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Unexploded ordinance, from Laos to Iraq and today's secret wars

By NicolasDavies - Posted on 04 September 2010

Please read this great article by Melody Kemp about the effect of unexploded cluster-bombs in Laos:

In its secret war against Laos, the U.S. dropped a ton of bombs for each man, woman and child in the country, more than all the bombs dropped on Germany and Japan combined in World War Two, without ever acknowledging it was even at war. 30% of cluster munitions failed to explode, and at least 20,000 people have died horrible deaths and thousands more have suffered amputations (often without anesthetics) when the bomblets exploded years later.

In the course of its war in Iraq, the US has released at least 2 million cluster bomblets. The Pentagon claims that its "dud rate" is now only 16%, but this would still mean that we have left at least 300,000 unexploded bomblets all over Iraq. Human Rights Watch surveyed a small area around Hilla soon after the US invasion, and already found at least 500 civilian casualties caused by cluster munitions.

Melody Kemp's good news is that there is increased diplomatic pressure on the US to pay reparations to clean up its unexploded ordinance in Laos and to compensate its victims, and that manufacturers may be held responsible as well as the US government, based on a similar agreement with Vietnam. So, what about Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Colombia, the Philippines and the rest of the 75 countries where the US is currently conducting what senior US officers refer to as "disguised, quiet, media-free" military operations? (

Remember that the entire war against Laos was precisely this kind of "disguised, quiet, media-free" war, but that secret wars are no secret to their victims.

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