Letter to the Editor of The New York Times, published May 15, 1998

To the Editor:

Re "Another Land Mine Retreat" (editorial, May 11):

United States anti-personnel and anti-tank mines
developed after the Vietnam War are self-destructing
and self-deactivating (within 4 hours or 15 days).

They do not, as you say, continue "to kill civilians
for decades after a war ends."

They are designed to eliminate the long-term
humanitarian hazard and to make their retrieval for use
against American forces impossible.

The Ottawa Treaty signed by many nations in December
1997 does not limit anti-tank mines, which (if not
self-destructing and self-deactivating) kill civilians
for decades.

Rather than sign the Ottawa Treaty, the Administration
should adopt a policy banning anti-personnel or
anti-tank land mines other than those that
self-destruct or self-deactivate.

It should also destroy the 9 percent of United States
anti-personnel mines and the 20 percent of anti-tank
mines that lack these essential features.

The Administration should then push for a global treaty
along the same lines. That would give Washington a
leadership role in eliminating the danger to civilians
posed by both anti-personnel and anti-tank land mines.
{, while protecting our military personnel.}

New York, May 13, 1998

The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign

(Published in The New York Times, May 15, 1998, with the text in
"{...} deleted by the editor)