Cluster Bombs: Has America surrendered the moral high ground in Ukraine?

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LONDON, UK – In a world scarred by conflict and the use of horrific weapons, there was a rare success in 2008.

By Robert Moore  – ITV News Correspondent

More than one hundred nations decided that cluster bombs should be banned, and they signed up to an international treaty, the UN Convention on Cluster Munitions.

It was a triumph for those who advocate for rules in warfare.  The problem with cluster munitions is that many of the “bomblets” that scatter across a target area do not explode on impact.

They lie dormant for years.

Until an unsuspecting child picks it up, perhaps decades after the conflict has ended.

The cluster bomb is the weapon that keeps on maiming and killing, year after year, in country after country. It isn’t just soldiers who are the victims – but children, farmers, shepherds, and those who work in de-mining.

So that is why it is quite shocking to many liberal activists and European officials that America has decided to send large quantities of cluster munitions to Ukraine. It raises the question of whether the US can hold the moral high ground.

Will other armies – or terrorist groups – now argue that a precedent has been set and fire their own cluster munitions?

It was a debate I had last night with the chief Pentagon spokesman, General Patrick Ryder. You can listen to our conversation here and decide if he successfully justifies the White House decision.

For my money, I am not convinced.  Yes, Russia has extensively and indiscriminately used cluster bombs in Ukraine.  Yes, Ukrainian forces are desperately short of artillery shells.  And it is true the counter-offensive is struggling to break through Russian defences.

But Ukraine – and America – will win by maintaining public support and having a moral narrative about the conflict.

That is now in jeopardy.  There will be a price to pay for the cluster bomb decision.

It will cause deep unease within the Western alliance. Twenty-three of the 31 NATO countries have signed the ban that America is now trashing (the US, Russia and Ukraine never signed the Convention).

Years from now, in a field or on a hillside, a curious Ukrainian child will pick up a strange looking metal object with American markings and it will be the last thing they do.

The Ukraine war is guaranteed to kill for generations to come, long after a ceasefire or a peace settlement has been signed.

Source: ITV