By John F. Di Leo -
Reflections on Barack Obama's legacy...
While there is nothing particularly “happy” about warfare, some aspects are even more distasteful than others. There must be shooting in battles; there must be conquest of land; this is what warfare is made of. But some tactics go too far… such as mines.
In the 1990s, for example, the Ottawa Convention sought to put a global end to the use of mines – both land and sea varieties – an aspect of warfare that still costs several thousand lives per year worldwide, even long after the wars in which they were used have ended.
In warfare, the value of a mine is, of course, the fact that it can be left behind, without an army or navy contingent remaining in place to operate it. You just sow mines in a bay or harbor, or plant landmines on a valuable territory or along a border, and nobody dares return there without quickly becoming a casualty. Often horrific, but tactically advantageous. Sometimes justifiable if you're the one on the right side in the war in question. Particularly horrible if you’re not.
But the biggest problem with mines is what happens after the war is over. Since mines have no expiration date, they remain a danger forever, decades after peace treaties are signed. There are still mines, dating back to WWII and other conflicts of half a century to a century ago, long-forgotten, awaiting the day when an innocent fishing trawler or pleasure boat, construction crew or vacationing family on a hike, will stumble into them with fatal consequences.