Total ban

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 12:00am

The Chinese people and their government have recently protested Japanese failure to detoxify abandoned chemical weapons dating back to World War II.

These weapons are still taking a toll of innocent civilians 70 years after deployment. The injuries and deaths are striking reminders of the cowardice of military men and their scientist allies who are constantly devising ways of killing at a distance.

In earlier forms of warfare, soldiers faced their enemies in hand-to-hand combat and matched their bravery against comparable adversaries. The legend of 'brave soldiers' derives from that era. Modern soldiery is very different - it takes little bravery to push a button.

The use of poison gas and other chemical weapons has been banned by international conventions. Now the focus is on landmines, awful weapons designed to maim and kill the unwary. China, the world's largest producer of these weapons, must begin to co-operate with those struggling to enforce a total ban.

It would be quite hypocritical for the Chinese to condemn Japan for leaving poison gas shells after World War II, but still allow its own army to plant mines in the 21st century with deadly results in future years.

Condemning the actions of former enemies is desirable, but it is much braver to condemn one's own militarists who justify the use of condemned weapons.

If the world is ever to attain peace, we will need decent Americans to condemn the Pentagon for the deaths of civilians, joining hands with right-minded Chinese who reject the obsessions of their generals. Down with landmines and those who profit by them.

J. GARNER, Shamshuipo