For America’s adversaries, the Biden administration is the gift that keeps on giving. In his most recent loveable “gaffe,” President Joe Biden admitted on live TV that the reason the US is supplying cluster munitions to Ukraine is because both America and Ukraine are short on 155mm ammunition.
During a recent interview, Biden told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, “This is a war relating to munitions. And they’re running out of that ammunition, and we’re low on it.”
Just to make sure Russia fully understood the situation, Biden went on to add, “And so, what I finally did, I took the recommendation of the Defense Department to, not permanently, but allow for this transition period while we get more 155 weapons, these shells, for the Ukrainians.”
Byron York, the Washington Examiner’s chief political correspondent, notes, “President Biden is not particularly clear but seems to be saying U.S. is sending cluster munitions to Ukraine because we are running out of 155mm artillery ammunition to send them.” He added, “Seems obvious this is affecting U.S. readiness to defend itself.”
In CNN interview, President Biden is not particularly clear but seems to be saying US is sending cluster munitions to Ukraine because we are running out of 155mm artillery ammunition to send them. Seems obvious this is affecting US readiness to defend itself. pic.twitter.com/ofKyZQUx2X
— Byron York (@ByronYork) July 9, 2023
Even prior to the president’s massive misstep, sending cluster bombs to Ukraine has been a hot-button topic within the administration.
Cluster bombs disperse submunitions or bomblets over a wide area. Once deployed, they open in mid-air or upon impact, releasing the submunitions over a large area. Each submunition either explodes on impact or has a delayed detonation mechanism.
The intention behind cluster bombs is to cover a broad target area and cause widespread damage and casualties. They pose significant risks to non-combatants, as unexploded submunitions can remain on the ground even after the conflict has ended.
Russia has been using cluster bombs in its invasion of Ukraine, an action which then-press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration considered a possible war crime. In February of 2022 Psaki warned, “We have seen the reports. If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime.”
The use of cluster bombs prompted the formation of The United Nations Convention of Cluster Munitions in 2010. While the United States and Russia have not signed onto the convention, its existence drives home the threat cluster bombs pose to innocent bystanders.
In August, Human Rights Watch condemned Russia for using “explosive weapons with wide area effects and widely banned cluster munitions in apparent violation of international humanitarian law, or the laws of war.”
During Biden’s revealing CNN interview, however, the president said choosing to provide Ukraine with cluster munitions was a “difficult decision,” but in the end, “They either have the weapons to stop the Russians…or they don’t. And I think they needed them.”
Just Foreign Policy observes, “If the US provides at least 100,000 cluster bombs and each one has at least 4 duds, Ukraine will be littered with at least 400,000 unexploded bomblets.”
Nineteen members of Congress have stepped forward to condemn the administration’s controversial decision. Per Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA),
“We can and will continue to support our Ukrainian allies’ defense against Russia’s aggression. However, that support does not require we undermine the United States’ leadership in advocating for human rights around the world, enable indiscriminate harm that will only further endanger Ukrainian civilians, or distance us from European partners in the conflict who are signatories to the U.N. Convention opposing cluster munitions.”
Representatives Sara Jacobs (D-CA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) went one step further, proposing an amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act that would block Biden’s move.
Per the amendment, “No military assistance shall be furnished for cluster munitions, no defense export license for cluster munitions may be issued, and no cluster munitions or cluster munitions technology shall be sold or transferred.”
As always, DC spin doctors were quick to respond. An unnamed White House Official walked back the president’s claim, explaining that sending military aid to Ukraine has not drained America’s ammunition supplies.
“The military has specific requirements for the numbers of weapons systems and ammunition we maintain in our reserves in case of contingencies or military conflict. Everything we send to Ukraine is in excess of that, so the US is not running out of ammunition ourselves.”
It’s hard to pinpoint which is more dangerous: a president who spills military secrets to the enemy on live TV, or one who makes up damaging facts to justify an unpopular decision. Or, as most likely in the case of Biden, one who has absolutely no idea what they are saying at any given time.
Here’s hoping America’s enemies will just write this blunder off to dementia.
love when the president of America goes on CNN to tell everyone we’re low on ammo. https://t.co/vd0eQRh75Z
— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) July 8, 2023