Pentagon decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine should worry all NATO allies

Jul 10, 2023

Call it a Cold War reflex, or just plain old hypocrisy.

Answering yet another plea for military equipment and weapons from Ukraine, The Pentagon announced it will be sending cluster munitions as part of the American military package, despite the weapons being banned by Canada and several NATO allies due to serious humanitarian concerns.

Cluster munitions are controversial due to the indiscriminate manner in which the weapon is deployed, breaking apart to spread a cluster of explosive devices over a large area. But the weapon has a significant downside; often the scattered devices don’t always explode, which sharply increases the chances of innocent civilians being killed. This is called the “dud rate” as unexploded ordinance, or duds, become the future statistics of collateral damage. If the dud rate is more than 1%, it is illegal for the United States to export cluster munitions. America says the munitions it is sending has a dud rate of less than 1%.

The Biden administration has said the move to use cluster munitions was in response to Russia using them during their initial invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This quid pro quo of warfare harkens back to Cold War mentality, where the Soviet Union and the United States used the mutually assured destruction aspect of nuclear weapons to scare each other into never using them.

That President Biden is citing Russia’s use of cluster munitions as an excuse for Ukraine to use them is a biblical argument, rather than an argument embedded inside a deference to the views of NATO allies. This places American domestic policy in direct conflict with the policies of NATO countries, testing American influence and the endurance of countries like Canada who have wildly different policies than America.

As mentioned, it’s also just run-of-the-mill, every day hypocrisy.

There are over 100 nations worldwide who comprise the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Canada is one of the countries who signed the treaty, while America, Russia, and Ukraine are not signatories.

One of the main reasons this issue is taken seriously by so many countries is because of the disproportionate amount of children who are killed by duds. Often, these bomblets are mistaken for children’s toys, picked up by kids who are then killed once the bomblet detonates.

American officials keep on citing Russia’s use of cluster munitions as the main reason for America to export them to Ukraine, but unless allies are brave enough to risk political capital by openly criticizing Ukraine and America, NATO’s influence will inevitably suffer.

Contributing Writers

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