Friday, February 27, 2004

The Washington Post reports (registration required) on a planned shift in the US's stance on landmines.

The Post says President Bush is to outlaw so-called "dumb" or "inert" landmines -- but allow the unlimited use of what are inappropriately called "smart" mines (BBC News Online also has the story.)

It's a deeply disturbing and utterly cowardly move.

The Bush administration is increasing spending on mine clearance and mine awareness programmes by 50% as a way of deflecting attention from the real issue -- that five years after it was accepted into international law, the USA still has not signed the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty. That puts America in the same category as every other country in its much-vaunted Axis of Evil -- Iran, Iraq and North Korea (the full list of non-signatories can be found here.)

It would appear that President Bush has abandoned Bill Clinton's plans for a total ban on antipersonnel landmines by 2006.

Any initiative to reduce the use of landmines is, of course, welcome. But if the Bush administration really wants to do something to tackle the worldwide landmine problem it should take the lead and join the 150 countries that have signed the Mine Ban Treaty, which outlaws allanti-personnel mines.


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