Wednesday, November 16, 2005

White Phosphorus

White phosphorus is a spontaneously flammable chemical which is used in war for illumination and smokescreens. Its use is prohibited for attacking civilians by Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. According to the BBC, the United States has not signed Protocol III.

I first saw pictures of children with horrific burns from white phosphorus last week. That was when the United States’ use of chemical weapons in Falluja was still being reported mostly by alternative media.

The Italian state broadcaster, RAI, aired a documentary on 8 November (by now widely available on the internet in at least 3 languages) that had alerted a lot of people to the use of white phosphorus, and today the main US/UK etc big media corporations finally reported the information.

Yesterday the Pentagon admitted using white phosphorus as a weapon, but they have denied breaking the convention on the use of chemical weapons and they have denied using the chemical against civilians. But while the Pentagon admits one thing and denies another, we must bear in mind that before yesterday they had only admitted using white phosphorous in Falluja to create smokescreens. The attack on Falluja was one year ago.

White phosphorus is not categorised as a chemical weapon because its primary use is for illumination. However, when a chemical is used as a weapon, which use the US has just admitted, it must then be considered a chemical weapon. Or is that too simplistic?

I would like to believe that the US military did not target civilians when shooting white phosphorus shells, but I do not. Anyway, the bottom line is that the US military used white phosphorus as a weapon in a town where there were civilians. They will of course call the civilian casualties “collateral damage,” but I do not buy into that concept. Our military went into Iraq on the pretext (one of many) of preventing Saddam Hussein’s military from using chemical weapons. There is something very wrong with this picture.


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Monkey has just sent me a very informative article about the use of chemical weapons in Iraq:

This briefing examines the continuing use of incendiary weapons (“napalm”) by the US military in Iraq. While the UK government has attempted to downplay or deny the use of incendiaries in Iraq, US officials have been forced to admit using the MK-77 incendiary, a modern form of napalm. The UK is party to an international convention banning such weapons where they may cause harm to civilians. In Iraq, UK forces are part of a coalition which does not adhere to internationally agreed standards of warfare.

Iraq Analysis Group, March 2005

http://electroniciraq.net/news/1928.shtml

10 comments:

Riggs is Crazy said...

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning. It smells like....Victory.

Max said...

Riggs, Riggs, Riggs [said while shaking my head sadly].

lets use pea shooters! said...

Gunpowder, TNT, C-4, etc, any and all explosives rely on an exothermic chemical reaction to function.
For that matter pepper spray, CS gas, Tear Gas, and other forms of "non-lethal" weapons are based on chemistry and could be termed chemical weapons, by the definitions being protrayed in the media.
I've always thought of chemical weapons as mustard gas, serin gas, nerve gas, as chemical weapons and so has everyone else.
If the use of WP as a weapon is considered "illegal" because it badly burns people and possibly kills them, thats one thing, but don't call it a chemical weapon, thats crap.
If Saddam had White Phosphorous instead of Mustard gas, do you honestly think we'd be in this mess?
In regards to civilians, Fallujah was warned ahead of the operation for all civilians to leave (an effort to minimize civilian casualties) so presumably all the US soldier would encounter is enemy combatants trying to kill him. No, I don't believe they were purposefully targeting civilians.
I suppose it's something new to talk about since continued bombings and targeting of civilians by terrorists is becoming old hat now.

Max said...

Pea Shooter,
Fair point about defining chemical weapons. But the fact is that there were civilians in Falluja and children were killed by WP. It's all well and good to warn people ahead of time but, like we saw in New Orleans, people don't always have the means to leave or somewhere to go. That makes the use of WP as a weapon in a town where there are still civilians, including children, wrong.

Sinister Steve said...

Maybe this wouldnt happen if insurgents would stop hiding among civilians and in places of worship, in cemetaries, in schools, in hotels etc.

Max said...

SS, also a fair point. But the fact is that they do hide amongst civilians, and that is not the fault of the children. We could avoid any further such "mistakes" by getting out of Iraq. But, of course, that is opening up a whole different can of worms.

beamis said...

The U.S. government is the most vile and aggressive regime since Nazi Germany. What else can I say?

I don't blame the so-called insurgents one damn bit for anything they may do to destroy and disrupt this terrible plague upon world civilization. Long live live the insurgents, which at last count were 80% home grown Iraqis tired of the Infidel defiling their land. I couldn't support anything more righteous.

Excuse me, Iraqi or Foreigner? said...

Thanks for the quick head count Beamis, of course you know insurgents are 80% home grown Iraqi's because you took a poll, right?

For the sake of arguement however, if you believe 80% of the insurgents are Iraqi's how can you praise them for killing their own men, woman and children?

beamis said...

Civil War baby! Burn baby burn!

Audie said...

I like the idea of using pea shooters, actually.

Unless someone could get their eye poked out.

That's my conditioned threshold for where to draw the line on acceptable levels of warfare.

Oh, and will someone tell Georgie to come in now? It's gettin' dark out, Babs is gettin' worried, his supper's gettin' cold, and more American soldiers are gettin' picked off while performing their sole duty in Iraq, which is to swat at a hornets nest and hope they don't get stung.

Yeah, it's sure gettin' dark out, Georgie. Oh, Geooooooorrrrrgieeeeeeeeee...........