The Trump administration made big news recently — and it wasn’t about impeachment. On Jan. 31, the White House announced that it was cancelling the policy that prohibited using anti-personnel landmines outside the Korean peninsula. The subject has been a fraught issue since the early 1990s, when civil society began to respond to the tragic consequences — particularly in the developing world — of the proliferation of landmines. The Clinton administration was a motivating force behind the Ottawa Convention, which banned the use of anti-personnel landmines worldwide, although it didn’t sign the treaty. The Bush administration argued that developing and deploying “smart mines,” that self-destruct after a period time, was consistent with U.S. national interests and humanitarian concerns. Under President Barack Obama, however, the United States committed to implement all of the elements of the Ottawa Convention except on the Korean peninsula, which poses a unique challenge to American defense planners.
To discuss the issue, Ryan Evans was joined by David E. Johnson of the RAND Corporation, Stephen Pomper of the International Crisis Group and formerly of the Obama administration, Luke O’Brien of War on the Rocks, and Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch.