As a weapon, variations of land mines have been around since perhaps as early as the 13th century, but it was not until World War I that the technology was more or less perfected, if that can be said of weapons that mangle and mutilate the human body, and their use became common.The article goes on to say that about 75-80% of the victims of land mines are innocent civilians not involved in the conflicts that caused their placement. I have a hard time believing that we're still having this conversation in 2010, and the refusal to sign this international agreement is just one more thing that Obama isn't doing that depresses me about his administration so far.
The United States has not actively used land mines since the first Gulf War in 1991, but we still possess some 10-15 million of them, making us the third-largest stockpiler in the world, behind China and Russia. Like those two countries, we have refused to sign an international agreement banning the manufacture, stockpiling and use of land mines. Since 1987, 156 other nations have signed it, including every country in NATO. Among that 156, more than 40 million mines have been destroyed.
Just days before Obama flew to Oslo to make his Nobel Peace Prize speech, an international summit conference was held in Cartagena, Colombia, to review the progress of the treaty. The United States sent representatives and the State Department says our government has begun a comprehensive review of its current policy.
Last year 5,000 people were killed or wounded by land mines, often placed in the ground years before, during wars long since over. They kill or blow away the limbs of a farmer or child as indiscriminately as they do a soldier. But still we refuse to sign, citing security commitments to our friends and allies, such as South Korea, where a million mines fill the demilitarized zone between it and North Korea.