Thursday, May 29, 2008

Embarrassed Again

Apparently Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown has decided he doesn't want to be George Bush's poodle. Yesterday Britain indicated it would approve the draft treaty which would ban the use of cluster bombs, according to the NY Times.

The draft of a treaty to ban cluster munitions was adopted by a group of 111 nations on Wednesday in Dublin after Britain dropped its longstanding opposition to any limitations on the weapons.

The sudden shift by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is under pressure to combat his Labor Party’s declining political fortunes, created fresh pressures on the United States, which had counted Britain as one of its staunchest allies in opposing the ban.

The treaty, hammered out in two weeks of talks in Dublin, had been under negotiation since February 2007. The nations accepting the treaty are scheduled to gather again in Oslo in early December to sign the pact, which would ban the use, production and sale of cluster munitions.

The Bush administration has refused to take part in the treaty negotiations, claiming that this horrific munition is a necessary part of the US arsenal because it saves lives (those of American soldiers and their allies), an argument that insults the intelligence of every human being outside the White House. Here's a list of the company Mr. Bush has chosen to keep on the issue:

... the United States has been joined in its outright opposition to the ban, and in its boycott of the Dublin conference, by a group of military powers that includes China, Russia, Israel, India, Pakistan and Brazil. [Emphasis added]

The US used cluster bombs in 2003 when it invaded Iraq, and supplied Israel with the infernal munition, which it then used against Lebanon. China and Russia clearly fear a cluster bomb gap with the US, and the other three countries apparently enjoy their position in Mr. Bush's back pocket.

Civilized countries, on the other hand, want the cluster bombs banned because of their devastating effect on civilians. Not all of the "bomblets" detonate at once, which means that kids playing with the discovered left-overs have had their hands and legs blown off.

The one bright spot in the negotiations boycotted by the White House is that the US did have an unofficial presence at the conference, one that will no doubt be slimed by BushCo. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) spoke to the conferees in Dublin:

He told the conference that “anyone who has seen the indiscriminate devastation cluster weapons cause across a wide area must recognize the unacceptable threat they pose to civilians.”

He added: “As I have said many times, among the first tasks of our next president will be to reintroduce America to the world. We need to reject the ‘us versus them’ unilateralist approach that has so diminished our image and our leadership.”

Exactly so, Sen. Leahy.

237 days.



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