Obama's land mine decision disappoints

Posted: Friday, December 04, 2009

President Barack Obama will collect his Nobel Peace Prize on Dec. 10 - two weeks after his administration announced a decision not to join the global treaty banning land mines. He shouldn't get away without having to reconcile the glow of Oslo with that deadly, heartless and inhumane decision, another sign that the president's peace prize may have been premature.

Land mines caused more than 5,000 casualties in 2008, many of them outside current war zones.

More than a third of the victims were children. If the United States can support treaties against the use of chemical weapons and other atrocities, surely it can ban devices that keep on killing the innocent years after a war is over.

More than 150 nations, including the majority of our NATO allies, have signed the treaty.

Even Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia have signed. But not China. Not Russia. And not the United States.

It's a disgrace.

This country has a stockpile of more than 10 million land mines.

Ian Kelly, a spokesman for the State Department, told reporters that the United States "determined that we would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we signed this convention."

We have not used land mines since the 1991 Gulf War.

The notion that our security rests on them now is ludicrous - a distortion of reality unworthy of a president who claims to want to restore U.S. stature in the international community.

U.S. officials backtracked a bit on their position last week after humanitarian groups exploded in rage.

They now say the policy again is "under review."

What's left to review?

The civilized world agreed more than a decade ago that these weapons have no place in modern warfare.

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