With all due respect
land mines are not a "stupid
" weapon at all
. Used properly
they are a very effective, very cheap and very safe method of defense --
unless you're the enemy, that is.
Consider the real-life example of Finland, a sparsely-populated
country with a very long land border
with Russia. Finland and Russia have had more than their
fair share of tussles over the centuries, so most Finnish military
doctrine is concerned with the (highly non-trivial) problem of keeping
the Russkies at bay.
Now, guarding a thousand-kilometer-long border against an
invasion is not an easy task.
Having learned the hard way
that nobody else really gives a rat's ass about the place, Finland
cannot rely on and hence does not belong to any military alliances.
Finland does not have the luxury
of a nuclear deterrent or superior armed forces.
Posting guards at 100-meter intervals for the entire length of the
border would tie up the entire Finnish army, not that a single guard
could even do very much when that column of T-72 MBTs
comes rumbling down. Finland's air force is no match for
the Russian one, so destroying the tanks from the air (as the US
did during the Gulf War) is not an option. There is precisely one
effective solution: land mines.
A mine large enough to disable a tank doesn't cost much and it will
(notoriously) stay primed and ready for decades. It's not necessary
to mine the entire border, as the enemy (hopefully?) does not know
which places have been mined and thus crossing the border at any point
becomes more risky. Clearing a path is a slow and painstaking job,
slow enough to allow reinforcements to be brought in. In all,
mines increase the cost of an invasion and make its success less likely,
reducing the likelihood of war. To put it another way, mines save
But what about all those poor innocent children stepping on mines by
accident and getting their limbs blown off, I hear you ask?
Sure, this happens in places like Cambodia, where mines are used
on purpose as a tactic of terror. It does not, and will not, happen
in places like Finland. Consider:
- The Finnish army is not afraid of Russian guerrillas on foot,
it's afraid of tanks and for them it needs anti-tank mines.
These requires hundreds of kilograms of
pressure to detonate, and a person could safely dance
the balalaika on one.
- Mines are dangerous only if you don't know where they are.
This is why the Finnish army, like all modern militaries, maintains
careful maps indicating exactly where every single mine is. Most
anti-tank mines can even be detonated by remote control, making the
task of mine clearance effortless.
- And the biggest reason civilians will not be killed by Finnish
mines is that, as far as I know, there are no Finnish mines deployed
anywhere at the moment. It is enough that the army has
sufficient stockpiles and detailed plans for laying them in, say, 24
hours if things start to heat up.
There are plenty of countries that use mines extensively and
responsibly, e.g. Israel
, the United States
, even Russia
(although some Chechen
s might disagree with me
The problem is the countries that use them irresponsibly,
and do you think the Khmer Rouge
, the Taliban
Lord's Resistance Army
give a fig
about some high-falutin' UN treaty?
Mines are trivially easy to assemble on your own, and the types with
the highest civilian body counts are usually domestically produced.
Wishy-washy feel-good "mines are bhaaaaaaaad"
campaigns will do
nothing to stop the slaughter, and the same effort would be much
better expended in either investing in mine cleanup efforts or, better
yet, attempting to convince the guilty parties directly of the error
of their ways.
1) Except in the sense of not being so-called "smart weapons", the latest buzzword for horrendously
expensive guided weaponry aimed at specific targets.
But I think both blubelle and I are referring to an overall strategic perspective here.