If A Cluster Bomb Could Talk

By Norman Solomon / Creators Syndicate - April 14, 1999(?)

Hi! My name is CBU-87/B, but let's not be formal. A lot of my friends call
me Cluster Bomb.

I've been busy lately, doing what I'm supposed to. And I sure appreciate
the careful treatment that I receive from the American news media.

My pals at the Pentagon put me in the category of a "Combined Effects
Munition." My maker describes me as an "all-purpose, air-delivered cluster
weapons system." Not to brag or anything, but such labels don't do me
justice. When I explode, the results can really be quite awesome.

I have gotten to do my stuff in Yugoslavia this month. One of my memorable
performances came at around noon on a Friday. Some people in the city of
Nis were shopping at a vegetable market when -- boom -- I arrived. It was
dramatic as hell.

A news article that I found in the May 8 edition of the San Francisco
Chronicle reported that "the bombs struck next to the hospital complex and
near the market, bringing death and destruction, peppering the streets of
Serbia's third-largest city with shrapnel and littering the courtyards with
yellow bomb casings."

This was one of my few moments in the U.S. media limelight, so forgive me
while I quote some more: "In a street leading from the market, dismembered
bodies were strewn among carrots and other vegetables in pools of blood. A
dead woman, her body covered with a sheet, was still clutching a shopping
bag filled with carrots."

I know, it's immodest to flaunt my press notices. But people don't get to
see those sorts of news accounts very much in America! If the stories are
reported at all, they're usually buried (ha ha) on back pages of newspapers
and rarely even mentioned on the networks.

Once in a while, some Western journalist decides to put me down. The
moralizing can be unpleasant. For instance, a BBC correspondent named John
Simpson has been reporting from Belgrade, and he did a rather brusque
commentary that the Sunday Telegraph in London published a few days ago.

"In Novi Sad and Nis, and several other places across Serbia and Kosovo
where there are no foreign journalists, heavier bombing has brought more
accidents," Simpson carped. He complained that cluster bombs "explode in
the air and hurl shards of shrapnel over a wide radius." And he went on to
say: "Used against human beings, cluster bombs are some of the most savage
weapons of modern warfare."

Cluster bombs like me could do without the overheated pejoratives, thank

Fortunately, we hardly ever have to endure such indignities in the American

But please don't forget the very real accomplishments that I can partially
claim as my own. The next time you see a headline or hear a newscaster
referring to the "air campaign," remember that my achievements are
outrageously understated by such jargon!

You see, I'm a 1,000-pound marvel, a cluster bomb with an ingenious design.
When I go off, a couple of hundred "bomblets" shoot out in all directions,
aided by little parachutes that look like inverted umbrellas. Those 'chutes
slow down the descent of the bomblets and disperse them so they'll hit
plenty of what my maker calls "soft targets." Before that happens, though,
each bomblet breaks into about 300 pieces of jagged steel shrapnel.

Sometimes, as a cluster bomb, I get a little jealous of the exaggerated
notoriety that the news media confer on outfits like the National Rifle
Association. They get credited with the proliferation of murder and mayhem.
Well, they're rank amateurs! Piddling sidearms pushers! Compared to me,
they're small-time retailers. I'm into wholesale. They don't know how to
preserve, protect and defend the Grim Reaper like I do.

I just laugh when I read the nasty things that so many pundits have been
writing about the NRA. While they rant and rail against assault rifles that
take a few lives now and again in the United States, I've been busy slicing
up tender human bodies in Yugoslavia.

When those high school students died in Colorado, the news media kept
saying what a horrendous tragedy it was. But what about the work I've done
on kids and grownups in Yugoslavia? Journalists merely echo the statements
coming out of the White House, mumbling that it's regrettable and can't be

The pundits keep talking about gun control. Meanwhile, big bombs like me
are more and more out of control as we roam the skies above Yugoslavia.

Overall, this has been a great spring for me as I serve my lord, the Grim
Reaper. And from the standpoint of public relations, I'm doing fine. Back
in the offices of top Washington officials, and in the upper echelons of
American news media, I've got lots of friends in very high places. They may
pretend not to know me, but we understand each other very well.