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When the clusterf***k hits the fan

J North

22 July 2023

Zelensky welcomes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to Kyiv.

There has been shock at the announcement that the US is to supply cluster weapons to the Ukrainian military. They are horrible weapons, in which single shells split into multiple bomblets, causing complete destruction over a wide area. However modern weapons are savagely destructive. What is special about cluster bombs is their effect on civilians.

Each munition has a failure rate, leaving "dud" bomblets scattered around the area, targeting civilians and children. To add to the danger, Ukrainian armed forces have intentionally targeted civilians in the Donbass with cluster munition since 2014.

But what is really shocking is the 2008 cluster bomb ban conference chaired by Ireland's Micheál Martin in Croke park. Over 100 nations endorsed the ban, yet now there is silence from the western nations, with Ireland holding its fingers to its lips most tightly.

A quiet chorus of support has trickled in from the pro-NATO left. They are critical of the use of the weapons, but Ukraine has the right to defend itself. Their mantra of perceived Ukrainian self-determination as the key issue for socialists has led to the most craven forms of social patriotism.

Irish capitalism knows no shame. Not satisfied with keeping quiet about its supposed opposition to cluster weapons, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stages a circus in Kiev, proclaiming our absolute commitment to the war and making it clear to the audience at home that we are effectively part of NATO whether they like it or not.

The episode is a clear illustration of the reality of Irish neutrality. The neutrality is used to pose at international conferences and proclaim our commitment to good causes. The reality is that our absolute subservience to the US means that cluster munitions are already flowing through Shannon airport.

However, in the current circumstances perhaps the greatest crime is that of the US. They are providing weapons that in Ukraine will be militarily ineffective. In use against fortified defences and heavy armour they will fail utterly. The intention is clear. Fight to the last Ukrainian to build a renewed US world domination.

On the side-lines, Ireland binds itself to the wheel of a brutal and declining Empire.

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