This week US bombers and warplanes began dropping cluster bombs near front line Taliban troops in Afghanistan. On Monday US attacks killed eight people near the village of Heart, one of whom died after picking up an unexploded”bomblet” left behind by a cluster bomb. The UN and humanitarian groups have urged the US to stop dropping the devastating weapons, and some have called for international laws to outlaw their use.
To get a sense of just what cluster bombs do and the legacy they leave behind, we might look at Laos. From 1964-1974the U.S. waged a covert war against Laos, dropping an estimated 6 million to 7 million bombs on Laos, plus huge butunknown numbers of antipersonnel bomblets and killing hundreds of thousands. Nearly thirty years later the people ofLaos are still suffering and dying from US bombs.
- Mark Hiznay, Senior Researcher in the arms division at Human Rights Watch.
- Bruce Franklin, professor of history at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ; author of ??Vietnam and OtherAmerican Fantasies.
- Lou McGrath, director of the Mines Advisory Group, has worked in Laos with the National UnexplodedOrdinance Program, which tries to find and remove mines and cluster bombs dropped by the US.