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2008年12月19日 (金)


(Mainichi Japan) December 18, 2008

Peace movement has overwhelmed cluster bomb cynicism


 ◇平和行動が冷笑主義を打倒 「一人一人の歴史」裏付け


"Even if you cry out against weapons, they'll never disappear. There is no point in enacting a convention without the participation of major countries. That's the reality of the world." Some people tend to have such a warped view of global trends, and criticize other people's actions without taking a stand on their own. Such cynicism is prevailing everywhere. However, there are people who have overcome this cynicism, as shown in the signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.



There was no progress on restrictions on cluster bombs even after years of negotiations during the Geneva arms reduction talks. It was two years ago that the Oslo Process on cluster bombs was launched after being separated from the Geneva talks.


I wonder what progress those involved in the process had initially expected.


It would have been impossible to ban the use of cluster bombs and the number of victims would have only increased if negotiations had been left to the discretion of diplomats who place priority on their national interests.


Those who negotiated the Convention on Cluster Munitions had set a deadline for signing it by the end of 2008, and attempted to persuade politicians from various countries and the public to support the treaty. Their actions, instead of cynical remarks, led to the signing of the convention.


At the signing ceremony held in Oslo on Dec. 3, Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the two roads joined into one on that day.


The two roads referred to the use of cluster bombs and the international humanitarian law calling for a ban on killing civilians. The roads did not only join each other. International law made the road for bombs a dead end.


We must evaluate the claims by those who use such weapons. In March 2003, during the Iraq War, a colonel responsible for the U.S. Air Force's strategy held a press conference at the Department of Defense. When asked to what extent the military will accept civilian casualties, he responded that commanders will consider whether their operations are worthy of the casualties.



In other words, the U.S. launched attacks after making a compromise between orders to win by all means and demands that civilian casualties should be limited. Balancing between military needs and civilian casualties is a typical excuse made by military commanders.


How can operations that kill civilians be justified? Ibaraki University Professor Emeritus Shinichi Arai, 82, who analyzed the thoughts of those who launch attacks in his book, "Kubaku no Rekishi" ("The history of air strikes"), points to "the mentality of Imperialism" and "the effects of terrorism."


Aircraft invented by the Wright brothers (Wilbur and Orville) in 1903 were soon used in war in 1911 when an Italian plane dropped hand grenades during a fight over the colonization of Libya, which was part of Turkey's territory. It was the world's first air strike using an aircraft.


It had been believed that air strikes by civilized countries on what they considered "uncivilized" countries were effective in the fight for colonization and suppressing uprisings by local residents in areas they attempted to colonize. It was based on racism in which developed countries would not care if what they considered inferior people who lived in uncivilized areas lost their lives in war. And such racism has not died down.


"Massacres carried out in the name of 'air strikes' will continue as long as there is a framework allowing colonization. The mentality of Imperialism harbored by countries that attack other nations must be eliminated," Arai says.


"The effects of terrorism" refers to the idea that countries can win war if they destroy civilians' daily lives, terrorize them and cause them to lose their will to fight.


I think that the U.S., which used cluster bombs in attacks on Iraq, harbored the mentality of Imperialism and believed in the effects of terrorism.


Everybody hates cruel wars. However, human beings have not yet grown mature enough to realize complete world peace in which no wars are permitted. Although they have managed to agree to set rules on wars. Bans on attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks that do not distinguish between military targets and civilians have been incorporated in international conventions.


Even if politicians or military commanders claim the war they wage is just, they are condemned and held responsible for waging unjustifiable war if they deliberately attack civilians. Human beings have managed to reach this level of maturity.


Unfortunately, these rules are sometimes broken. However, the types of weapons that people have banned have been steadily increasing. They include chemical and biological weapons and anti-personnel landmines. I regard the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the latest results of arm reduction efforts made by human beings.


A sense of stagnation has been spreading throughout the world since the financial crisis erupted in September. Under such circumstances, people tend to hide in comfortable nutshells of cynicism.


"Where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people -- yes, we can," President-elect Barack Obama said in a speech he made shortly after he won the U.S. presidential race in November.


The U.S., which has used the largest number of cluster munitions of all countries that possess such weapons, has obligations to sign the convention and extend assistance to victims.


Individuals who can break the barrier of cynicism can change history. It was demonstrated by the singing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the U.S. presidential election. (By Yoshinori Nakai, Editorial Writer)



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