The McCains split on Cluster Bombs

In trying to research some information on the tax credit that John McCain talked about for zero emission cars, kudos, that he states will be available to everybody. I have e-mailed the campaign to double check that it will a refundable credit so that all families, even those with out a tax liability will benefit from the credit. I will post what I learn later.

I noticed a section on Cindy McCain and checked out some of her activities and noticed this trip in April to Kosovo (scroll to the bottom) to look at efforts to remove munitions from the country.

Cindy recently visited HALO Trust’s operation in Kosovo. She met with the de-miners and reviewed minefields and cluster bomb strikes. While in Kosovo, she talked with the students of a school that still has unexploded munitions in their playground. She also spent time with the members of HALO Trusts operation in Kosovo learning about new de-mining techniques and the obstacles HALO faces in making Kosovo mine free. She wrapped up her visit by meeting with both the President and Prime Minister to get their assurances of their commitment to a mine free Kosovo. Shortly after her visit, one man was killed and three were injured at a site she had reviewed.

Now for me the easiest way to prevent this problem is don’t let it happen in the first place. In a weird way it is like a prevention plan, don’t let the mines and cluster bombs be available, then they can’t be put down, which means later they won’t need to be cleaned up.

Now cluster bombs are the worst, they are small, a lot of them don’t explode and they stick around for a long time. Oh, and they are expensive to remove. Cluster bombs are sooo bad that there is a new international convention on this type of munition, the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Countries that ratify the convention are obliged “never under any circumstances to”:

(a) Use cluster munitions;
(b) Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions;
(c) Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.

Now sadly the US is not currently a party to this convention.  You might wonder what the US has done on this topic.  Well in 2006, there was an amendment that address this issue, SA 4882 (roll call)

SA 4882. Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself and Mr. LEAHY) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by her to the bill H.R. 5631, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes; as follows:

At the end of title VIII, add the following:

Sec. 8109. No funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act my be obligated or expended to acquire, utilize, sell, or transfer any cluster munition unless the rules of engagement applicable to the cluster munition ensure that the cluster munition will not be used in or near any concentrated population of civilians, whether permanent or temporary, including inhabited parts of cities or villages, camps or columns of refugees or evacuees, or camps or groups of nomads.

Now this amendment isn’t that horrible, it is basically asking that the military draw up (or amend current ones) rules of engagements that will protect civilian locations before authorizing any purchase and movement of cluster munitions.

Now the amendment didn’t pass losing 30-70.  Of the recent candidates, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and McCain voted against it (for open rules of engagement for cluster munitions), and Obama for it.

To me this seems like a bit of a split in the McCains.

-Josh

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