The National Conference of Viet Nam Veteran Ministers, an organization composed of clergy who served in Viet Nam, meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota, on October 14 through 19, 1997, issued the following statement concerning the upcoming decision about whether or not the United States will sign the treaty banning landmines:
As war veterans we fully recognize that it is the proper concern of the President of the United States and the other leaders of the military forces of our nation to approve measures and provide equipment to secure all reasonable safety for the men and women in the military.
However, we would note that, at best, weapons have only the intelligence of those using them. Weapons which are removed from human control have no intelligence and are unable to discern between friend and foe, soldier and civilian. Weapons, such as landmines, which are planted and hidden, wait, with no possibility of human control, to explode, reaping a bloody harvest of people killed and maimed. The cost of this crop is beyond human comprehension.
As men and women of faith, and as veterans, we believe strongly in the tenets of responsibility and accountability. Too often those who have sent our men and women to war have failed to be either responsible or accountable. We will not stand silently and allow this to continue.
It is an affront to all creation to continue to place hidden, uncontrolled weapons, such as landmines, upon this planet. To use such outdated weapons of terror in this age and to assert that these weapons are vital to secure. a safe. perimeter is an insult to intelligence. For the Commander-in-Chief and leaders of our military forces to approve of such weapons is an act of moral blindness which places our nation's military needlessly at risk.
We call upon the President of the United States, and members of our nation's government, to join the international community by signing and ratifying the treaty banning landmines, and to work cooperatively with the other nations to neutralize the man-made plague of deadly devices already in place.
Return to Peace and Justice Statements.