The United States refuses to join with most nations of the world in placing a ban on the use of cluster bombs in warfare. Cluster munitions are air-dropped bombs or ground-fired artillery shells and rockets than contain dozens of hundreds of smaller submunitions, or “bomblets” that carpet a large areas with explosions when released. The US Air Force argues if it didn’t use cluster bombs it would be compelled to unleash large numbers of heavy bombs in order to devastate a target. Critics argue such weapons are ineffective in the type of fighting presently confronting American forces and they tend to kill too many civilians, including large numbers of children. After the Gulf War, more than 4,000 civilians were killed or injured by cluster munition duds they picked up.
Marc Garlasco, of the Human Rights Watch, says it makes no sense to continue using a weapon that will not be an important factor either in present or future wars. More than a 100 nations have signed the cluster bomb ban, but the United States continues its policy of using weapons that inordinately kill large numbers of civilians and children.