Land Mines

Try this search on Google, skim some of the links: landmine manufacture agreement. The U.S. refused to sign the international agreement banning the production and use of landmines: they're in good company with Russia, China, India, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and North and South Korea. Wait - that includes two of Mr. Bush's three "Axis of Evil" countries, an odd choice of alignment for the U.S. Cogent quotes from a couple of the search results:

"Every 22 minutes someone falls victim to a landmine. Caring for landmine victims saps the economies and health care resources of communities already burdened by the hardships of war. Landmines impede reconstruction of war torn communities, remove people from the work force, render agricultural land unusable, terrorize and confine civilian populations."

"Of the nations who have not signed the agreement, the largest are India, China, Russia, and the United States. In the case of the Americans, they refused to sign because the treaty contained no ‘Korean exception’: they wanted to retain the unconstrained right to mine the ‘demilitarized zone (DMZ)’ between North and South Korea. They claim the more than one million mines they have seeded along the DMZ help maintain the fragile peace by deterring a North Korean attack. What deters this mythical attack is not landmines: it is F-16s, and Patriot missiles, and a much more sophisticated panoply of weaponry than North Korea could ever hope to muster, even if they really do have nuclear capability."

While I usually have opinions about politics and I'm not too shy about airing them in person, I don't often declare them as publicly as this. I think this is an issue that's less likely than usual to divide people along party lines. I know there are Americans reading this blog (be they ever so few) - please consider calling your congressman. Here's a parting thought for you: Vietnam's war ended thirty years ago, and mines there are as much as 40 years old. The vast majority of them are still fully functional. Landmines remain active for decades, and they don't pay any attention to ceasefires or treaties.