PEACE PROBE by Gene Stoltzfus

Cluster Bombs Coming Soon by peaceprobe
March 21, 2006, 11:42 am
Filed under: Iraq, Militarism

When I was in Iraq I visited neighborhood after neighborhood that had been bombed in the war. People asked me why the bombs including cluster bombs were targeted to their neighborhoods. Cluster bombs,  are small bombs, usually circular and three or more inches in diameter, hundreds of which are spread from a mother bomb over a large area of one or more acres. These bomblets -technically called submunitions – are designed to explode when people, animals or nature inadvertently touch them. The shrapnel from their metal cover creates dangerous wounds and can cause immediate death or long term wounds. The cluster bomb is designed to keep the enemy on guard and occupied defensively in search for bomblets. But, many, perhaps most of these bomblets damage civilians.

War planners call this collateral damage. Some bombs don’t reach their target and for some reason, technological, targeting failure, or perhaps – God help us – some bombs were intentionally targeted to civilian based on someone’s esoteric intelligence. Collateral damage covers a multitude of bodies.  

When I was in Karbala, Iraqi humanitarian workers pleaded with us to do something about the cluster bombs and other unexploded ordinance that farmers in the surrounding area reported. How do cluster bombs set to go off long into the future if someone touches them, contribute to the overthrow of a hated dictator? My hosts badgered me for an answer to that. Embedded reporters ( reporters who are in bed with the people on one side) often chortled with great admiration as their reports fluttered across TV screens at the swift efficiency of the Anglo American military machine in its march to Baghdad .

Today smart bombs occasionally backed up by cluster bombs and “regular bombs” have destroyed half of Faluja and left the great Baghdad ministries in charred rubble. Telephone systems, electricity, water systems of Baghdad – all of them are in rubble. And the dictator still flutters on our TV screen. What has this gotten us? It has gotten us a Muslim world that suspects Christian civilization, whatever that is, hates us and wants to kill us. The only way to break through this impasse is with a program of radical love for people, villages, cities, nations and the earth.

These bombs, clustered and otherwise, threaten cultural and family life in the Muslim world because the youth and the unemployed are turning to nihilism masked in the religion of martyrdom. Without a way out our children here face the same choices with just a slightly different time frame, masked not by an immediate suicide of faithfulness but long term suicide of emptiness brought on by a related nihilism.
These weapons destroy small businesses across the Muslim world from Afghanistan through Iran and Iraq all the way to Algeria. And they will destroy our small businesses here as well, if not with suicide bombers then by so distorting the marketplace and the economy upon which our families are completely dependent that we will not survive the debt and mismanagement.

And what about our private and public educational institutions? What will happen to them? They are not safe either. Without a foundation of moral authenticity and ethical authority including a fundamentally different approach to anyone characterized as an enemy our education system will not survive either. In the interim, institutions will need the protection of a security industry calibrated to a permanent state of expansion. All the family foundations and recycled money from the exorbitant profits of the oil and drug industry will not save us. We will die a slow painful death. Not the kind of death that is quick and bloody from smart bombs, cluster bombs and missiles, but long painful death from a disease that slowly infects the entrails and distorts the central nervous system and evolves into a senility of understanding.

My message here is not a message arising from apocalypticism. Apocalyptic thinking comes out of a social condition of complete suppression and the experience of powerlessness. This may be the condition of parts of the Muslim world especially Palestine, Iraq and the great desert dictatorships but it is not our situation. Our situation can be rationally described. And our situation calls out for a realistic solution. Rationality, objectivity and realism are words we like to use in our scientific culture to be sure that we haven’t lost our marbles and reassure one another that our experiments have inherent integrity. In the name of reason, objectivity and realism let us break through this impasse with a program of love for people, villages, cities, nations and the earth. Up with the new paradigm.


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