At Last, Something That's Still Made in the USA
The U.S. State Department, we hear, is investigating Israel's use of U.S.-produced
and U.S.-supplied anti-personnel weapons against civilian populations in Lebanon.
It seems U.N. and Human Rights investigators have found nearly 300 sites where
unexploded examples of these horrific weapons of mass destruction have turned
up, many of them with their "Made in USA" labels intact.
The N.Y. Times even ran a color map displaying the wide area of southern Lebanon
where the U.S.-built howitzer shells, bombs and rocket warheads fired by the
Israeli Defense Force have landed.
This is an atrocity. I spent some time in Laos, in 1995, and saw children aged
10 or 12 missing arms and legs, or blind, because they'd run into stray or buried
anti-personnel "bombies" (as they call them there), a deadly legacy
of the U.S. secret air war against that country of a decade earlier. That's
what makes these nasty weapons particularly reprehensible: like mines, they
kill soldiers and civilians alike, and they keep killing long after a conflict
But as disgusting as this story is, and as terrible as the IDF's-and Hezzbollah's-use
of such inhuman weaponry may be, for us in the United States the real question
should be not what Israel is doing, but rather why is our country making these
weapons in the first place? And why haven't we seen maps in our media showing
where these weapons were used in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Because make no mistake: the U.S. military used and continues to use antipersonnel
shells, bombs and rockets in both those places in quantities that dwarf their
use by Israel in Lebanon.
There were isolated reports about anti-personnel ordnance being used in urban
settings like Baghdad during the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Some were even parachuted
down to the ground, so that they could explode later, when someone passes by-thus
further clouding the matter of who actually gets killed (and increasing the
likelihood that the victims would be inquisitive children). There were also
a number of reports that anti-personnel ordnance was used in quantity during
the assault on the city of Fallujah in 2004. But as far as I can tell, no mainstream
media outlet has done a systematic investigation or report on how widespread
U.S. use of anti-personnel weapons has been and is now in Afghanistan and Iraq,
nor have I seen any report that looks at the actual rules controlling the use
of those weapons by U.S. forces.
Reportedly, the State Department is investigating Israel's use of anti-personnel
weapons because of reports that the IDF violated a secret agreement not to use
them against civilian targets. Israel's response reportedly is that it only
used them against Hezzbollah missile launching sites, but then they note that
since Hezzbollah was allegedly launching its missiles from locations in residential
neighborhoods, this means that the weapons were in fact being used where civilians
Is this the way the U.S. military uses these same weapons, too? The few reports
I recall seeing suggest this is so. Certainly if our forces dropped anti-personnel
weapons into cities like Fallujah and Baghdad, as reports indicated at the time,
then they were putting large numbers of civilians in harm's way.
It seems the height of hypocrisy for the State Department to be investigating
Israel for doing just what the U.S. does with these ugly weapons.
It also seems hypocritical for the U.S. media to be devoting so much time and
ink to reporting so breathlessly on the IDF's use of American anti-personnel
weapons and on Hezzbollah's use of a primitive version of the same thing, while
largely ignoring our own military's much wider use of them.
Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing
Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal and
Can't be Happening!". Lindorff's new book is "The
Case for Impeachment", co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.He can be reached
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