President Obama’s effort to effective emasculate the international ban on cluster bombs failed today, when at least 50 nations including Britain filed objections. Human rights campaigners had been condemning the US effort, saying that it would be a major back-track from the formal ban.
The US version would have simply “regulated” the manufacture of cluster munitions without banning them, and was supposed by Russia, China and Israel, all of whom still have such weapons in their arsenals.
The US said the ban makes “no sense” and that the change from a ban to a regulation would have had a “substantial humanitarian impact on the ground.” Its opponents agreed on that account, but said the impact wouldn’t be in a good way.
Though Britain was among those who already signed the ban, their objection to the US changes was still something of a surprise, as the nation rarely openly challenges US policy in international forums.