A person standing on a stage

Description automatically generated
Susan Schnall, President of Veterans for Peace, New York City, and a Vietnam veteran featured in the documentary Sir! No Sir! The Suppressed Story of the GI Movement to End the Vietnam War, speaks at a peace rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on July 22 outside munitions factory. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Cluster Bombs Have Killed at Least 67,000 Vietnamese Since the Vietnam War Ended

One of President Joe Biden’s biographers, David Hagan, author of No Ordinary Joe, tells the story of a 10-year-old Joe Biden taking a $5 bet to climb a burning coal pile in his hometown of Scranton. Young Joe took the bet and scampered up the mountainous mound of fiery fissures and won the bet. Biden had the $5 bill framed and it hung in his Senate office for decades.

As a boy, Joe Biden was a risk-taker of his own life. Now, President of the United States and leader of NATO, he has taken all of us to the fiery brink of nuclear war. 

Just off Interstate 81 near Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden’s hometown, is Exit 185 to what is now called the President Biden Expressway.

On July 22, multiple peace and justice organizers went to Scranton to focus on what the Ukrainians and the President of the United States say is the most important weapons needed: artillery shells, and now the added dimension of putting bomblets inside artillery shells for use as cluster bombs.

Young man at the protest holding a 155 mm shell and a bomblet. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Drive down the steep slope of the President Biden Expressway to find the #4 Merchant of Death in the U.S., General Dynamics, operating the Army Ammunition Plant just a chip-shot away from the central shopping center of downtown Scranton.

An aerial view of hte Scranton Army Ammunition plant, showing a number of rectangular buildings and a large parking lot. Image from Army.mil and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0.
Army Ammunition Plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania. [Source: hsp.org]

During the Vietnam War students from the nearby University of Scranton protested outside the 155 mm artillery slaughterhouse. There is no record of any protests at the General Dynamics facility in decades. That changed on Saturday, July 22, when anti-war activists drove to Scranton from Vermont, Virginia, New Jersey, Long Island and New York City, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and upstate New York.

A group of people playing a guitar

Description automatically generated
SUNY Cortland Professor Colleen Kattau plays the guitar at peace rally. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

The Haunting Nightmare of Children’s Screams

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky has spent his time traveling to western capitals asking for more and more weapons to fight the Russians to the last Ukrainians.

The Biden administration has agreed to sell Ukraine cluster bombs which were known in the Vietnam War for their lethality because they are designed to maximize human suffering by exploding once they penetrate the skin.

Also, at least 67,000 Vietnamese have been maimed by unexploded cluster bombs since war’s end, along with thousands more people in Laos and Cambodia.

A jet dropping bombs into the air

Description automatically generated
B52s dropping cluster munitions over Vietnam. These bombs continue to cripple and kill children decades later. [Source: losangelesherald.com]

Scott Bennett, a former U.S. Army psychological warfare officer and State Department counterterrorism analyst, told Sputnik that the results of the introduction of cluster bombs in Ukraine will be “nothing but violent, indiscriminate civilian deaths, destruction of property, [and] the haunting nightmares of children’s screams. The supreme danger of the cluster bombs the U.S. is intending on sending to Ukraine is that they are 20 years old, which means they will have a very high ‘dud’ rate—probably 10-20% or more. This means these bomblets will be left unexploded all over the landscape waiting for unsuspecting civilians to detonate them—which seems to be the objective: terror.”

Cluster munition
Unexploded DPICM submunition, similar to the type transferred to Ukraine, found by Human Rights Watch researcher Bonnie Docherty in a field north of Baghdad, Iraq, in May 2003. [Source: hls.harvard.edu]

Even if the group that came out to protest on July 22 in Scranton was small, they made an important political statement and may yet help to spark more anti-war protests.

See video here.

One of the speakers said that, while people working at the artillery shell plant had to feed their families like everyone else, they should consider the victims of the bombs they help build and work with others in their community to build a peace economy instead of the war economy that now exists.

Cecily O’Neil of Veterans for Peace, Binghamton, New York, holds sign calling for no more weapons to Ukraine. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Of course, to question the region’s embrace of militarism by focusing on the largest artillery shell maker in the United States may have been sacrilegious to a region steeped in a religious embrace of militarism.

A group of people holding signs

Description automatically generated
[Source: Photo courtesy of Gary Ingraham]

The University of Scranton, a Catholic university just a few minutes’ walk from the Army Ammunition Plant, trains college students in the art of killing via its ROTC program. Ten colleges in northeastern Pennsylvania send students to train at the University of Scranton

Academic excellence, care for the individual and service to others are among the Jesuit characteristics found in the ROTC Program at Scranton. From left: Cadet Vincent Oliverio, a senior computer engineering major at Scranton; Cadet Ryan Haley, a senior business administration major at Scranton; and Lt. Col. William White, professor of military science at Scranton.
Scranton ROTC students. [Source: news.scranton.edu]
A black and white photo of a helicopter flying over a field

Description automatically generated
[Source: scranton.edu]

Just a short drive up I-81 to the little town of Archbald is the #1 Merchant of Death in the world, Lockheed Martin where laser-guided Paveway bombs are made to be fired from killer drones.

An aerial view of a building

Description automatically generated
Lockheed Martin facility in Archbald, Pennsylvania, where Paveway bombs are manufactured that are fired from killer drones. [Source: lockheedmartin.com]
USAF MQ-9 Reaper GBU-12 Paveway Laser Guided Bomb
Paveway bombs. [Source: defencetalk.com]

A 20-minute drive from downtown Scranton to the largest military electronic storehouse in the nation is the U.S. Army Tobyhanna Depot, the biggest industrial employer in northeastern Pennsylvania employing more than 3,000 workers.

Tobyhanna army depot sign
[Source: cobases.com]

Scrantonians are just one of many Merchant-of-Death brainwashed and money-washed populations in the United States. The region is historically Democratic and their present congressional representative, Matt Cartwright, is a member of the House Progressive Caucus.

Matt Cartwright [Source: wikipedia.org]

Cartwright is always ready and willing to praise new military contracts coming to northeastern Pennsylvania and always votes each session for more military spending.

Having lived in this coal-mining Lackawanna Valley for many more years than Joe Biden, and as a graduate of the University of Scranton, I knew well our reception by locals would not be with open arms. In Scranton, and in every little town and village north and south, are street lamps adorned with photos of their heroes, military veterans. 

A group of people holding a banner

Description automatically generated
[Source: Photo Courtesy of Gary Ingraham]

We learned how deeply Scranton culture supports militarism and the Merchants of Death as well as their native son, Joe Biden. 

Sign from the protest. [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Our estimate of Scranton participants at the rally was fewer than ten, and two of them were Trump supporters who parked their tractor-trailer alongside our gathering. Local television stations were asked to cover our event—none did—and a lone Scranton Times-Tribune photographer snapped a shot of the rally that was buried in its Sunday edition.

We will not give up on Scranton, The good people there deserve better than a house of death in the center of their town. President Biden repeats how he wants to renew passenger train travel to New York City from Scranton. Why not a more meaningful proposal like converting the ammunition plant into a rail production center?

In 1855, Scranton was the leading iron producer in the United States. Later, Scranton became known as the Electric City.

[Source: visitnepa.org]

Amtrak Joe could leave a proud legacy by focusing on the building of electric trains in his hometown. The Steamtown National Historic Site is a block away from the Scranton Army ammunition maker of artillery shells.

Organizers of the Rally for Ukraine asked Scranton area Catholics to petition their Bishop Joseph Bambera to speak at our rally. Six women from Bishop Bambera’s hometown of Carbondale sent him a request to attend and speak. The women did not receive a response. 

Bishop Bambera
Joseph C. Bambara, the Bishop of Scranton who refused to attend the peace rally. What a hypocrite and coward! [Source: dioceseofscranton.org]

So, Pope Francis (in mask) and President Biden (in mask) did stand in. Biden spoke high praise for the 155 mm plant in his hometown and as he spoke Pope Francis appeared and advised the President that he needed to confess to his historic murderous deeds from the Middle East to Ukraine.

A person shaking hands with a person in a mask

Description automatically generated
[Source: Photo Courtesy of Gary Ingraham]

The Pope took the President by hand and led him across the street to the Army Ammunition Plant and lied on the concrete entrance to the 155 mm factory where the President confessed his sins as others lied down and blocked the entranceway.

No arrests were made. Armed guards did not leave their duty shack. 

If Pope Francis was really in attendance he would likely have said the same words he spoke to the United States Congress in September of 2015:  “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

Americans must demand economic conversion from designing and producing tools to kill into serving the real needs of health, housing, climate, and transportation. Are Americans ready to accept that they have been scammed by what Pope Francis told the U.S. Congress  “The arms industry is drenched in blood”?

CovertAction Magazine is made possible by subscriptionsorders and donations from readers like you.

Blow the Whistle on U.S. Imperialism

Click the whistle and donate

When you donate to CovertAction Magazine, you are supporting investigative journalism. Your contributions go directly to supporting the development, production, editing, and dissemination of the Magazine.

CovertAction Magazine does not receive corporate or government sponsorship. Yet, we hold a steadfast commitment to providing compensation for writers, editorial and technical support. Your support helps facilitate this compensation as well as increase the caliber of this work.

Please make a donation by clicking on the donate logo above and enter the amount and your credit or debit card information.

CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your gift is tax-deductible for federal income purposes. CAI’s tax-exempt ID number is 87-2461683.

We sincerely thank you for your support.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s). CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI), including its Board of Directors (BD), Editorial Board (EB), Advisory Board (AB), staff, volunteers and its projects (including CovertAction Magazine) are not responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. This article also does not necessarily represent the views the BD, the EB, the AB, staff, volunteers, or any members of its projects.

Differing viewpoints: CAM publishes articles with differing viewpoints in an effort to nurture vibrant debate and thoughtful critical analysis. Feel free to comment on the articles in the comment section and/or send your letters to the Editors, which we will publish in the Letters column.

Copyrighted Material: This web site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. As a not-for-profit charitable organization incorporated in the State of New York, we are making such material available in an effort to advance the understanding of humanity’s problems and hopefully to help find solutions for those problems. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. You can read more about ‘fair use’ and US Copyright Law at the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School.

Republishing: CovertAction Magazine (CAM) grants permission to cross-post CAM articles on not-for-profit community internet sites as long as the source is acknowledged together with a hyperlink to the original CovertAction Magazine article. Also, kindly let us know at info@CovertActionMagazine.com. For publication of CAM articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: info@CovertActionMagazine.com.

By using this site, you agree to these terms above.

About the Author


Leave a Reply