Monday, November 30, 2009

Obama Rejects International Convention Banning Land Mines

Obama has refused to sign the international convention banning land mines. This is the same policy of his predecessor, a policy I am strongly in favor of. The first thing to note is that just because we have refused to ban them does not commit us to using them. It is a fairly simple notion, but one that should be mentioned. The reverse is obviously not true. Should we ban them and decide we need them, we would be in violation of the treaty. That assumes we had kept any around which would be doubtful. Many of our mines are 'smart mines'. Smart mines can be programed to disarm themselves and have fail safes which render them useless after a set period of time. That means we do not have to worry about a civilian stepping on one a century after the conflict has ended. Mines are area denial weapons and serve to either channel and enemy or guard a vulnerable flank. Without mines we would be stuck committing extra manpower to guard those areas or just hoping the enemy does not find our weak spot. Neither option is very palatable. Why should we handicap our forces while others are not doing the same? We should not, and Obama is right about this. Regardless of if we will ever need them again, the 'tool' should be kept in our 'kit' just in case.

"The Obama administration has decided not to sign an international convention banning land mines.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Tuesday that the administration recently completed a review and decided not to change the Bush-era policy.

"We decided that our land mine policy remains in effect," he said.

More than 150 countries have agreed to the Mine Ban Treaty's provisions to end the production, use, stockpiling and trade in mines. Besides the United States, holdouts include: China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Russia.


  1. I seem to recall that the US position under Clinton and Bush was that we would sign the treaty provided that we were granted an exception for the Korean border, which the international chattering classes weren't willing to accept.

  2. Well, we've had some recent years of experience that have taught us mines are useful to protect a base or an outpost that is deep in Indian country.

    Another argument was that we had "other technologies" that could replace the classic landmine. Trouble is, the other technology turned out to be air-delivered cluster bombs and those aren't very popular, either.

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