[Documents menu] Documents menu

Date: Fri, 11 Jul 97 14:55:24 CDT
From: "Workers World" <ww@wwpublish.com>
Subject: Why U.S. won't sign land-mine treaty

Why U.S.Won't Sign Land-Mine Treaty

By Deirdre Griswold, Workers World, 10 July 1997

Land mines horribly maim and kill people. They also drag down a country's economy and put a great burden on the healthy, who must care for the grievously injured.

Representatives of some 150 countries met in Brussels, Belgium, for four days at the end of June for a conference sponsored by the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines and the Belgian government. At the end, 97 countries pledged to sign a binding treaty to ban land mines.

The United States was not among them.

An estimated 120 million land mines are scattered in more than 70 countries, according to the American Red Cross. Organizers say these weapons claim 26,000 victims each year- -one person every 20 minutes.

Among the countries most affected are Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Angola, Mozambique and Afghanistan. In every one, U.S. forces or their proxies planted millions of mines. And there are thousands of tragic stories of children, old people and those in the prime of life blown apart by Pentagon mines that the U.S. media will never tell.

What possible excuse can Washington give for not signing the treaty?

The Clinton administration says it won't sign a global agreement until Russia and China do, too, and that a ban on land mines must be negotiated through the United Nations.

Russia and China are poorer countries that are still targeted by the Pentagon. The United States now has absolute military domination in such high-tech areas as missiles, planes, aircraft carriers and submarines. But mines are relatively cheap. As long as other countries have reason to fear the Pentagon, they are likely not to rule out mines as a defensive weapon.

So the real problem that must be addressed is Pentagon domination around the world. Because it's the United States that has bases in over 100 countries now. It's the United States that is involved in almost every conflict around the world.

It's the United States that plants mines on other people's lands. That's not the same thing as laying down mines on your own territory to stop an invader.

This aggressive military posture in turn reflects the unbridled race of U.S. corporations for super profits around the globe.

With the Cold War now over, U.S. militarism continues at almost the same level as before. U.S. "defense" industries continue to churn out wildly expensive weapons to sell around the world. The federal budget still groans under the cost of past, present and future wars. And the U.S. government--whether headed by Democrats or Republicans-- oozes talk of peace while sabotaging any steps to meaningfully reduce the level of arms in the world.

Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww@workers.org. For subscription info send message to: info@workers.org. Web: http://workers.org