A deadly Clinton legacy

Pub date March 18, 2008
SectionNews & OpinionSectionOpinion

OPINION In her autobiography Living History (Simon and Schuster, 2003), Sen. Hillary Clinton portrays herself as an advocate for children, a defender of women and human rights. In fact, the Clintons have a long history of sacrificing the rights — and even the lives — of children for political expediency. It is time to set the record straight.

On Sept. 6, 2006, a Senate bill — a simple amendment to ban the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas — presented Sen. Clinton with a timely opportunity to protect the lives of children throughout the world.

The cluster bomb is one of the most hated and heinous weapons of modern warfare, and its primary victims are children.

Sen. Barack Obama voted for the amendment to ban cluster bombs. Clinton, however, voted with the Republicans to kill the humanitarian bill.

It’s hard to believe that Clinton was unaware of the humanitarian crisis when she voted to continue the use of cluster bombs in cities and populated areas. A United Nations weapons commission called cluster bombs "weapons of indiscriminate effect." For years the international press reported the horrific consequences of cluster bombs on civilians. On April 10, 2003, for example, Asia Times described the carnage in Baghdad hospitals: "The absolute majority of patients are women and children, victims of shrapnel, and most of all, fragments of cluster bombs."

Even after wars subside, after treaties are signed, and after belligerents return home, cluster bombs wreak havoc on civilian life. Up to 20 percent of the bomblets fail to detonate on impact, only to become landmines that later detonate on playgrounds and farmlands.

Children are drawn to cluster bomb canisters, the deadly duds that look like beer cans or toys before they explode.

Because Clinton is now taking credit for accomplishments during the White House years, when she was a partner in power, we should also look closely at Bill Clinton administration’s policy regarding landmines. The United States is the leading manufacturer of landmines. For families across the rest of the globe, landmines are buried terror. More than 100 million mines are deployed in more than 60 countries worldwide — 9 million in Angola, 10 million in Cambodia. About 20,000 M14 antipersonnel mines are buried in the mountain areas of Yong-do, South Korea. According to UN estimates, 26,000 people, mostly civilians in developing countries, are killed or mutilated by landmines every year.

The worldwide movement to ban landmines burgeoned during the Clinton years. In Dec. 1997, 137 nations more than two-thirds of the world’s countries — signed the Ottawa treaty, an agreement to ban the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of antipersonnel landmines. How did President Clinton respond?

Clinton flat-out refused to become party to the Ottawa convention. As he put it, "I could not sign in good conscience the treaty banning landmines."

In "good conscience"?!

Landmines are not good for children, Hillary.

Paul Rockwell

Paul Rockwell (rockyspad@hotmail.com) is a national columnist living in the Bay Area.