These issues are important. Yesterday I edited a paper that my daughter had written on Landmines as part of her International Baccalaureate curriculum. For five years she has been involved voluntarily in working to educate people about the civilian deaths and destruction caused by the use of this war munition and raising funds to help remove unexploded landmines. She became interested in this issue following her brother's volunteer work as part of Students Against Landmines.
The news about Israel's use of US-made cluster bombs in Lebanon (violating an agreement that they not be used in civilian aras) is just one more incident in a continuum of the historical use of this type of warfare dating back to Julius Casear in 52 BC. Cluster munitions drop a bomb which spreads smaller bomblets over a wide geographical area. Usually 10% remain unexploded and threaten civilians. Those used in Lebanon, because of their age, have an unexploded rate of about 40%. The unexploded bomblets are causing injuries and deaths to innocent victims, such as children, who pick them up out of curiosity.
Her paper covered the history of landmines and she wrote about the first documented use of them in war. When the Romans, under Caear, fought the Gauls under Vercingetorix in 52 BC, Caesar used three types of anti-personnel landmines (goads, lilies and caltrops), reducing the Romans' need to fight and providing a new defense mechanism. Two of the sources she used in researching were: The Devil's Garden: A History of Landmines and The History of Landmines. My daughter can quote the statistic on how many innocent victims, many of them children, are injured when the fighting is over. I think she said that every seven seconds someone is injured or killed by landmines. She wonders, "if Casaer hadn't set the precendent, would we have this problem today?"
Human Rights Watch has information on cluster bombs and landmines. There are organizations that provide information and work to remove them, such as The International Campaign to Ban Landmines. There are 84 countries plus 8 areas not identified as independent states that have landmines or unexploded ordinance. The U.S. is one of the countries that manufactures and uses landmines. William Arkin looks at the issues involved in the use of cluster bombs.
I try to raise my children to make their community a better place and to make a difference. I'm proud of my daughter's work on this issue that injures, maims and kills innocent victims.