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"Qabila, aged 10, pictured learning to walk with a prosthetic leg at a Red Cross hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, 31 October 2011." UK Department for International Development photo

Donald Trump's goal of reversing everything Barack Obama ever did is set to take a bold new step soon, with the reversal of Obama's 2014 directive mostly getting the US military out of the business of using or stockpiling landmines. The order was a step toward bringing the US a little closer to compliance with a 1997 international treaty banning the devices, which kill or maim between 15,000 to 20,000 civilians annually, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. And despite his order, Obama did not have the US join the 1997 agreement, also known as the Ottawa Convention, because the US military still thinks it needs landmines on the Korean Peninsula to deter a North Korean invasion of the south.

Obviously, since Obama did it, it has to be overturned, so yesterday Vox's Alex Ward reported that an "internal State Department cable" says Trump will rescind Obama's order that the US "not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines (APL) in the future, including to replace expiring stockpiles." Trump's order also does away with the part of Obama's order banning the deployment of the deadly things anywhere outside Korea, so look forward to landmines coming to a conflict zone near you!

None of the reporting we've looked at mentions it, but we can't help but speculate Trump may also have a stiffy for mining the US-Mexico border. He's almost certainly been told civilized countries don't do that, just like they don't dig moats full of alligators and poisonous snakes. But Trump got out of the civilization business a long time ago, when he advocated torture during the 2016 campaign and salivating at the thought of shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs' blood. If Breitbart commenters want landmines at the border, then Trump wants them too. When he eventually talks about it at a rally, remember, Yr Wonkette called it first.


The new policy seeks to remove the US from its partial alignment with the international consensus against landmines that emerged in the '80s and '90s in the aftermath of the Vietnam conflict, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and numerous bloody wars in Africa. As recently as 2004, the UN reported that half of landmine casualties in Cambodia were children, who were still being injured or killed by mines left 20 years before by the Khmer Rouge.

Clearly, Trump has no use for such sentimentality, which should be discarded along with other quaint relics of the 1990s such as AOL installation CDs, the "Rachel" haircut, and "Republicans occasionally being capable of shame."

The cable claims we need to bring back weapons that can't distinguish between friend, foe, or 10-year-old girl crossing a farm field, because what about the safety of America's Brave Troops? Besides, landmines have gotten a lot smarter now!

The United States will not sacrifice American service members' safety [...] particularly when technologically advanced safeguards are available that can allow landmines to be employed responsibly to ensure our military's warfighting advantage, while also limiting the risk of unintended harm to civilians.

The cable says the USA will continue to "prohibit the use of any 'persistent' landmines," and will limit development and deployment to landmines that will either self-destruct or deactivate themselves after a time. So the new munitions are intended to be dangerous for a limited time, and presumably few civilians would wander into the combat areas where they'd be deployed. Probably. Maybe. So the risks of mines blowing off kids' legs ten years after America's buggered off from some future war of choice should be substantially reduced. Unless something goes wrong with the safety features. But what are the odds of modern high-tech weapons malfunctioning?

CNN says the decision to bring back landmines "came about following a review launched in 2017 by then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis," which supposedly found that not being able to strew landmines around might harsh the troops' mellow. That contradicts previous Defense Department studies cited by Rob Berschinski, who in the Obama White House coordinated landmine policy for the National Security Council. On Twitter Thursday, Berschinsky said it wasn't just namby-pamby concern about "farmers blowing themselves up" or "maimed children" or "NGOs calling attention to kids missing hands and feet" that led the US to largely put away its landmines outside the Korean DMZ:

At Vox, Ward notes that

it's unclear whether the military even wanted this change in the first place. Multiple experts — including US defense officials — said that the US military has clearly found anti-personnel landmines not to be that helpful in war.

"The United States has not used landmines in a new theater of military operation for nearly thirty years — since 1991 — yet it continues to stockpile millions of these obsolete weapons," Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, told me.

So perhaps this is just one more fuck-you to Obama policies. It may also be part of Trump's overall belief that America needs to return to the technologies of the Good Old Days, like big gas-guzzling cars he wrongly believes were safer, and toilets that wasted water like God intended.

Also, he thinks we should look into bringing back cavalry charges. Generals look GREAT on horseback. As long as they don't blunder into a minefield.

[Vox / CNN / UNICEF report / UNICEF landmine fact sheet / Photo: Kanishka Afshari/FCO UK Department for International Development]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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