The President has canceled the Obama administration's policy to prohibit [the] United States military forces from employing anti-personnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula.
It appears that United States President Donald Trump is gearing up for World War III. On Friday, the White House announced that Trump has officially rolled back Obama-era landmine policies, therefore allowing the US military to freely use the cruel weapons. Landmines have been banned by 160 countries due to their history of killing and wounding civilians. Allegedly, the decision was long overdue and was approved by the Pentagon following an in-depth review. Unsurprisingly, anti-landmine campaigners have condemned the move. Nonetheless, the Trump administration stands by the President's policy change, CNN reports.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham announced the decision in an official statement. She affirmed, "The President has canceled the Obama administration's policy to prohibit United States military forces from employing anti-personnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula. The Department of Defense has determined that restrictions imposed on American forces by the Obama Administration's policy could place them at a severe disadvantage during a conflict against our adversaries. The President is unwilling to accept this risk to our troops." According to the Trump administration, "the strategic environment has changed since" Obama's ban on landmines, prompting the swift change in policy.
Former President Barack Obama committed to restricting the use of landmines in 2014 when he signed the United States up to adhere to the 1997 Ottawa Convention. This convention is an international agreement that bans the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. Obama-era policies promised to replace landmines in the United States stockpile following their expiration in addition to destroying landmine stockpiles not required for the defense of South Korea. At the time, the policy move was highly praised by several anti-landmine campaigners.
These campaigners have come forward to strongly condemn President Trump's decision. Jody Williams, who received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize together with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, asserted in an official statement, "Mr. Trump's policy rollback is a step toward the past, like many of his other decisions, and sends exactly the wrong message to those working to rid the world of the scourge of landmines." But members of the Trump administration are unrelenting. Even prior to the policy change being announced, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper defended it.
He stated, "I think landmines are an important tool that our forces need to have available to them in order to ensure mission success, and in order to reduce risk to forces. That said, in everything we do, we also want to make sure that these instruments, in this case, landmines, also take into account both the safety of employment and the safety to civilians and others after a conflict." The new policy will allow the operational use of landmines, but only if they have a 30-day self-destruction or self-deactivation feature. This feature is expected to prevent civilian casualties.
There is some suspicion that the policy move was emboldened by the United States' military activities in the Middle East. Nonetheless, one of the main reasons behind the change is the prospect of a major conflict with a "great power" enemy such as Russia or China. Victorino Mercado, who is performing the duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities, acknowledged the fact that landmines are an "emotional" issue, but asserted, "You can take a situation where in the early stages we could be extremely outnumbered and by adding this capability and to be able to shape that battlespace, that's an enormous equalizer and that could allow more (US) forces to flow in." Sadly, this move only propels the United States as a warmonger in the international landscape.