“Now that the use, transfer, and manufacturing of cluster bombs has become more stigmatized in the U.S. (as the Pentagon feared would happen if too many representatives supported the amendment to suspend their transfer to Saudi Arabia), the time is ripe to stigmatize them further. Congress and the President can take steps to do just that. Lawmakers should speak out in the media and on the floor of Congress in favor of joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and President Obama should commit the U.S. to accede to the convention.”
On Tuesday, Textron — the last U.S. weapons company making cluster bombs, a deadly indiscriminate weapon that’s made headlines in the past year for killing and maiming hundreds of civilians in Yemen’s civil war — announced that it will no longer manufacture them. A spokesperson for the company explained their reasoning in business terms:
Historically, sensor-fuzed weapon (a type of cluster bomb) sales have relied on foreign military and direct commercial international customers for which both executive branch and congressional approval is required… The current political environment has made it difficult to obtain these approvals.
Let’s unpack what they meant by “current political environment.” Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International both documented that a U.S.-backed Saudi-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 had used U.S.-made cluster bombs on civilian areas of Yemen, use which amounted to war crimes given the…
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