Thursday, April 17, 2003

Cluster Bomb Use In Populated Areas Condemned

Disturbing accusations by Human Rights Watch:
“U.S. commanders should never use cluster munitions in populated areas,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “These are wholly inappropriate weapons when civilians are around. The reported use of cluster munitions in Baghdad is a serious charge and the Pentagon must respond publicly to it.”

Newsday’s reporter provided Human Rights Watch with a photograph he had taken inside a building in what he described as a clearly residential neighborhood well inside Baghdad. Human Rights Watch identified an unexploded cluster submunition in the photograph from either a ground-based Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or an artillery projectile. The damage to the surrounding walls and floor were also consistent with a cluster munition strike. Human Rights Watch has previously reported that, according to The Pentagon’s own data, these particular submunitions have an especially high failure rate.

This is damning stuff. What were we thinking using this stuff? Was it really necessary? It's almost shocking when considering the seeming ease of victory. Did the cluster bombs have such a signifigant bearing on this that they had to be used? Shock and awe warfare indeed.

This is the first confirmed instance of U.S. use of cluster munitions in Baghdad or other highly populated areas. There have been many unconfirmed allegations of use of both air-dropped and surface-delivered cluster munitions in urban areas by the United States and the United Kingdom. Most notably, some press accounts attributed the deaths of scores of civilians near the village of Hilla in central Iraq on April 1 to U.S. cluster bombs, but the facts have not been established.