the Cluster Ban and Landmine Treaties and coercing

      other nations to withhold their signatures as well; that the

      eyes of the world will, once again, be focused on the United

      States on March 18, a Wednesday, at the United Nations,

      that building in New York city housing men and women from

      all over the world gathered together working to foster progress

      and peaceful co-existance in the world by many forms and attempts at DISARMAMENT and DIPLOMACY over the

      years only to run into, time and time again, opposition by the

      weak and self-interested policies by a nation now so strongly corrupted by war making, the military industrial complex, that

      it is even still a question whether to sign the agreements or not!

       

      Act, if you will, and help to save the world - men, women and children - from further harm and destruction; like Afghanian

      Soraj Ghulam Habib, a 17 year old from the city of Herat who

      lost both legs when he accidently stepped on an explosive

      cluster remnant seven years ago.  His life and that of his family was changed that day and won't ever return to when he was

      able to walk down the street or play with his friends or hold a regular job and do the usual things a youngster does preparing

      for manhood and creating a responsible place for himself in the culture. 

       

      Now let us take some time and let others who are still able to walk, play and be responsible to assume the mantle of leadership and stand with others representing the United States at that most important and impressive meeting on March 18 and say to the world, 'we're with you now, we want to stop the cluster bomb making, selling, stockpiling, trading, or any part of the dirty war business and help protect as many people as possible from harm

      in the world by working harder with diplomacy, a more powerful and more successful way to foster peaceful co-existance in the world today and in the future, and we're ready to sign those agreements.'

      arn specter, phila.pa.usa

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      US subverts the cluster bomb ban

      By Jody Williams

      May 24, 2008

       

      DUBLIN THE DIPLOMATIC conference to ban cluster munitions - bomb canisters that open and spew hundreds or thousands of bomblets that harm both civilians and soldiers

      - is being held in Dublin. The United States is not participating

      in the deliberations but it is making its presence painfully known.

       

      In the 1997 treaty that banned land mines, the United States was no friend either. The difference is that the United States was openly and actively involved before, until it walked out on the last day, after being unable to force acceptance of its "negotiating package," which would have gutted that treaty.

       

      For too many years, multilateral negotiations - unless related to free trade - have seemed to be anathema to the United States. This time, rather than risk open opposition as it had with the land mine treaty, the United States opted for strong and unrelenting pressure behind the scenes of the cluster treaty negotiations.

       

      The United States is making no secret of its pressure on allies to weaken the treaty to serve its own interests. One official recently bragged that the United States had "spoken with" more than 110 countries about this treaty. It has told allies that it will not alter its military doctrine, structure, or deployments. It has also threatened that it will not remove its cluster munitions stockpiled in countries that do join the treaty - even though it did remove land mines stockpiled in countries that are part of the Mine Ban Treaty.

       

      Much of the US pressure has been to get allies to either remove

      or seriously weaken a key provision in the draft treaty that prohibits governments from "assisting, inducing, or encouraging" states that do not join the treaty with any act that is prohibited by the treaty. As Tim Shipman wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald, "An official from the US State Department warned that under the treaty, British frontline troops who call in artillery support or air strikes [in Afghanistan or Iraq] from an American war plane, all of which carry cluster munitions, could be hauled into court."

       

      In military jargon, such exaggeration could be called "firing for effect." The US official's warning is not accurate. Mere participation in operations where a US plane might carry cluster munitions is not prohibited, it is only deliberately calling in air strikes to use those cluster munitions that would be.

       

      Many weapons treaties prohibit such assistance, including the Mine Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Additionally, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty include similar provisions. The United States is party to most of those treaties. Its efforts in Dublin are really about undermining the treaty itself.

       

      US allegations that the cluster ban treaty would undermine NATO are another obfuscation. The ban on land mines has not affected NATO. Belgium, which unilaterally banned cluster munitions in 2006, said its ban has in no way affected participation in NATO operations. In fact, a government official in Dublin told me a recently completed internal NATO study found that joint operations would not be affected by NATO members signing a cluster munitions treaty with the prohibition on assistance intact.

      If the United States wants to try to weaken the future cluster munitions ban treaty it should do its own dirty work and not hide behind its allies.

       

      One commander in the invasion of Baghdad in 2003 refused to order his men to use clusters. He recognized not only that it was unlawful to fire indiscriminate weapons into densely populated civilian areas, but also that he would put his own troops at risk as they later had to move through those clusters. In fact, the United States has not used cluster munitions in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, nor in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2002.

       

      Banning cluster munitions is not antimilitary, it is pro-humanity. Banning cluster munitions protects civilians and US soldiers.

      The United States should stop bullying its allies and join in the work to ban cluster munitions now.

       

      Jody Williams was the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines for which she and the ICBL received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. She is also the founding chair of the Nobel Women's Initiative.

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      www.Whitehouse.gov(send e-mail from website)
      February 28, 2009
      President Barack Obama and Staff,
      Greetings.  I wish to call to your attention the upcoming international
      meeting in New York at the United Nations of the signing and ratification
      of the International Landmine and Cluster Munitions Treaties, which many
      people in the U.S. want the country to join, along with at least 95 other nations...
      The meeting will be held on MARCH 18,2009. 
       
      Some of us have already lobbied you and Congress to
      1) make a more comprehensive law prohibiting landmines and cluster munitions
         in their various aspects and
      2) joining other nations cooperating strongly for disarmament by eliminating
      these lethal weapons, both stopping production and destroying stockpiles,
      banning sales , trade and use as well.  The recent carnage in Israel/Gaza showed
      us, once again, the horrible affects of dropping or firing these munitions as over
      1300 men, women and children were killed and many injured, some for life. 
      Since your election many activists have questioned whether you will reverse your predecessor's policy of avoiding joining the international community and signing
      the trreaties.  Mr. President, you voted in favor of limiting the use of cluster
      munitions, and for this we applaud you.
      In December of 2008 the United States was absent while nearly 100 nations were gathered in Oslo, Norway for the signing of the Cluster Bomb Ban Agreement. 
      A spokesman for your transition team said, "the new administration would carefully review the new treaty and work closely with our friends and allies to ensure that the U.S. is doing everything feasible to promote protection of civilians."
      We now have 18 days before the next signing opportunity for all those nations
      who now understand that the road to peace in the world is through the paths of disarmament and diplomacy.  The U.S. now is burdoned with a troubled legacy
      and tarnished reputation in the world. We now have a chance to shine up that tarnished image. 
       
       I urge you to consider seriously taking a bold step foward, over-riding concerns
      of the military industrial complex and some members in Congress and special interests, and fulfill your intent to join in and cooperate with other nations in
      protecting civilians; men, women and children worldwide and SIGN ONTO THE BAN AGAINST LANDMINES AND CLUSTER MUNITIONS IN NEW YORK, UNITED NATIONS ON MARCH 18, 2009.
      I thank you for your consideration in this most pressing and important matter,
      for the sake of a reduced military presence and violence in the world, of our
      future.
      arn specter, phila.


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