An aside about Cluster Bombs

I have never understood cluster bombs and why they are such a problem. Now, after a visit to the Hawthorn Ordnance Museum, I do understand.  That might not be the good news. Be warned, if you don’t understand, your ignorance might be bliss; once you do understand, you might not like our fellow Americans as much . While in the airplane, the bomb looks pretty much like a run of the mill people killing device. However, it is innocuously labeled Dispenser, Aircraft so as it will not to be confused with a regular bomb.

The dispenser is rigged to come apart after it is dropped.  Inside are hundreds of tennis ball size bomblets that are then spread across the countryside. They have little aerodynamic wing stubs that start the bomblets rotating once they leave the container.

This act of rotating arms the bomblet so, when it hits the ground, they will explode. Of course, they all go in slightly different directions to cover as wide an area as possible. Because most of the dispensers are dropped from low flying fighter aircraft, many of the bomblets don’t have a chance to arm themselves before they hit the ground. So, in Vietnam, in Laos, in Cambodia, there are just millions of these things still lying around on the ground, or in the grass, or in bushes, all unexploded. Waiting for a farmer to hit them with a plow or a child to pick them up and give them a good shake. Years later, many of them are still there. Waiting.

According to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in The Fog of War, after the firebombing of Tokyo, former Army Air Force General Curtis LeMay said to him, It is a good thing that we are going to win this war, otherwise we would be tried as war criminals. He was probably right. As far as I am concerned, the guys who dropped these all over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, should also be tried as war criminals.

That is one of the problems with war, once in a war, people will do anything to win. The United States is really no exception. We don’t wear suicide vests or club people to death, we don’t have to, we have cluster bombs and drones.

3 thoughts on “An aside about Cluster Bombs

  1. Unfortunately, in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, it’s not just old cluster bombs, but also land mines and other area denial munitions that still take a too-high yearly toll of rural dwellers. These munitions were deployed by both sides, but mainly by the U.S. We saw many people, especially in central Vietnam and Cambodia, who were maimed and begging in the streets as a result. And don’t get me started on the horrific, lingering results of Agent Orange and other components of our chemical war chest. The U.S. still refuses to ratify the anti-land mine treaty. And proposals to ban cluster bombs are routinely ignored.

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