Thursday, December 3, 2009

Silliness about Mines

If you want to see why most human rights advocates shouldn't be taken too seriously, look no further than an LA Times opinion piece by Jody Williams called, "United States' shameful land mine policy." Williams (like Obama) is a nobel peace prize winner and the "founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines." As the title indicates, Williams is horrified and upset that President Obama won't sign the International Mine Ban Treaty. The entire article is a pretty funny combination of hysteria, emotionalism and naivete. Here are some amusing excerpts.
Obama's position on land mines calls into question his expressed views on multilateralism, respect for international humanitarian law and disarmament. How can he, with total credibility, lead the world to nuclear disarmament when his own country won't give up even land mines?
Apparently she actually believes that Obama could somehow "lead the world to nuclear disarmament." I guess that's not surprising from someone that thinks a treaty to ban mines is actually going to prevent a country that really needs to use them from doing so.
I voted for Obama. I wanted to believe that his soaring rhetoric might actually be turned into a revival for the U.S. on issues of multilateralism, international humanitarian law and, of course, human rights. But at the moment, I'm quite disillusioned.
If Williams is "disillusioned" with Obama, he must be doing something right. And someone might want to tell her that there is no such thing as international humanitarian "law." Ideas about human rights vary wildly throughout the world.
When will the U.S. join the rest of the world in banning these insidious weapons of terror that have caused so much heartbreak and devastation?

Hopefully never. Denying ourselves the possession of weapons as useful as mines because of the bleatings of naive fools like Williams would be the height of idiocy. And of course the "rest of the world" has hardly banned them. At this very moment one of the greatest threats our soldiers face in Afghanistan, as previously in Iraq, are IEDs. Improvised explosives devices are a type of command-detonated mine. Mines come in a wide variety, from improvised weapons such as IEDs, to highly specialized weapons that can be delivered and deployed in various ways. 

Treaties banning weapons are largely unenforceable, except possibly against weak states, give a false sense of security, and remove valuable and useful military options. Far from considering banning mines, the U.S. is hopefully working to develop new more effective types that take advantage of the latest technology. Demonizing weapon systems is based primarily on emotionalism, and should be ignored by policy makers. Look at William's cry, mines have caused "so much heartbreak and devastation." You know what else causes heartbreak and devastation? Bullets and artillery shells. We aren't banning them and we shouldn't ban mines either. There is nothing "shameful" about the U.S. refusal to sign a useless and harmful treaty.

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