Cluster Bombs and Condi's Fatal Birth Pangs
By Ahmed Amr
"What we did was insane and monstrous; we covered entire towns in cluster bombs." Unidentified IDF officer quoted in Ha'aretz
The criminal use of cluster bombs in Lebanon might just end up as another one of those peculiar Israeli war crimes that get buried without an investigation or a final determination of facts and where no one is ever held accountable.
At issue is the one million plus cluster bomblets fired by the Israeli army in its 34-day war of choice against Lebanon. Cluster bombs are unique munitions. For one thing, they have a tendency to scatter over wide areas. Another interesting fact is their failure rate - a very high percentage of them do not explode on impact. Like land mines, the unexploded bomblets bide their time and lay in wait for their next victim.
In marketing their lethal cluster products, the American manufacturers claim a failure rate of 15 percent. However, the United Nations estimates that as many as 40 percent of the Israeli cluster bomblets that rained down on South Lebanon this summer failed to explode. The BBC - a media outlet has become very timid in handling controversial subjects related to the Jewish state - reports that "25% to 30% of the Israeli cluster bombs failed to detonate on impact, a far higher dud rate than expected. You find them on staircases and in gardens and hanging in the peach trees. "
The discrepancy in failure rates can have a variety of explanations. It might be that the American manufacturers tend to exaggerate the success rate of their lethal products. Lets face it - the kind of company that sells implements of death and destruction designed to maim and kill innocent civilians is not exactly averse to doing a little deceptive advertising for its products.
But there is another rational explanation. Not all the cluster bombs in Israel's arsenal are produced in the United States. Israeli corporations manufactured a yet to be determined portion of the estimated 500,000 unexploded murder machines that are strewn among Lebanese olive trees and peach orchards. So, it could be that the Israeli variety has a higher failure rate. Which brings up yet another question. Given Israel's sophisticated military industry - are Israeli cluster bombs designed to have higher failure rate? As tactical weapons, are they designed for an entirely different purpose than their American equivalents? Has Israel taken American cluster bomb technology and modified it to create a new ordinance that gives the IDF a means of laying land mines by firing artillery shells?
The answers to these questions are vital to understanding why Israel fired 90% of the cluster bombs in the last three or four days of the conflict. That vital statistic comes from David Shearer, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Lebanon. As Shearer points out - Israel's behavior was "outrageous because by that stage the conflict had been largely resolved in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 1701."
Regardless of the American manufacturer's best marketing efforts, the Israeli military establishment must have had a fairly accurate estimate of the expected failure rates of their cluster bomb arsenal. Maybe the Israelis have yet to master a way to reduce cluster bomb failures. But it obviously requires less technical skills to purposely degrade the performance of a weapon system.
So, it is entirely conceivable that the IDF deliberately increased the percentage of bomblets that fail to detonate on impact with the intent of leaving virtual minefields that are not only buried in the soil but hang on tree branches.
As for the decision to intensify the amount of cluster ordinance to drop in the last 72 hours - such a radical shift in strategy required significant deliberations between senior IDF staff officers and Olmert's war cabinet. Given the amount of overt American/Israeli coordination in this latest assault on Lebanon, there is also a high probability that Condi Rice was intimately involved in the decision making process. She certainly seemed to enjoy the whole bloody mess.
It's worth noting that Israel continues to withhold information from the UN that would assist in clearing cluster bombs and minefields. Part of the reason is that Tel Aviv is satisfied that the unexploded munitions continue to kill and maim innocent Lebanese civilians. But there could be an even more sinister rationale. It has to do with how targets where chosen and at what time and what date. If you combine that information with the kind of cluster bombs and determine that certain sites where deliberately showered with Israeli-designed bomblets designed to have a high failure rate - you end up with a close and shut case of a deliberate premeditated war crime.
For the record, Israel has not denied that it fired the bulk of its cluster munitions in the last days of the war - it just hasn't bothered to explain why. Once again, David Shearer points out the obvious: "We know these munitions have a failure rate and it seems to me extraordinary that they were fired off in the last hours of the war into areas where civilian populations were known to be going."
None of this is rocket science. All the information is readily available - much of it has already been reported and verified. Some of the statistics have yet to be compiled because it will take over a year to clear the unexploded cluster bomblets. But there must be a way to determine the percentage of 'failures' that were designed and manufactured in Israel.
There is one woman who has the power to make the Israelis come clean. In the Middle East they call her Condi - 'Birth Pang Condi' - a delusional sinister spinster with a nasty habit of spilling the blood of Arab babies. By her own admission, she discussed and supported Israel's plan to bomb Southern Lebanon 'early on' - long before any IDF soldiers had been abducted. The entire world witnessed her exert the considerable influence of her office to subvert UN efforts to bring an early end to the carnage.
Unfortunately, the psycho from Birmingham can't call the Israelis to account because she was a full partner in the cluster bomb crime. Among the fruits of her delusional birth pangs are hundreds of thousands of unexploded cluster bomblets that will be killing innocent Lebanese civilians for years to come.
Now, if Condi had stolen some stationary and a stapler from the State Department or figured out a way to get real birth pangs via an illicit affair with a janitor - we would never hear the end of it. But when Condi's birth pangs only inflict cluster bomb injuries and fatalities on some innocent child of an innocent Lebanese mother - no one seems to notice. The press paid more attention to her shoe buying expedition when New Orleans was sinking.
Condi Rice might be a bit old for birth pangs - but she's young enough to spend the next thirty or forty years worrying about war crimes charges that have no statute of limitation. All we need to do is keep her cluster bomb file open indefinitely. Never forgive her and never forget her participation in the serial Israeli war crimes against the people of Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com
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