U.S. should sign land mine ban

December 10, 2009 — by Sulmaan Hassan

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the U.S. has not used land mines since the Gulf War, yet the it still remains the only member in NATO not to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. Why not turn practice into policy?

It is common knowledge that land mines maim, kill and sow havoc in the lives of innocent civilians. A report made this month by the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines found that the weapons remain buried in more than 70 countries and killed at least 1,266 people and wounded 3,891 last year. Land mines are the preferred weapons of tyrants and extremists. Democracies have no business using these dictator-wielded weapons. Planting land mines should be a crime against humanity and thus condemned in no uncertain terms.

Ian Kelly, a spokesman for the State Department, justified the decision on the grounds that “we would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we signed this convention.” About whom is he speaking?

According to the Mercury News, more than 150 countries have agreed to the Mine Ban Treaty’s provisions to end the production and use of land mines. There is no reason to choose the moral low-ground here. Modern warfare doesn’t even require the use of land mines; there are other, less brutal means to achieve border protection.

In December 2004, 12-year-old Jonathan Marin Blandon took a seat on a nearby park bench in Colombia when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off. The doctors tried to save both his eyes. He had five operations in his left eye, which has now been fixed, but they couldn’t save the right eye. Both sides of his face have had surgery and implants. Worst of all, Blandon lost his left arm. This incident is a perfect example backing the severity of the land mine issue. Innocent civilians, like Blandon, are forced to sacrifice part, if not all of their lives for the selfishness and paranoia of countries that use land mines.

Incidents like Blandon’s should strike a chord in the hearts of countries all over the world. Nations, namely the U.S., should make it their initiative to prevent situations like these from occurring. Having recently won the nobel peace prize, Obama’s decision doesn’t seem to contribute to his “peace” prize. The decision to ban these true weapons of mass destruction now stands as “under review,” but there should be nothing to review, as this decision should have been made years ago.

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