American cluster bombs still blasting Laotian children
Couple of weeks ago, I posted the story of Paul Cottle, who left his job when his company was taken over by ATK, maker of cluster bombs. A comment showed up this week, from a reader named Dan, like so:
Way to go Paul! It’s heartening to see such courage. If you have a second, check out the open letter to Paul from the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines at http://www.uscbl.org.
I followed the link, and found these remarkable paragraphs:
On April 30, 1975 Saigon fell to North Vietnamese forces, finally ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. …
From 1964 to 1973 the United States dropped 90 million cluster bomblets on neighboring Laos in 580,000 bombing missions—equivalent to one planeload every 8 minutes, 24 hours-a-day, for 9 years.
Up to 30% of the cluster bomblets failed to detonate, leaving as many as 25-30 million unexploded bomblets covering more than one-third of Laos at war’s end. It is estimated that there are at least 10 million cluster submunitions still littering the land.
In the years since, as many as 12,000 civilians—an estimated 40% of them children—have been killed or maimed, with hundreds of new casualties each year. In addition, cluster bomblets hamper basic food production and economic development in Laos, one of the poorest countries in the world.
According to the UN Development Program, at current funding levels the cluster bomb removal program may take up to 100 years to complete.
I would think that removing these things would be a matter of making amends. We shouldn’t have been there, we shouldn’t have dropped munitions of this consequence, and we certainly shouldn’t doom Laotian children—whose parents weren’t even alive then—to having their little legs blown off by Uncle Sam’s weapons.
C’mon, America – our government should be accountable for what it does. Can we be so small of heart as to allow children to bear the consequences of our mistakes?
Action steps are at the link. Thanks, Dan!
Tags: cluster+bombs, Campaign+to+ban+landmines, Paul+Cottle, ATK, Vietnam, Laos, bomblets, Monte Asbury