Congressional Democrats, US Allies Break With Biden on Cluster Bombs for Ukraine

The UK, Spain, and Canada have warned against sending cluster bombs

by Dave DeCamp

President Biden’s decision to arm Ukraine with cluster bombs has sparked rare Democratic criticism of his proxy war with Russia, and some of the US’s top NATO allies have also spoken out against the move.

“The decision by the Biden administration to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine is unnecessary and a terrible mistake,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, according to Politico.

“The legacy of cluster bombs is misery, death and expensive cleanup generations after their use … These weapons should be eliminated from our stockpiles, not dumped in Ukraine,” she added.

Nineteen House progressives issued a joint statement condemning the move. “Cluster munitions have been banned by nearly 125 countries under the United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions because of the indiscriminate harm they cause, including mass civilian injury and death,” the statement said.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) signed on to the statement and criticized President Biden’s decision in an appearance on CNN. “Cluster bombs should never be used. That’s crossing a line,” Lee said.

NATO allies Spain, the UK, and Canada, all parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, have warned against providing Ukraine with cluster munitions. “Spain, based on the firm commitment it has with Ukraine, also has a firm commitment that certain weapons and bombs cannot be delivered under any circumstances,” said Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK will uphold its commitment as a “signatory to a convention which prohibits the production or use of cluster munitions and discourages their use.”

The Canadian government said in a statement that “we do not support the use of cluster munitions and are committed to putting an end to the effects cluster munitions have on civilians — particularly children.”

Full article.

Everything You Need to Know About Cluster Bombs US Will Send to Ukraine

Sputnik

US President Joe Biden confirmed on Friday that the US will deliver cluster munitions, also called cluster bombs, to Ukraine for use against Russia during its special military operation. The move comes despite the US’ past condemnation of the weaponry’s use.

In general, cluster munitions refer to any kind of shell that opens in the air and releases a number of smaller explosives, called “bomblets” over a larger area.

They can be made to be fired by artillery, naval guns, rocket launchers, or dropped from a plane.

Their use is condemned by many international human rights organizations since some of the bomblets dropped by cluster munitions, as high as 40% of them, fail to explode when fired. As such, the bomblets fall to the ground and act as landmines, capable of killing civilians for years or decades later.

What Type of Cluster Munitions Will the US Send?

The specific type of cluster munitions being sent to Ukraine are from a stockpile of Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions, or DPICMs, that the US military previously pledged to destroy. They can be fired from 155mm Howitzers and carry 88 bomblets inside their containers, each with a 10 square meters lethal range. A single canister can cover a 30,000-square-meter area.

While Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters on Thursday that the weapons have less than a 2.35% unexploded ordnance rate, the supervisory organization contends the weapons are over 20 years old and have a notoriously high rate of unexploded ordnance.

What’s the History of US Policy Regarding Cluster Munitions?

The United States has, at times, talked about ending its use of cluster munitions. A 2008 Defense Department directive signed by former US President George W. Bush instructed the military to remove all but a tiny fraction of its cluster munition arsenal by 2018 until safer versions, with an unexploded ordnance rate of under 1%, could be created.

After the Pentagon failed to develop reliable cluster munitions despite investing millions of dollars, then-President Donald Trump rescinded the Bush-era order in 2017.

While cluster munitions were used as far back as World War II, the United States infamously used them extensively during the Vietnam War, including in secret illegal operations in Laos. Around 20,000 people, 40% of them children, have been killed or injured in Laos from unexploded cluster bomblets since the war ended.

Cluster munitions were also used by the United States in Cambodia, Grenada, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan and during both Iraq wars, where they killed civilians and US military personnel.

Full article.

New York Times

The Trump administration, which came into office pledging to end “endless wars,” has now embraced weapons prohibited by more than 160 countries, and is readying them for future use.

Cluster bombs and antipersonnel land mines, deadly explosives known for maiming and killing civilians long after the fighting ended, have become integral to the Pentagon’s future war plans — but with little public rationale offered for where and why they would be used.

These new policies, endorsed by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, can be traced to 2017 when the Pentagon chief at the time, Jim Mattis, was drafting a military strategy that named Russia and China as the United States’ great power rivals. Both have significant ground forces, and mines historically have been used to deny an adversary’s troops the ability to advance on the battlefield.

In a news conference on Monday, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said that the policy change “was the result of an extensive conversation” with different departments of the executive branch. It is intended “to provide the commanders on the ground nonpersistent munitions that are necessary for mission success in major contingencies in extreme or exceptional circumstances,” he said.

Full article.

Former Trump Ally Hails Biden’s Decision To Send Controversial Cluster Bombs To Ukraine: ‘An Excellent Idea’

MSN.com

Former National Security Adviser to Donald TrumpJohn Bolton, on Friday, hailed President Joe Biden-led administration’s controversial decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine as “an excellent idea.”

What Happened: Team Biden’s decision to provide Ukraine with cluster bombs has sparked concerns from human rights groups and some congressional lawmakers.

Over 120 countries have banned the munitions because their imprecision and failure to detonate properly poses significant risks. These unexploded ordnance can persist for decades, endangering civilian populations, including children.

Bolton told John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM’s Cats & Cosby show, “I think it’s an excellent idea,” reported The Hill.

“We should have done it before the Ukrainians were asking for it.”

“Cluster munitions will aid the Ukrainians,” he added.

Full article.

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