Cluster Bombs Have Got To Go

05/31/2007 12:53 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The time has come for a vigorous public propaganda campaign in the United States against cluster bombs. These weapons need to be thoroughly discredited and delegitimized. Friends don't let friends drive drunk, and they don't let their friends' tax dollars be used to supply weapons that blow off the limbs of little girls in Lebanon or Iraq, either. 98% of the victims of cluster bombs are civilians, according to a report by Handicap International.

When the international campaign to ban land mines began, land mines were regarded as a legitimate weapon of warfare. Now they are thoroughly discredited. This is what needs to happen to cluster bombs.

As a matter of logic, it's a no-brainer. An unexploded cluster bomb is essentially a land mine. The fact that cluster bombs are not yet banned is in effect a loophole in the land mine treaty.

Internationally, the movement to ban cluster bombs is gathering steam. Peru has proposed to make Latin America the world's first cluster bomb-free region. Sixty-eight countries are involved in negotiations to establish a treaty to ban cluster bombs. Norway and Belgium have targeted cluster bomb manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, and banks that provide financing to these companies, such as Credit Suisse First Boston, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, and Barclays.

It's a fact of the universe that the campaign in the U.S. against is going to lag behind the international campaign, given that the U.S. is a major producer, user, and exporter of these weapons. On the other hand, given that the U.S. is going to be a major obstacle to the international campaign, even small progress in creating and advancing the public and Congressional debate about these weapons will significantly help advance the international campaign, by weakening the monolithic opposition of the U.S. to a ban. And of course, any progress in restricting the U.S. production, use, and transfer of these weapons is worthy in its own right.

Last September, Senator Feinstein introduced an amendment to restrict the use and transfer of cluster bombs. The amendment was defeated 30-70, with all Republicans, and such Democrats as Clinton, Dodd, and Biden, voting no.

This year, Feinstein re-introduced her amendment as a freestanding bill, S.594. Feinstein's bill currently has eight co-sponsors: Leahy, Sanders, Mikulski, Kennedy, Cantwell, Brown, Feingold, and Harkin.

Representative McGovern has introduced companion legislation in the House, H.R.1755. McGovern's bill currently has 5 co-sponsors: McCollum, Issa, Clay, Kucinich, and Ellison. This is an absurdly low number. For the House to catch up with the Senate, this bill should have thirty-eight co-sponsors. And it will, as soon as Members of the House start hearing requests from their constituents to get on the McGovern bill.
Ask your Representative to get on the McGovern bill: