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Many people say that war is primitive. But it is not - quite the contrary. War is completely human: it is not humane but it is human. It is human because it is born from the hatred between governments, between nations, and between people. And hatred is human - an animal does not attack out of contempt, it attacks out of basic self-defense. Yet, our reasons for war are never out of 'basic' self-defense; our motives for war are complex motives that can only be human. Yet, it is the act of war that makes us judge war as barbaric - the action of settling things through violence. It is the action of taking old habits with deadlier technology that makes war primitive. Today, we still suffer from our old bad habits of war. However, we can now add that we suffer from delusional perspectives on war. We now think that there are safer ways to make war. How very wrong we are. We do not make war safer; we simply make things safer for war.
Modern-day arguments on war procedures include the controversy of cluster munitions or better known as cluster bombs (air-dropped or ground-launched shells that eject multiple smaller "bomblets"). The argument on this form of armament is the danger that it poses for civilians when they are dropped. The "bomblets" often scatter in a broad radius, which are hazardous whether they have exploded or not. In fact, one dispute involves how cluster bombs present more danger unexploded. The Cluster Munition Coalition explains that "unexploded submunitions can explode when children pick them up and play with them, they can explode when people hit them." Furthermore, it is said that "children are often attracted to their small size and bright colours." (BBC News) This leads to the frequent casualties that places like the Falklands, Laos, Kosovo, and Kuwait still suffer today even after conflict has ended. (Norton-Taylor) There are many civilians that have fallen prey to undetonated cluster bombs in ignorance of not knowing what it was or mistaking it for something else:
Sayyid Ahmad Sanef believed the bright yellow object lying on the ground near his home was one of the 37,000 plastic humanitarian aid packages of the same colour dropped on Afghanistan by US military aircraft - but it had come from a cluster bomb. (BBC News)
These small and deadly packages are more likely to take out more civilians than their military targets. Nevertheless, US military continues to use cluster munitions in the war in Iraq as it did in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon especially defends the uses of cluster bombs claiming it to be efficient as well as effective. Regarding the criticisms of cluster bomb failure, the Pentagon has counter-argued that they have the same initial failure rate like other forms of munitions even though in reality "the initial failure rate range from 2 percent to 30 percent or more, depending on conditions." (Human Rights Watch) History shows the mixed record of cluster munitions and its success:
In the Gulf War these munitions were seen to be highly effective in destroying tanks, guns, missiles and strategic installations. But in Kosovo the damage that cluster bombs inflicted on Serb forces in the field was minimal. (Beach 3)
NATO also defends the use of cluster bombs claiming that they have been sending soldiers to places like Kosovo to educate children to stay away from cluster "bomblets" and landmines. (Kahrs) Criticisms on cluster bombs are built on morals; advocacies, on convenience.
The convenience that the Pentagon, NATO, and other organizations demonstrate in defending the use of cluster bombs comes down to a monetary issue. The truth is that cluster bombs are quite economic in comparison to other forms of munitions that are unitary or attack only one target at a time. While the U.S. claims to be now using what is called "smart" submunitions, which are similar to guided missiles and have the ability to locate and attack a certain target, they still use standard cluster munitions. In addition, the "'smart' submunition...are many times more expensive than standard cluster bombs, which are cheap and simple to manufacture." (Wikipedia) Perhaps to some, the lives of civilians are equivalent to the price of a cluster bomb. It would seem that way to the American government and many of the NATO governments. In the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Israel asked the Bush administration to send them weaponry with wide blasts - among this sort of weaponry fell in cluster bombs. With only slight reluctance, the U.S. obliged with Israel's demands:
Arab governments, under pressure to halt the rising number of civilian casualties in Lebanon, have criticized the measure for not calling for a withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.
While Bush administration officials have criticized Israeli strikes that have caused civilian casualties, they have also backed the offensive against Hezbollah by rushing arms shipments to the region. (Cloud)
Currently, unexploded cluster bombs are still found in Southern Lebanon resulting in casual incidents. ("Landmines...") Israel, in its way, has left a deadly legacy behind.
Meanwhile other countries around the world have taken action against the use of the cluster bombs such as Australia. Their Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill 2006 clearly states:
...this Act is to ensure that innocent civilians in conflict zones are not maimed, killed or put at risk, as a result of Australians possessing, using or manufacturing cluster munitions. (Allison et al. 2)
In reality there is neither justification for war nor a right way of making war, however, if civilian casualties can be prevented by using slightly more expensive and effective weapons, why must these deadly bombs be used? How is it that the cost of a war budget becomes more significant than the cost of a life? In the end, the wars that use this form of weaponry will only leave scars - scars that are found in the unexploded cluster bombs. They are the constant reminders of the pain of war.
Years, decades, centuries and millennia will pass and war will still exist. And as long as war exists, the conveniences of war will stay alive as well. We will continue to use cluster bombs, we will continue to kill innocents, and we will continue to ruin lives. War is about motives and it in war it is the ends that justify the means. If cluster bombs are cheap, efficient, and effective, the last thing governments like the United States will care about are a "few of casualties." There is irony in this debate. It is an irony that comes from arguing about the 'safety' of 'war' and about how 'humane' a 'weapon' may or may not be. But more than irony, there is absurdity. The level of ridiculousness in debating about whether cluster bombs should or should not be used is as ridiculous as questioning whether it's alright for a child to be blown up. The answer is simple - cluster bombs should be prohibited. If some governments can do so, why can't all? War should be prohibited as well, but that isn't in debate.