Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Modern Miracles-Rain for Aleppo

Aleppo, 2016. "Planes are more than birds, and bombs are more than rain," one resident said of the Syrian air force's renewed blitz. (CNN; 11/18/2016).

It is written that Fire and Brimstone fell from the sky and destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
But then it was a wrathful god laying waste to cities populated with only sinners and immoral men and women.  Now we live in a New Age and the men without morals, mercy or a shred of goodness are not to be wiped from the earth but are instead the ones sending the planes and dropping the bombs and the canisters of gas on the sleeping cities below. Today, we don't need holy books to tell us what is happening, as we can watch the bombs fall live on small flickering screens until we turn them off or simply scroll past the images of dead infants, and dust-covered, bloody children and crying men, mutilated soldiers and buildings that aren't buildings anymore. 

I watched the you tube video of cluster bombs falling at night in the Syrian village of Aleppo.
I thought they were strangely beautiful to look at, and they reminded me of the shooting stars my children and I had stayed up late to watch when the Perseid meteor shower occurred earlier this year.  But I knew these were bombs and not meteorites and the footage on the news that followed was horrifying and I was overcome by an incredible sense of shame and helplessness in the wake of image after image of the violence and death being showered on these poor, trapped residents in a city besieged in a modern war by forces with no qualms about the killing of  unarmed residents using chemical weapons or through indiscriminate bombing raids with weapons that will kill large number of civilians as well as their intended military targets. 

**Cluster bombs are weapons that can be ground fired or dropped from aircraft that contain multiple (from as few as 4 to 100's) of smaller explosive devices that spread to detonate over a large area. They are designed to kill multiple troops and to destroy and disable military vehicles but they are plagued by a high failure rate where large numbers of the small and sometimes toylike bomblets do not detonate. It is estimated that 40% of casualties from cluster weapons are civilians, and a large percentage of these are children--during attacks and often after hostilities have ceased. "Cluster munitions pose an immediate threat to civilians during conflict by randomly scattering submunitions or bomblets over a wide area. They continue to pose a threat post-conflict by leaving remnants, including submunitions that fail to explode upon impact becoming de facto landmines. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It also requires destruction of stockpiles, clearance of areas contaminated by remnants, and victim assistance. More than 115 states have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions and are working to implement its provisions. Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition and contributes to its annual Cluster Munition Monitor report. " (Human Rights Watch).

***The cluster bombs falling on Aleppo are being dropped by both Syrian government and Russian forces (although they both deny it) but these images could easily have been of conflicts in Yemen, or Afghanistan, or Lebanon.
There is an international ban since 2008 on the use of Cluster bombs but countries that make them or have large stockpiles, or use them regularly in conflicts have not adhered to the international accord. While 118 countries have signed the agreement, the USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, Israel, and many other countries are NOT signatories to the accord and continue to make and use these munitions during conflicts.

The last US manufacturer of Cluster weapons has only this year declared that they will stop manufacturing them in 2017 (but will honor existing orders and deliveries) citing among other things, falling demand.

1 comment:

  1. A good title acknowledging the obscenity of what is happening in Aleppo as we are forced to look on helpless.