Scott Horton Interviews Bonnie Docherty

Scott Horton, August 06, 2010

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Bonnie Docherty, Lecturer at Harvard Law School and Researcher in the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, discusses the new international law banning cluster bombs (in the countries that ratified it), laudable U.K. actions on destroying cluster bomb stockpiles and advocating for universal abolition, the devastating civilian toll and glacial-paced removal of cluster bombs in Laos, the increased stigma on the largest cluster bomb manufacturing countries (U.S., Russia, Israel) and why these particular weapons are outdated Cold War-era relics.

MP3 here. (19:49)

Bonnie Docherty is a Lecturer on Law and Clinical Instructor at the International Human Rights Clinic of Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. She is also Researcher in the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW). She is an expert on international humanitarian law, particularly involving cluster munitions and civilian protection during war.

For Human Rights Watch, Bonnie has conducted field research and written reports on cluster munition use in Lebanon (2006) and Afghanistan (2001-2002) and the civilian effects of armed conflict in Israel (2006), Israel/Gaza (2005), and Iraq (2003). Through writing and advocacy, she has participated in the campaign for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which culminated in its adoption in May 2008.

Bonnie received her A.B. from Harvard University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. Before law school, she worked as a journalist for three years.

10 Responses to “Bonnie Docherty”

  1. someone should put some webcams near a known cluster bomb area and if the webcams capture an accident, put it on the internet. talk about viral videos!

  2. Since in the US we like destructive weapons the same way we like, "Old Time Religion," with the gut not the brain, when if ever, will these invidual killers be banned?

  3. "The most telling one, and the one which distinguishes the new from the traditional forms, is what I call technological aggression and satisfaction. The phenomenon is quickly described: the act of aggression is physically carried out by a mechanism with a high degree of automatism, of far greater power than the individual human being who sets it in motion, keeps it in motion, and determines its end or target. The most extreme case is the rocket or missile; the most ordinary example the automobile. This means that the energy, the power activated and consummated is the mechanical, electrical, or nuclear energy of 'things' rather than the instinctual energy of a human being. Aggression is, as it were, transferred from a subject to an object, or is at least 'mediated' by an object, and the target is destroyed by a thing rather than by a person. This change in the relation between human and material energy, and between the physical and mental part of aggression (man becomes the subject and agent of aggression by virtue of his mental rather than physical faculties) must also affect the mental dynamic. I submit a hypothesis which is suggested by the inner logic of the process: with the'delegation' of destruction to a more or less automated thing or group and system of things, the instinctual satisfaction of the human person is'interrupted,'reduced, frustrated,'super-sublimated.' And such frustration makes for repetition and escalation: increasing violence, speed, enlarged scope. At the same time, personal responsibility, conscience, and the sense of guilt is weakened, or rather diffused, displaced from the actual context in which the aggression was committed (i.e. bombing raids), and relocated in a more or less innocuous context (impoliteness, sexual inadequacy, etc.). In this reaction too, the effect is a considerable weakening of the sense of guilt, and the defense (hatred, resentment) is also redirected from the real responsible subject (the commanding officer, the government) to a substitute person: not I as a (morally and physically) acting person did it, but the thing, the machine. The machine: the word suggests that an apparatus consisting of human beings may be substituted for the mechanical apparatus: the bureaucracy, the administration, the party, or organization is the responsible agent; I, the individual person, was only the instrumentality. And an instrument cannot, in any moral sense, be responsible or be in a state of guilt. In this way, another barrier against aggression, which civilization had erected in a long and violent process of discipline is removed. And the expansion of advanced capitalism becomes involved in a fateful psychical dialectic which enters into and propels its economic and political dynamic: the more powerful and 'technological' aggression becomes, the less is it apt to satisfy and pacify the primary impulse, and the more it tends toward repetition and escalation…."

    Herbert Marcuse

    As with missiles, so with cluster bombs. US military forces don't do beheadings–cluster bombs do it for them and with surgical imprecision.

  4. A Catch-22 subject if ever there was one.

    Of course cluster munitions – likewise mines – are a known hazard. It was – long ago, far away – a rule of thumb to avoid using cluster munitions against targets which friendly forces were anticipated to pass through/occupy. High dud rates. There is/was a time and a place for such using the MK-20 Rockeye (stopping anticipated massed armor attacks) or CBU-52 (against SAM positions) or the Combined-Effects Munitions (CEM); and mines which (I believe) crucial to the survival of a smaller force in face of overwhelming numbers.

    The answers are not in taking 'toys' away from Uncle Sam. That will only kill the flag-waving delusional kid next door and then all the progressives will 'guilt' you for not giving GI Joe 'the tools to do the Job'. And besides, He will just find another toy.

  5. I propose a solution to be stop raising your children to Wave the Flag. Refuse to sacrifice them on the altar at the National Cathedral – the Pentagon.

    The Empire is the problem. No Empire, no need to justify useage of these weapons. Uncle Sam needs to be stripped of his ability/authority to wontonly slaughter whenever He gets the hankerin' to scratch an itch.

  6. Easier just to raise the enlistment age to, say, 45.

    Or better yet, get rid of the volunteer army and military contractors and institute universal conscription–male, female, transgender, hermaphrodite, able and disabled–for five years for every American over age 50.

    Persons would be drafted by elective office and income– Congressmen and higher income first.

    For the five years they are in military service their assets would revert to the state, and if they were killed, become state property.

    The President as Commander-in-Chief would be required to serve in a field command.

    That surely would filter out all the wars not worth fighting and elucidate who the real "super-patriots" are.

    Moreover, every time the populus Americanus felt a wholesale change of leadership was necessary, they could declare war against a superior power and send the whole elite off to be killed.

  7. There's a Darwin award (from memory) of a U.S. soldier collecting the duds (!), with all the known locations marked with white flags, in an area where they were camped, put them into a pit. Spotted by a superior and yelled at, he threw the one in his hand into the pit, which promptly blew up & him to smithereens.

  8. I like it how a somewhat sensible discussion of Death Machinery suddenly veers off the road into a discussion of capitalism. Talk about not finding the way.

  9. Ya, Herr Hacklheber, you must really have to exert yourself mightily not to put two and two together and get four.

    The Marcuse passage is exactly about the machinery of death.

  10. I always felt that the wrinkled ones calling for war should be the ones to lead the assault and take point. If not themselves then their own flesh and blood would be required. Because if it isn't important enough for themselves to die or their own children then it sure as hell isn't important enough for anybody else.

    Raising the age of enlistment… check! No more young people to die for grizzled bastards who profit off of their deaths. All the rest of your ideas are along the lines of my own thoughts. See then how WAR suddenly goes out of fashion.

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