News Release

Influential House Dem “Open to” Cluster Munitions for Ukraine 


A statement by the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee — signaling that he is “open to” the U.S. shipping cluster munitions to Ukraine — is now sparking alarm nationwide. Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations last month, Adam Smith (D-Wash.) spoke favorably about supplying what is widely regarded as one of the most inhumane types of weapons in existence.

When Russia invaded Ukraine while using cluster munitions, the New York Times reported that “internationally banned cluster munitions” are “a variety of weapons — rockets, bombs, missiles and artillery projectiles — that disperse lethal bomblets in midair over a wide area, hitting military targets and civilians alike.” And the newspaper noted that cluster bombs “kill so indiscriminately they are banned under international law.”

Human Rights Watch has declared: “All countries should condemn the use of these weapons under any circumstances.” But Rep. Smith said that providing cluster munitions to Ukrainian armed forces is “something I’m open to.”

In an opinion piece published by The Hill on Wednesday, “The U.S. should not provide cluster munitions to Ukraine,” Institute for Public Accuracy executive director Norman Solomon wrote: “Part of Smith’s rationale was that the Russian military has already used cluster munitions in Ukraine, so the U.S. might as well enable Ukrainian forces to do the same. That approach boils down to a tacit assumption that Washington should not lag behind Moscow in a race to the bottom.”


    Solomon wrote: “An implicit corollary is that America should get a pass on wartime actions that it has justifiably condemned other nations for doing. Such approaches fit into patterns of evasion that hide the actual human toll of U.S. military choices.” Solomon’s book War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine will be published next week.

    In yesterday’s piece for The Hill, Solomon asserted that “as a leading Democrat on military matters, Rep. Smith is putting forward an attitude toward cluster munitions that could have notably pernicious effects. But he’s hardly alone. The moral corrosion — reflected in the current Capitol Hill discourse on cluster munitions — is distinctly bipartisan. In the early spring, four powerful Republican voices on military affairs and foreign policy weighed in on the side of aiding Ukraine to disregard the cluster-munitions ban treaty that 123 countries have ratified or signed. (Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine are not among them.)”

     This morning, the activist organization launched a national campaign that it expects will generate well over 1,000 constituent emails to members of the House and Senate in the next few hours. The group says that “we can and must raise our voices,” pointing out: “Cluster bombs kill indiscriminately, and disproportionately kill children who are attracted to and pick up the bomblets.”

     The Congressional Research Service has issued a report documenting that “U.S. and British forces used almost 13,000 cluster munitions containing an estimated 1.8 million to 2 million submunitions during the first three weeks of combat in Iraq in 2003.”