“Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror,” so says President Obama regarding the Boston Marathon bombings.
That’s an interesting perspective considering the acts of terror the United States has carried out over the years. According to Obama’s definition, Iraq’s opening salvo of “shock and awe,” today’s deployment of weaponized drones, and the U.S. use of cluster bombs in war are all acts of terror. War itself is an act of terror.
So, of course, Obama is correct. The bombings were acts of terror. The Boston Marathon pressure cooker bombs and pipe bombs used by the Tsarnaev brothers were homemade versions of cluster bombs. Homemade bombs that are essentially the same improvised explosive devices (IED) used by terrorist in Iraq and Afghanistan that have killed and maimed many thousands of civilians, children, U.S. and coalition soldiers.
Ever since the Vietnam War, the U.S. has used cluster bombs in war. Like the Boston Marathon pressure cooker bombs, cluster bombs are loaded with bomblets that when the device explodes disperses razor-sharp shrapnel over a wide area. The bomblets used in the Boston bombs were nails and ball bearings/BB pellets. Cluster bombs are more powerful, high-tech, cover a wider area, and are loaded with bomblets that are even more deadly. Today U.S. cluster bomb remnants continue to kill and maim. Ninety-eight percent of all known cluster bomb victims are civilians, of which 40%, by some estimates, are children.
In 2010, the United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions banned cluster bomb types of weapons. Eighty-one of the 112 nations, who signed the agreement, ratified it. It’s disappointing that the U.S. did not. The U.S. declares, according to a Congressional Research Service report, “cluster munitions are available for use by every combat aircraft in the U.S. inventory; they are integral to every Army or Marine maneuver element and in some cases constitute up to 50 percent of tactical indirect fire support.”
At some point, the U.S. may sign the agreement. Congress is working on enacting legislation that will be acceptable to the Cluster Munitions Convention. The U.S. stance is that they are “developing advanced cluster munitions that were less likely to harm civilians and [that they have] provided nearly half of all global funding for the clearance of unexploded ordnance.”
Obama’s remark that targeting innocent civilians is an act of terror would have greater import if it weren’t hypocritical. His remark unintentionally makes the U.S. look more moral than it really is. The Boston Marathon bombings were despicable acts. Even more so, the U.S. carries out these same acts in war with greater efficiency and lethality. War and the deployment of cluster bombs should never be the American way. The act of killing and maiming innocent civilians and children are paradoxical to what it means to be an American. Instead of our government trying to find efficient ways to kill and maim, they should be finding ways to stop the killing and maiming, and find ways of peace. What the U.S. should have done is to have simply signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions agreement.
Robert Scheer, 277 Million Boston Bombings, truthdig.com