MARCH 19, 2003
Ralph Nader or Robert Weissman, 202-387-8034
Nader Calls on Bush to Forgo Use of Cluster
Bombs and Landmines in Iraq
- March 19 - Following is a letter from Ralph Nader to President
Bush on the use of cluster bombs and landmines in Iraq:
In your March
17 address declaring your intention, assuming Saddam's unwillingness
to go into exile, to take the nation to war with Iraq, you directed
comments to the Iraqi people. You stated, "If we must begin a
military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men
who rule your country and not against you."
The way the
U.S. military under your command and the U.S. allies conduct the
war will test the sincerity of this claim. U.S. military officials
have already conceded that the war will inevitably take a substantial
number of civilian lives. While there is little doubt of the brutal
dictator Saddam's willingness to sacrifice his people's lives,
your decisions over military tactics will be a major determinant
of the extent of the civilian carnage.
to proceed with a war that violates international law on use of
force and without a constitutionally required Congressional declaration
of war, it is now incumbent on you to conduct the war according
to international humanitarian and human rights law, and to take
all possible measures to avoid loss of civilian life, especially
the lives of children.
steps, you must renounce the use of cluster bombs and landmines
in the coming conflict. These are weapons that take a devastating
toll on civilians, and continue to kill and maim long after the
military hostilities in which they are used have ended.
been subjected to an international treaty, which the United States
has refused to sign, which bars their use. These weapons are also
arguably barred by international customary law, since those deploying
them are inherently unable to discriminate in application, especially
over time, between combatants and civilians. These weapons are
indisputably particularly gruesome in their impact, with civilians
including children the vast majority of victims.
deploy numerous bomblets, a significant number of which fail to
explode. The unexploded bomblets then function as de facto anti-personnel
mines, again with the greatest toll among civilians, including
children. According to Human Rights Watch, "more than 1,600 Kuwaiti
and Iraqi civilians have been killed, and another 2,500 injured,
by the estimated 1.2 million cluster bomb duds left following
the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which saw the most extensive use of
cluster bombs in history."
given your decision in the name of the American people to embark
on a discretionary war of choice against Iraq, the very least
that you owe the Iraqi people is a commitment not to use weaponry
that poses special dangers to civilians, during military conflict
and in the period after hostilities have ceased.
bombing begins, you should publicly detail the specific commitments
the United States will make to spare the loss of life in the course
of the war-invasion against Iraq, and the steps our nation will
take to protect Iraqi populations after the war from the chaos,
anarchy and grave humanitarian crisis likely to ensue. First on
the list should be a public pledge not to use landmines or cluster
bombs, indiscriminate weapons that steal limbs, senses and lives
from innocents even more effectively than from combatants.
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