Screw You, Peg-leg

Published by marco on

In matters military, the Obama administration has followed closely in the footsteps of the Bush administration. The Bush administration, in turn, only really innovated in brazenness and speed of execution, but also pretty much hewed to the military policy of the 50 years before it. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Obama administration decided not to sign the most recent ban on land mines. Perhaps Carter would have signed it, but he’s proven to be a much stronger former president than he was a president. He, like Obama, made several decisions that didn’t quite jibe with his espoused peaceful philosophy. He, like Obama, was in Afghanistan, but he used the Mujaheddin instead of sending more American troops.

The interview, Citing “National Defense Needs,” Obama Administration Says it Won’t Sign Ban on Land Mines by Amy Goodman (AlterNet), includes the following information, which makes the decision of the Obama State Department all the more perplexing:

“The U.S. military has not used this weapon in 18 years. The last time they used anti-personnel mines was in the first Gulf War in 1991. It hasn’t exported since 1992, it has not produced since 1997. It has no plans for further procurement of the weapon. We’re basically in compliance with the treaty. The U.S. has not used antipersonnel mines in the wars in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan. Not when the invasions occurred, and not since. They’re highly unlikely to do so in the future. Both of those countries, Iraq and Afghanistan have joined the mine ban treaty. That comprehensively banned the weapon. They’ve banned any possession of the weapon. The U.S. would be going against the treaty obligations of those countries if it were to use antipersonnel landmines in those countries.”

The final bit is not that convincing a deterrent, as any country willing to invade and conquer a land is then quite unlikely to give two shits about which treaties the previous leadership signed. But the first part, wherein we learn that the U.S. neither produces nor uses the land mines covered by the treaty[1] is surprising. What possible reason could the U.S. have for stating that it will “never sign the treaty”? Just mean-spiritedness?

Usually when the States mysteriously fails to do something this obviously good, it’s for one of the following reasons:

  1. The military or military-industrial complex doesn’t want it to. See the recent efforts to legalize torture.
  2. The rich don’t want it to. This segment has most recently been embodied in the financial industry. Why are the bailout and stimulus both based on the completely discredited trickle-down model? Because the rich want it to be; more for them.
  3. An ally doesn’t want it to. For example, child and slave labor seems like a slam dunk to condemn, except that China does it and we like to buy cheap shit, especially now that we have no money … and we owe China a lot of money … just don’t dig too deeply there, it’s depressing as hell.
  4. Israel doesn’t want it to. The prime example is the dozens of times that the U.S. vetoed the U.N.‘s official sanction of Israel’s treatment of the Occupied Territories. Nothing to see there, just move it right along, boyo.

In the case of land mines, (1) falls away because no one’s making money on land mines in the States—unless certain bigwigs have interests in foreign companies making land mines. (2) is always possible, though the relationship isn’t immediately obvious in this case, and the financial industry has learned that subtelty costs more and isn’t necessary in order to get what it wants. (3) is possible because China also hasn’t signed, though they, along with Russia, at least officially stated that they would eventually sign. (4) looks quite likely, but at this point is a completely unsubstantiated allegation.

At any rate, the failure to sign is just another dick move by one of the unfriendliest countries on the planet. The only reason it’s worth noting is that so many people—especially that country’s own citizens—are still completely brainwashed, thinking the States is all goodness and light, at worst misunderstood by evil enemies bent on its destruction for being so awesome in so many ways. And they all hate us for our freedoms.

[1] The treaty apparently doesn’t cover cluster bombs, which both the U.S. and its life partner Israel use in spades


#1 − South Korea is the key ally in this equation


The article, We Have a Nobel Peace President Who Won’t Ban Land Mines by Bill Moyers (AlterNet), points out that a major modern-day deployer of land mines is, in fact, South Korea, another major U.S. ally (home to dozens of thousands of U.S. troops and numerous bases).

“But still we refuse to sign, citing security commitments to our friends and allies, such as South Korea, where a million mines fill the demilitarized zone between it and North Korea.”

Given that situation, there is every reason to believe that U.S. commitments to South Korea play an important role in the continued lack of a U.S. signature on the land mine treaty. It’s not as if an objective reading of history would lead anyone to expect principles to have anything to do with U.S. policy.