Escalation and Hypocrisy: The Perilous Path of Cluster Bomb Supply in Ukraine

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Princess Diana
Princess Diana campaign against cluster mines

In the realm of warfare, there exists a repugnant weapon that thrives on chaos and devastation—the cluster bomb.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) was born out of a collective determination to address the humanitarian consequences and unacceptable harm to civilians caused by cluster munitions.

Britain has been a leading light on the issue of cluster bombs. Following the lead on landmines of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Foreign Office proved one of the main movers of the ground-breaking 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, helping to persuade 22 of 30 Nato allies to sign up to the agreement to ban their use.

Therefore it comes as something of a shock, to find that the Government is in the position where they are now allied with Washington who has no compulsion in using such indiscriminate instruments of war.

No 10 said the Prime Minister complied with his legal duty to “discourage” the use of cluster munitions during a meeting with President Biden in Downing Street on Monday, but suggested this was little more than a formality.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said the decision to dispatch cluster weapons “was a difficult choice for the US that’s been forced on them by Russia’s war aggression”.

For many it is hard to understand that position knowing the destruction these outlawed dives bring, not just now but for the decades to follow any coming peace.

cluster mines.png
Image courtesy of the BBC

The Perilous Path of Cluster Bomb Supply in Ukraine

The United States announced its compliance with Ukraine’s request for these controversial munitions, a decision that has sparked outrage among human rights groups and ignited a fiery debate, in violation of a ban embraced by over 100 nations, raises grave concerns and exposing the stark hypocrisy of those involved.

Cluster munitions are designed to scatter an immense number of tiny bomblets across a vast area, launched from rockets, missiles, or artillery shells. While they aim to explode upon impact, a significant portion of these bomblets end up as insidious “duds,” lying in wait on the ground. Their dormant state proves treacherous, as unsuspecting victims, particularly children, may encounter them, mistaking these miniature time bombs for innocent playthings. The consequences are ghastly—lives are lost, limbs are maimed, and the very fabric of civilian existence is torn asunder.

It is no wonder that more than 100 countries, including leading arms manufacturing nations such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, have joined forces in a resolute stand against these insidious weapons. The Convention on Cluster Munitions unequivocally declares their use and stockpiling as illegal due to their indiscriminate impact on civilian populations. These nations recognise the abhorrence and grave human rights violations associated with cluster mines, labelling them as nothing short of a war crime.

Cluster Bombs and the Erosion of Moral Authority in the Ukraine Conflict

Yet, the shadows of hypocrisy loom large as the United States, a nation that claims to champion democratic values and human rights, has veered off course, aligning itself with the morally dubious path of supplying Ukraine with cluster mines.

Amidst the plea from Ukraine for more and more weapons, a distressing pattern emerges—one that unveils a dangerous appetite for bigger, more destructive armaments. As this conflict rages on, we witness a harrowing trajectory towards an ominous crescendo, one that possesses the capacity to engulf not only Europe but the entire world in an unwanted and perilous confrontation.

The battlegrounds of southern and eastern Ukraine have become arenas of attrition, demanding artillery as a crucial tool. Supporters argue that cluster bombs could provide Ukrainian forces with the fleeting advantage needed to navigate the treacherous terrain, allowing them to counter Russian aggression and navigate through minefields.

However, opposing voices emphasise that alternative conventional weaponry could achieve similar outcomes, rendering the use of cluster bombs unnecessary. The decision to supply these horrific instruments of war to Ukraine has stirred contentious debates within Washington, drawing sharp lines between Democrats, human rights advocates, and proponents of military strategies.

This choice by the United States bears significant consequences. It tarnishes the moral high ground that Washington claims to occupy in this ongoing conflict. The documented war crimes committed by Russia may indeed be extensive, but the decision to supply cluster munitions chips away at the very foundations of moral authority. Accusations of hypocrisy will rain upon the United States, fostering division among its Western allies. This potential fracture in the alliance is precisely what Russian President Vladimir Putin yearns for—a splintered front that weakens the resolve against his actions.

In the midst of this alarming escalation, a haunting question emerges: Where are the voices of peace? Where are the doves that once symbolized hope and advocated for a peaceful resolution?

Each escalation brings us perilously closer to a precipice, where the spark of conflict could ignite a catastrophic blaze that engulfs not only the immediate actors but also draws in nations far beyond the borders of this regional strife.

Let us not be blinded by the fog of war or the allure of strategic gains and more so the propagandist of state-run media. The use of cluster munitions is a hideous affront to humanity, a weapon that wreaks havoc on innocent lives and ravages entire communities.

The escalation of this proxy war through the supply of cluster bombs is an affront to the principles of justice, dignity, and human rights. It is a decision that casts a long, dark shadow over the credibility of those involved, tainting their claims to righteousness. The world must stand united against the use of such abominable weapons and recommit to the pursuit of peace, guided by compassion and the preservation of human life.

No one wants to see a future where Ukrainian children are victims of a war that ended decades ago wounded by left behind weapons of indiscriminate destruction.

Now, more than ever, we must emphasise the importance of diplomacy, dialogue, and international cooperation. It is imperative that we channel our energies towards de-escalation, seeking avenues for negotiation and compromise.

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