Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

June 20, 2014 - 1:45 pm

The Obama administration is days away from “committing America” the Ottawa Convention, an anti-mine pact that House Armed Services Committee leaders say could tie the hands of the military.

It also, noted chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), highlights how President Obama fixates on random policy actions while bigger, more urgent issues go unresolved.

Even if the Senate fails to approve the 1997 treaty, as is expected, signing the document holds Washington accountable under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which requires that signatories not act contrary to the pact’s “object and purpose.”

“It has come to our attention through informal sources that President Obama intends to commit America to the Ottawa Convention, renouncing the use of land mines by our Armed Forces. While the NSC has attempted to obfuscate the issue, they are noticeably silent in any denial that the President is committed to this course of action,” McKeon and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, said in a joint statement today. “No one can deny the painful human cost of the irresponsible use of these weapons, but committing our country to this treaty won’t do anything to repair that damage.”

“Signing the Ottawa treaty goes against the best advice our Nation’s military commanders have offered, substantially increases our risk in dangerous parts of the world, and imposes a needless financial burden on an already strapped military. It is the wrong decision for our country and it is especially problematic for key U.S. allies who do not need another reason to doubt U.S. commitment to their security,” they added.

“Many countries use landmines irresponsibly, but the United States is not one of them.  In fact, the over 400,000 mines in our inventory all either self-destruct or self-deactivate. America does more than any other country to mitigate the land mine damage done by others- spending over $2 billion on the problem since 1993. The cost to replace our mines in areas where they are essential to our defense and that of our allies, like the Korean Peninsula, will run into the hundreds of millions. The cost of an alternative defensive platform could be billions more.”

 

In March, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey called land mines “an important tool in the arsenal of the armed forces of the United States,” stressing that tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased.

The Defense Department prepared a 30-page report on the dangers of signing the land-mine ban, but its contents remain classified.

“We cannot improve upon the assessment of General Dempsey,” McKeon and Forbes said. “If the White House truly wants to lay Americans concerns on this important matter to rest, they should clearly confirm that they are following the best military advice of our uniformed leadership and opposing this treaty.”

McKeon told Fox “this is a bad decision for our military.”

“It’s a bad decision for our country. It’s a bad decision for our taxpayers,” he added.

Of Obama’s decisions, McKeon said, “some… he agonizes over for a long time, and then takes no action. Some decisions just kind of seem to come out of the blue, and he takes action. It’s hard to follow this.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Aussie - Actually what we are saying is that in 1997 a treaty was signed to ban the use of AP mines. 161 countries have signed (including Australia). The only countries using mines any more are Syria and Myanmar. The only countries that make mines are S Korea, India, Pakistan and Myanmar. As mentioned in my earlier post, most countries stopped using mines in 1991 when we figured out they were ineffective. And I've spent the last 11 years trying rid just one country of its mines. and we have perhaps 5,000,000 left in Cambodia.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, whereas most people say things in order to make a point, you've just disclaimed having one.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
As an ex-Army officer who has spent the last 11 years working in Cambodia helping clean up the mess left behind from nearly 35 years of warfare, I think I am uniquely qualified to comment on this. Almost of what we clear are anti-personnel landmines. Many of them of US manufacture. Many more of US supply.

The US has not used landmines since 1991. We have not manufactured them since 1996. We outlawed the exportation of anything in our inventory in 1994. and we are destroying the stockpiles we have.

Landmines kill. And in wartime they kill more friendly soldiers than the enemy. This is what US commanders have said about landmines:

"Former Marine Corps Commandant General Alfred Gray, Jr., has said, "We kill more Americans with our own mines than we do anyone else. We never killed more enemy with mines.... I know of no situation in the Korean War, nor in the five years I served in Southeast Asia, nor in Panama, nor in Desert Storm-Desert Shield where our use of mine warfare truly channelized the enemy and brought them into a destructive pattern."

"Lieutenant General David R. Palmer stated: "As a combat arms officer with thirty-five years in uniform either developing or teaching or implementing war-fighting doctrine, I seriously question the efficacy of antipersonnel mines. I never saw a situation where I thought the use of antipersonnel landmines would be wise militarily for American forces; nor can I envision one in theory."

"Combat experience taught these veterans that antipersonnel mines are of dubious military utility and likely to inflict a deadly "blow-back effect"-harming the very soldiers they are meant to defend. In Korea and Vietnam, for example, the main source of supply for mines for those fighting U.S. forces was captured U.S. mine stockpiles. In Korea U.S. troops were killed by their own defensive minefields. In Vietnam the U.S. Army estimated that ninety percent of the mines and booby traps used against its troops were either U.S.-made or were made with U.S. parts. One-third of all U.S. casualties in Vietnam were caused by mines and booby traps.

"The Pentagon argument that antipersonnel mines serve as an important defensive weapon that safeguards American lives in combat is undermined by its own archival resources. Mines may have defended some American lives, but the Vietnam statistics also show that U.S. mine casualties were mainly caused by U.S. mines. "I have always been convinced that landmines did more harm than good in Korea, and I know a significant number of the landmines we encountered in Vietnam were of U.S. origin," remembers Lieutenant General Hank Emerson, recipient of two Distinguished Service Crosses, five Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts. "[Antipersonnel mines] are a horrible weapon, and they caused a very high proportion of our casualties in Vietnam."

In 2010 68 member of the US Senate (R & D combined) asked the president to sign the treaty. A similar request came from the House. the 2nd signature on the letter was Rep Issa, a noted conservative.

And lastly. Every NATO country has signed the ICBL. We are the only one that has not. IF we decide to go to war somewhere and use AP mines, no one will go with us.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Apparently your saying that the American military is so inept at mine warfare compared to other nations they shouldn't be allowed to use them.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, he's just a vileprog who has found a couple of uniformed idiots willing to mouth propaganda he agrees with.

Landmines are effective - somewhere between 6 and 10 percent of US casualties in the Gulf War were caused by landmines, and maintaining the capability to deal with them is a significant load on our logistics system. But the scenarios in which they're effective aren't the ones the US military usually engages in. Landmines fundamentally deny territory to the enemy. Our doctrine is to deny territory to the enemy by, well, taking it.

That being said, when we want a minefield, we really NEED a minefield. That's why we have things like Volcano, MOPMS, ADAM, etc.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Land mines are great during a war to stop the enemy.

But, what happens when the war ends? Who will dig them up? Who will ensure that civilians won't be blown to bits while going about their daily lives?

I have an idea: if US manufacturers can put RFID chips into the undies we buy, why can't they do so with our mines? When the conflict ends, why can't we find and destroy--or, redeploy--those mines?

13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Think this through; you want the US to put radio frequency chips into our mines, whose entire purpose is predicated on staying hidden in time of war...?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama has done what he can to make the Middle East less safe and now it's time to pivot to Asia.

Progressives, prepare your think pieces for how a war on the Korean peninsula in Bush's fault.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
"McKeon told Fox “this is a bad decision for our military.”"

Which is why Dear Liar is in favor of it.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
View All