May 26, 1998
The Honorable Samuel R. Berger
National Security Advisor
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20506
Dear Mr. Berger:
I welcome reports that the Clinton administration has made a new commitment to sign the Ottawa Treaty, as soon as alternatives to existing anti-personnel landmines are in place.
As you know, the Catholic Bishops have welcomed the useful steps the Administration has taken on anti-personnel landmines, but we have been deeply disappointed with the U.S. decision not to sign the Ottawa Treaty. I hope that this new commitment to sign the treaty will be made real by a concerted effort to find appropriate alternatives in the near term, and we will support legislative efforts to do so. We do not underestimate the challenge of developing such alternatives, but if alternatives exist, and many experts say they do, the United States has a moral responsibility to pursue them -- not in the distant future but now.
Even if the United States is not responsible for the indiscriminate use of landmines in countries around the world, the terrible human cost of these insidious weapons should compel us to help ban them, not resist or delay work toward this urgent moral imperative. The Ottawa Treaty offers the world the best opportunity it now has to make progress in stopping the killing and maiming of civilians around the globe. That is why, like so many others, Pope John Paul II has called on all nations to adhere to it, so that "there be no delay in freeing huge numbers of men, women and children from these destructive instruments insidiously placed under their feet." Without the United States, this noble effort to achieve an effective global ban will be seriously undermined.
We hope you will find ways to heed the call of so many Americans who want the United States to be a moral leader by signing the treaty that will ban landmines sooner rather than later.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick
Archbishop of Newark
Chairman, International Policy Committee