On Hidden Bombs, An Overdue Obama Chore

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This tells us the following…

SAID JABAR, Iraq — Homemade bombs go off almost every day in Iraq , usually targeting military and police convoys in cities such as Baghdad and Mosul . It’s been suspected for years that insurgents harvest at least some of their explosives from the contaminated soil in places such as Said Jabar.

U.S. military officials estimated in 2007 that 15 percent of the charges for improvised explosive devices — the ubiquitous homemade bombs used to attack American forces — came from land mines and other unexploded munitions.

So Officials in the Ministry of Environment and at companies that receive foreign aid to clear mines ask why the military waited until December to ban clearing as a way to halt the trafficking.

Alaa Abul Majeed , who runs the government-licensed de-mining company in Basra with funds from the United Nations Development Program, charged that regional military staffers had exaggerated the trafficking concerns in hopes of getting a cut from the international aid budget. The commanders in Baghdad go along because they don’t want to seem soft on insurgents, he said.

The trouble, Majeed said, is “all the international donors are thinking of pulling out, because for five months they’ve been getting reports that say ‘zero mines cleared.’ “

The Maliki government in action, my fellow prisoners…

I realize there’s only so much influence we have on matters internal to Iraq like this, but somehow I think we can bring more than a little pressure to bear on this if we desired. And one way to do that would be to practice what we preach a bit more.

As noted here, the U.S. retains the use of land mines and, under Dubya, abrogated its commitment to sign the land mine treaty by 2006, a commitment made by President Clinton in 1997 (and as noted here, the U.S. also refused to sign a ban on cluster munitions passed last year, even though we have “essentially obeyed” all the elements of the treaty).

Making speeches in Cairo to try and reach out to people who may already be our enemies or could oppose us one day is nice. But telling your audience that we will do our part to rid the world of these monstrous devices (thereby putting the onus on our enemies, to say nothing of doing more to protect our service people) is even better.

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