Textron Defense Systems has built a better mousetrap:
The Sensor Fuzed Weapon is a marvel of military technology, says its maker, Textron Defense Systems. An advanced "cluster bomb," it is designed to spray 40 individual projectiles of molten copper, destroying enemy tanks across a 30-acre swath of battlefield.The problem is, cluster bombs are unpopular. Worse, a major international treaty against them is pending. The USA didn't sign it, of course -- we're not idiots -- but potential client nations did. What to do?
Textron, with the support of the Pentagon and the State Department, is mounting a campaign to derail the cluster-bomb treaty and write a new set of rules under the United Nations that would make it easier to sell its weapon around the world.And why not? Who, after all, is more qualified to define the laws of "civilized" warfare than a company that stands to benefit from selling an advanced cluster bomb?
Textron’s primary argument for scrapping the treaty is that 99 percent of the bomblets released by the Sensor Fuzed Weapon will explode in combat, leaving only a tiny amount of unexploded ordinance that could be picked up by a child or hit by a farmer’s plow. Textron calls this capability "clean battlefield operation."Emphasis added, but probably unnecessary.
As we all know, tank combat takes place in vast wastelands littered with transparent Platonic solids, so neither the 30-acre kill zone nor the "tiny amount" of leftover UXO has any real significance to civilians. If you don't believe me, do the math: Assuming you drop, say, 100 Sensor Fuzed Weapons on the Hun, there'd only be 40 unexploded bomblets left over.
Since that's practically nothing, it's little wonder that the US Air Force has bought 4,600 of these weapons, which should produce well under 2,000 pieces of UXO (while boosting tourism, ideally). And it's no wonder at all that Textron's president of business development is glutinous with self-approbation:
“Knowing that we are in no way, shape or form contributing to [civilian suffering] is really a very satisfying place to be," he said.This is a moral high ground that very few of us can hope to invade and occupy. You can't blame Textron for trying to secure its perimeter.
To that end, they've launched a PR Website that's pleadingly titled "dontbanthesolution.com." If you read it, you'll learn that it's not just the relatively small number of unexploded bomblets that makes this weapon the greatest shield against human suffering since the invention of ether. There's also the fact that it saves us from having to use "greater numbers of traditional bombs" on whatever mongrel nations are currently threatening the repose of Our Innocent Children.
Think how much less misery the unnecessary, illegal, incompetent, vicious, and apparently interminable war on Iraq would've caused if the Coalition of the Willing had restricted itself to using these well-nigh surgical munitions. Now, multiply that humanitarian benefit by every other grotesquely cynical war of choice we've launched over the last 40-odd years, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what's at stake here. As humanitarians, lovers of peace, and children of God, we owe it to the memory of our innocent victims to insist on advanced cluster bombs with no fewer than 40 submunitions, whether we're defending brutal client states, fragile political egos, oil company profits, or the moral rights of US arms manufacturers.
Now, if Textron would restrict itself to environmentally preferable components, and manufacture the Sensor Fuzed Weapon with solar-thermal energy, I'd feel even better about our new era of sustainable power.
(Photo by Ken Jarecke.)