I would like to commend Thanh Nien Weekly for the meaningful and well-written article "The Worst Weapon" by Calvin Godfrey (issue No. 61, November 12-18).
I recently visited the Convention on Cluster Munitions photo exhibit held by the Royal Norwegian Embassy at Vincom City Office Tower in Hanoi to learn more about the issue of cluster munitions including international relief efforts to clear affected countries of unexploded ordnance. As an American living in Vietnam, reading US Secretary of Defense Robert Gate's reason for America having yet to sign the treaty to ban the use of cluster munitions, stating that they remain "legitimate weapons with a clear military purpose" namely to "engage [...] targets whose precise locations are unknown" was shocking and embarrassing. In the bittersweet evolution of military technology, where night vision and laser targeting are commonplace in a country's arsenal, continuing to support and justify the use of this kind of outdated weapon which has most likely killed just as many if not more innocent civilians as enemy soldiers is an unacceptable position to take.
The ravages of numerous wars remain a part of daily life here in Hanoi as well as throughout the country and serve as solemn reminders to residents and visitors alike. Old men in faded green army uniforms pedaling bicycles through the neighborhood, people missing arms and legs sleeping on benches in the park, and crumbling buildings with bullet holes and collapsed walls are all phenomena I have yet to adjust to, for in America these historical scars have not littered the country in the same way. I feel very deeply for the citizens of Southeast Asia who leave their homes every day for the fields, at risk of not coming home in the evening. For all the children going out to play hide and seek or climb trees around their village, as children all around the world do, but unfortunately discover a lethal toy along the way.
I am pleased to see this newspaper revisiting an issue long dormant for the developed world but one that has constantly plagued the countryside of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand for decades. I hope America will soon join in the movement with the same enthusiasm it had in cluster munitions fifty years ago.
Thank you for the informative articles you present to your English speaking audience every week concerning relevant issues written with a passion that lives up to the name of the Vietnam Youth Federation.
Sincerely, Zachary Herman
The West Lake Review
33 Tay Ho Road