Thursday, April 25, 2013

277,000,000 to 2

Trey Smith

The horror of Boston should be a reminder that the choice of weaponry can be in itself an act of evil. “Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim” is the way The New York Times defined the hideousness of the weapons used, and President Obama made clear that “anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” But are we as a society prepared to be judged by that standard?

The president’s deployment of drones that all too often treat innocent civilians as collateral damage comes quickly to mind. It should also be pointed out that the U.S. still maintains a nuclear arsenal and, as our killing and wounding hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese demonstrated, those weapons are inherently, by the president’s definition, weapons of terror. But it is America’s role in the deployment of antipersonnel land mines, and our country’s refusal to sign off on a ban on cluster munitions agreed to by most of the world’s nations, that offers the most glaring analogy with the carnage of Boston.

To this day, antipersonnel weapons –– the technologically refined version of the primitive pressure cooker fragmentation bombs exploded in Boston –– maim and kill farmers and their children in the Southeast Asian killing fields left over from our country’s past experiment in genocide. An experiment that as a sideshow to our obsession with replacing French colonialism in Vietnam involved dropping 277 million cluster bomblets on Laos between 1964 and 1973.

The whole point of a cluster weapon is to target an area the size of several football fields with the same bits of maiming steel that did so much damage in Boston. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has been active in attempting to clear land of remaining bomblets, estimates 10,000 Lao civilian casualties to date from such weapons. As many as twenty-seven million unexploded bomblets remain in the country, according to the committee.
~ from 277 Million Boston Bombings by Robert Scheer ~
Americans are all worked up about 2 IEDs planted in a crowd, but few of these same worked up people think at all about about those "277 million cluster bomblets" or the millions of landmines this nation has deployed itself or sold to others. I'm not saying that people shouldn't be worked up about the situation in Boston, but what about everywhere else? If 3 dead and 200+ injured is a cause for public outrage, where is the outrage for the tens of thousands killed and injured?

As I have pointed out numerous times before, I certainly can understand why much of the rest of the world bristles at American Exceptionalism. If a bomb explodes within our borders, it is a tragedy. If a bomb explodes within the borders of one of our western allies, it is a travesty. If a bomb explodes almost anywhere else -- particularly if it's one of "our" bombs -- there generally is no reaction at all. About the most you might get from the majority of Americans is the briefest of an afterthought, if even that much!

Though we might like to believe otherwise, the US does not occupy the moral high ground. We kill and maim far more than we are killed or maimed. The numbers aren't even close.

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