Just when you thought President Donald Trump could not possibly sink any lower, he goes and approves the use of anti-personnel landmines, which are responsible for killing and maiming civilian around the world.
Former President Obama restricted the use of these landmines by the military and most countries have abandoned the use of them altogether. For decades, landmines have been a leftover weapon of war that continues to claim victims to this day. These victims are not the enemy soldiers the mines were designed to deter, but thousands of innocent men, women and children who are just working or playing or simply out for a stroll unaware that death or lifetime disability lurks beneath their feet.
Not since the 1991 Gulf War has the United States deployed landmines, and human rights organizations have passionately fought for their discontinued use as other organizations work to clean up and deactivate existing mines to prevent the horrors of war from continuing long after the war has ended.
And that’s why those same organizations are enraged by Trump’s decision to legalize landmines again, a decision announced by the White House this week.
“The Department of Defense has determined that restrictions imposed on American forces by the Obama administration’s policy could place them at a severe disadvantage during a conflict against our adversaries,” the White House said in a statement. “The president is unwilling to accept this risk to our troops. President Trump is rebuilding our military, and it is stronger than ever.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, of course, endorsed Trump’s move.
“At the end of day, we want to make sure that we have all the tools in our toolkit that are legally available and effective to ensure our success and to ensure the protection of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines,” he said.
The Pentagon says it plans to only use mines that can be remotely turned off or can self-destruct after a period of time. But even these mines can fail, resulting in a deathtrap under the soil.
Human rights group Handicap International expressed revulsion at the decision.
“Trump’s announcement on anti-personnel mines is a death sentence for civilians,” group advocacy director Anne Hery said. “There are acts of war that are simply outside all rules. Mines belong to that category.”
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