13.11.10

The Worst Weapon

In the latest edition of Thanh Nien Weekly newspaper, there's a great article written by Calvin Godfrey concerning the resurgence of the international push for banning the use of cluster munitions, land mines, etc. in modern warfare. He covers the current treaty being drafted and the fact that America has surprisingly refused to do away with their stockpile. He goes into detail reminding us of the kind of significant setbacks unexploded ordnance (UXO) has caused for the Southeast Asian region and hopefully what will be done to ultimately eliminate civilian casualties. Stop by the post office on Trang Tien street (currently the only place I know that carries TNW) or any other of your strategic news locations and pick up a copy of the November 12-18 edition. It's got some great articles as TNW always does!  
Below is my letter to the editor in response to "The Worst Weapon" in TNW's November 12-18th edition, we'll see what they decide to do with it...

Bưu Điện Hà Nội - Hanoi Post Office
proud distributer of Thanh Nien Weekly

Dear Thanh Nien Weekly,

After reading “The Worst Weapon” by Calvin Godfrey in issue no. 61, November 12-18, I felt moved to commend TNW for this meaningful and well-written article. I recently visited the Convention on Cluster Munitions photo exhibit held by the Royal Norwegian Embassy at Vincom City Office Tower in Hanoi to learn more about the issue of cluster munitions including international relief efforts to clear affected countries of unexploded ordnance. As an American living in Vietnam, reading U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gate’s reason for America having yet to sign the treaty to ban the use of cluster munitions, stating that they remain “legitimate weapons with a clear military purpose” namely to “engage […] targets whose precise locations are unknown” was shocking and embarrassing (Thanh Nien Weekly). In the bittersweet evolution of military technology, where night vision and laser targeting are commonplace in a country’s arsenal, continuing to support and justify the use of this kind of outdated weapon which has most likely killed just as many if not more innocent civilians as enemy soldiers is an unacceptable position to take.


Gates: cluster munitions are "legitimate weapons with a clear military purpose"

The ravages of numerous wars remain a part of daily life here in Hanoi as well as throughout the country and serve as solemn reminders to residents and visitors alike. Old men in faded green army uniforms pedaling bicycles through the neighborhood, people missing arms and legs sleeping on benches in the park, and crumbling buildings with bullet holes and collapsed walls are all phenomena I have yet to adjust to, for in America these historical scars have not littered the country in the same way Vietnam has experienced. I feel very deeply for the citizens of Southeast Asia who leave their homes every day for the fields, at risk of not coming home in the evening. For all the children going out to play hide and seek or climb trees around their village, as children all around the world do, and those unfortunate ones who discover a lethal toy along the way.


Army helmets are still commonplace, one of many signs that the
Vietnam-American war  has not yet completely disappeared here in Hanoi

I am pleased to see this newspaper revisiting an issue long dormant for the developed world but one that has constantly plagued the countryside of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand for decades. I hope America will soon join in the movement with the same enthusiasm it had in cluster munitions fifty years ago.

"A scrap metal collector works in Quang Tri Province"
A lucrative but more dangerous job than rice farming
Photo exhibit held by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Hanoi

Thank you for the informative articles you present to your English speaking audience every week concerning relevant issues written with a passion that lives up to the name of the Vietnam Youth Federation.

-Zac Herman 


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