U.S. is Dropping World’s Biggest Non-Nuclear bomb in Afghanistan

They have the destructive power of an atomic bomb,
but they can barely make a dent in U.S. news
coverage. I’m talking about the 15,000-pound bombs the United States is using against Afghanistan this week. The so-called Daisy Cutters, named BLU-82, are the world’s biggest non-nuclear

They have the destructive power of an atomic bomb,
but they can barely make a dent in U.S. news
coverage. I’m talking about the 15,000-pound bombs the United States is using against Afghanistan this week. The so-called Daisy Cutters, named BLU-82, are the world’s biggest non-nuclear

In many places, the development received a
10-second mention on the evening news, five or six
items down in the program lineup. Newscasters
broadcast video footage of an enormous black dust
cloud rising above an Afghan mountain range,
accompanied by the assurances of Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld that the "stepped up"
assaults would hasten the collapse of the Taliban

AP describes the Blu-82, nicknamed "Big
Blue," as being "as large as a
Volkswagen beetle, but heavier." Digging for
the less charming details, one finds that the bomb
got its other name, "Daisy Cutter,"
because of the shape of the crater it leaves —
and that it has the ability to clear a 3-mile-long

Dropped from huge transport aircraft, "Big
Blue" releases a cloud of inflammable
ammonium nitrate, aluminum dust, and polystyrene
slurry which is then ignited by a detonator. The
result is a firestorm that incinerates an area the
size of five football fields, consumes oxygen, and
creates a shock-wave and vacuum pressure that
destroys the internal organs of anyone within

"As you would expect, they make a heck of a
bang when they go off," General Peter Pace,
vice-chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff
told a press conference. "The intent is to
kill people."

The United States has used at least two of these
"Big Blues" so far.

"Big Blue" was used in Vietnam, to
create instant helicopter landing pads in jungle
areas. It was employed in the Gulf War, to
detonate minefields, and more controversially, to
terrorize Iraqi troops.

From the ground, the columns of dust and smoke
that the bombs produce are indistinguishable from
mushroom clouds. In Iraq, some British patrols
reported thinking they were in a nuclear war.

While George W. Bush lectures the world about
Osama bin Laden’s lust for nuclear weapons, U.S.
forces are employing weapons that, while not
banned by international treaty, come as close to
nukes as one can get without smashing atoms.

The Daisy Cutter attacks come less than a week
after the United States crippled Afghanistan’s
biggest hydroelectric complex. Afghan Education
Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said seven U.S. raids
last Wednesday and Thursday severely damaged the
Kajaki hydroelectric complex in southern Helmand
province, knocking out the power supplies of
Kandahar and Lashkarga. The report was
corroborated by refugees interviewed by Agence
France Press (AFP, 11/01/01)

"So far water has not started gushing out of
the dam but any further bombing will destroy
(it)," Minister Muttaqi told DAWN, Pakistan’s
English language paper, last week. "It may
cause widespread flooding, putting at risk the
lives of thousands of people."

In another new development this week, U.S. forces
are also using 5,000 pound GBU-28 "Deep
Throat" bunker-busters, which burrow through
as much as 20 feet of rock before exploding

The Geneva Protocol is not unclear. You don’t have
to be in Afghanistan. You can read it on the Web [


Protocol 1, Article 51.2. states: "The
civilian population as such, as well as individual
civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts
or threats of violence the primary purpose of
which is to spread terror among the civilian
population are prohibited."

Article 57: "Works or installations
containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dikes
and nuclear electrical generating stations, shall
not be made the object of attack, even where these
objects are military objectives, if such attack
may cause the release of dangerous forces and
consequent severe losses among the civilian
population. "

Article 51 explicitly outlaws carpet or area
bombing tactics: "Among others, the following
types of attacks are to be considered as
indiscriminate: an attack by bombardment by any
methods or means which treats as a single military
objective a number of clearly separated and
distinct military objectives located in a city,
town, village or other area containing a similar
concentration of civilians or civilian objects;
and an attack which may be expected to cause
incidental loss of civilian life, injury to
civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a
combination thereof, which would be excessive in
relation to the concrete and direct military
advantage anticipated."

The press talked for weeks about whether it was
acceptable for U.S. forces to violate the Muslim
holy month of Ramadan. Is it unreasonable to
expect at least equal attention to the question of
whether U.S. assaults are violating international

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Author: Laura Flanders

News Service: WorkingforChange.com – November 8, 2001

URL: http://www.commondreams.org/views01/1108-04.htm

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