Learning About Cluster Bombs the Hard Way

A mother gives her own very personal reason for urging the Obama administration to take a step that the United States has thus far failed to take — signing a treaty banning the extremely deadly weapons known as “cluster bombs.”

When the [U.S.] military informed me of [the author’s son] Travis’ death, they did not tell me that the “explosive device” was a U.S. cluster submunition; men in Travis’ unit filled in that blank. It was the first I had heard of cluster bombs. In the ensuing five years, I have learned enough to know that I do not want my country using these weapons to protect me — or our soldiers.

Cluster bombs scatter hundreds of small, unguided explosives over an area as big as several football fields. Usually, some of these small bombs, or submunitions, fail to explode when they hit the ground. These mini-bombs lie in wait like land mines, sometimes for years, unable to distinguish between a soldier and a child.

About 100 countries are gathering in Oslo for another round of signings tomorrow. Having fully exhausted any excuses not to join the ban, the United States will hopefully not miss the next occasion to add its voice of opposition to these horrific weapons.