Saturday, April 16, 2011


Cluster bomb hypocrisy

I've been hearing and reading a drumbeat of stories about Libyan forces using cluster bombs against Libyan rebels, and it may well be true, although the Libyan government denies it. But let's consider. TV reports and many press reports have only talked of "cluster bombs" being used. But in a handful of print sources, we find that the total number claimed to be used so far is...four (with 21 submunitions each, for a total of 84 submunitions). Not exactly a major development. Furthermore, while many of the news items I've heard and read talk about how cluster bombs are banned in many countries, only one (I can't remember where I read it) actually named the countries that have not renounced their use, countries which include not only Libya, but the United States and Israel. I guess using cluster bombs wouldn't sound so bad if the reports mentioned that they aren't even prohibited from use by the good old U.S. of A.

And the coverage itself is interesting. Needless to say, there hasn't been one word reminding viewers and readers that the U.S. and U.K. used 1400 cluster bombs in Yugoslavia in 1999, with at least 100 civilians dying post-"war" after coming in contact with the unexploded bombs. Nor has there been one word about the massive use of cluster bombs by Israel in Lebanon in 2006, with an estimated 4.6 million "bomblets" which have killed over 200 people since the assault ended. 90% of those munitions were fired in the last three days of the war, in an act which can only be regarded as one of the most massive war crimes ever committed.

Here's something else to note. While Israel was regularly firing cluster bombs during their assault on Lebanon, and while the phenomenon of the unexploded bombs and their consequences was covered by the U.S. corporate media after the war ended, while the war was going on a paper like the Washington Post ran not a single story mentioning cluster bombs. Contrast that to what's happening in Libya today where, on the sketchiest of evidence, and on the basis of alleged use of cluster bombs which is quite literally dwarfed by the number used by Israel against Lebanon and the U.S./U.K. against Yugoslavia, the media is already filled with such stories.

Why stop here? There's more...

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