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November 08, 2005

By Any Means Necessary

You know, with the sort of overwhelming military power the US Army wields, you'd think we wouldn't need to deploy incendiary weapons banned by the UN like white phosphorous. More to the point, you'd certainly not think we need it in a place like Fallujah, where our main enemies melted into the countryside and the largest task would always be winning over the citizenry. Scorching and charring anyone caught in our path there seems neither necessary nor wise.

November 8, 2005 | Permalink

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» Popham, Meet Sites from Confederate Yankee
British writer—I hesitate to credit him with the title journalist—Peter Popham, published an article the UK's Independent today titled "US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah." In the article, Popham claimed, in part: Powe... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 8, 2005 9:04:13 PM

» Popham, Meet Sites from Confederate Yankee
British writer—I hesitate to credit him with the title journalist—Peter Popham, published an article the UK's Independent today titled "US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah." In the article, Popham claimed, in part: Powe... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 8, 2005 9:06:34 PM

» Popham, Meet Sites from Confederate Yankee
Update: The conclusions I drew in the post below are almost completely wrong. See why here. British writer—I hesitate to credit him with the title journalist—Peter Popham, published an article the UK's Independent today titled "US forces 'used chemical... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 9, 2005 9:19:44 PM

Comments

The lucky ones melted into the countryside, the unlucky ones were melted into the pavement.

But hey, what better way to win hearts and minds than turning anyone they find into crispy critters. Perhaps they are under the impression that hearts and minds are easier to capture once they have been turned into greasy smoke.

Posted by: Naked Ape | Nov 8, 2005 11:08:24 AM

WP is neither banned nor a 'chemical' weapons. WP rounds are conventional weapons that have been around for years.

Posted by: John Cole | Nov 8, 2005 11:19:20 AM

well the whole iraq mess was unnecessary and unwise, so this is just continuing in the grand tradition of 'flowers and kisses' rumsfeld

Posted by: almostinfamous | Nov 8, 2005 12:45:54 PM

well the whole war shithole was unnecessary and unwise, so this just continues in the tradition of 'flowers and kisses' rumsfeld

Posted by: almostinfamous | Nov 8, 2005 12:47:42 PM

Ah, the retreat into technicalities: So WP is not technically a chemical weapon, nor is it technically banned. It's merely an indiscriminate antipersonnel weapon that uses its chemical properties to maim and kill in rather horrific ways. WP is nothing at all like an actual chemical weapon, which would be an indiscriminate antipersonnel weapon that uses its chemical properties to maim and kill in rather horrific ways.

Well, that's all good, then. I'm sure glad we cleared that up.

Posted by: paperwight | Nov 8, 2005 12:48:13 PM

well the whole war shithole was unnecessary and unwise, so this just continues in the tradition of 'flowers and kisses' rumsfeld

Posted by: almostinfamous | Nov 8, 2005 12:50:29 PM

Ah, the retreat into technicalities: So WP is not technically a chemical weapon, nor is it technically banned. It's merely an indiscriminate antipersonnel weapon that uses its chemical properties to maim and kill in rather horrific ways. WP is nothing at all like an actual chemical weapon, which would be an indiscriminate antipersonnel weapon that uses its chemical properties to maim and kill in rather horrific ways.

Well, that's all good, then. I'm sure glad we cleared that up.

Posted by: paperwight | Nov 8, 2005 12:53:32 PM

Get control of yourself paperwright.

It isn't 'technically' a chemical weapon because it isn;t a chemical weapon at all, much like the sun does not 'technically' rise in the west.

Likewise, it isn't 'technically' banned, it isn't banned at all.

I have fired WP shells/rounds. Have you?

Posted by: John Cole | Nov 8, 2005 12:55:55 PM

It is pretty amazing how rummy has shed the spot light so far. Must be the deordorant he uses that is just not translatable.

Posted by: calmo | Nov 8, 2005 12:55:59 PM

It is pretty amazing how rummy has shed the spot light so far. Must be the deordorant he uses that is just not translatable.

Posted by: calmo | Nov 8, 2005 12:56:45 PM

Oy. Typepad is generating errors on comments. My apologies for the multiple comments.

Posted by: paperwight | Nov 8, 2005 12:57:36 PM

Oy. Typepad is generating errors on comments. My apologies for the multiple comments.

Posted by: paperwight | Nov 8, 2005 12:58:22 PM

John Cole says: "I have fired WP shells/rounds. Have you?"
Into how many people, tough guy?

Posted by: Naked Ape | Nov 8, 2005 1:27:05 PM

Ok 'almost', that's 3 strikes. Why has rummy escaped our attention and shed any and all significant criticism?
That stinkhole has been given a relatively free ride in this debacle. Is it another weapon, maybe in his deodorant that disarms the critical faculties of the reporters?
Unreportably bad? And so not reported?

paperwight makes me think of the gap between our weaponry and the terrorist's. Not only the suicide bomber vs the technician who launches a cruise missle hundreds of miles away, but also the reportage/communication of the battle. Picking the bits of flesh off the clothesline vs screened photos/videos of the demolished target.

Posted by: calmo | Nov 8, 2005 1:28:29 PM

Ok 'almost', that's 3 strikes. Why has rummy escaped our attention and shed any and all significant criticism?
That stinkhole has been given a relatively free ride in this debacle. Is it another weapon, maybe in his deodorant that disarms the critical faculties of the reporters?
Unreportably bad? And so not reported?

paperwight makes me think of the gap between our weaponry and the terrorist's. Not only the suicide bomber vs the technician who launches a cruise missle hundreds of miles away, but also the reportage/communication of the battle. Picking the bits of flesh off the clothesline vs screened photos/videos of the demolished target.

Posted by: calmo | Nov 8, 2005 1:29:55 PM

John Cole says: "I have fired WP shells/rounds. Have you?"
Into how many people, tough guy?

Posted by: Naked Ape | Nov 8, 2005 1:31:01 PM

Wikipedia says:
Due to their pyrotechnic payload all tracers are incendiary in nature; although incendiary tracer bullets, some incorporating white phosphorus, are more effective.

also:
Burns to persons struck by particles of burning WP are usually much less extensive than napalm or metal incendiary burns, but are complicated by the toxicity of phosphorus, the release of phosphoric acid into the wounds, and the possibility of small particles continuing to smoulder for some time if undetected.

Reuters says:
U.S. forces in Iraq have used incendiary white phosphorus against civilians and a firebomb similar to napalm against military targets.


(emphasis by yours truly)


Posted by: almostinfamous | Nov 8, 2005 1:39:18 PM


well Looky here Wikipedia gives us more!

"Use of white phosphorus is not specifically banned by any treaty, however the 1980 Geneva Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons (Protocol III) prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilian populations or by air attack against military forces that are located within concentrations of civilians. The United States is among the nations that have not signed this protocol"

so technically you are right, but you owe tricky Dick Nixon and/or Gerry Ford big time for this one.

Posted by: almostinfamous | Nov 8, 2005 1:55:44 PM

White phosphorus squeaks out of chemical weapon classification because its destructive power comes from its thermal effect, not a strictly chem process. It is very toxic to humans that get hit with it though, basically settling into your liver and kidneys and turning into all matter of life destroying agents.
Funny, we saw fit to wag our fingers at the Saddam regime for having it, but didn't waste any time ourselves using on regular Iraqis.*


*not funny at all actually.

Posted by: sprocket | Nov 8, 2005 1:56:51 PM


well Looky here Wikipedia gives us more!

"Use of white phosphorus is not specifically banned by any treaty, however the 1980 Geneva Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons (Protocol III) prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilian populations or by air attack against military forces that are located within concentrations of civilians. The United States is among the nations that have not signed this protocol"

so technically you are right, but you owe tricky Dick Nixon and/or Gerry Ford big time for this one.

Posted by: almostinfamous | Nov 8, 2005 1:58:14 PM

White phosphorus squeaks out of chemical weapon classification because its destructive power comes from its thermal effect, not a strictly chem process. It is very toxic to humans that get hit with it though, basically settling into your liver and kidneys and turning into all matter of life destroying agents.
Funny, we saw fit to wag our fingers at the Saddam regime for having it, but didn't waste any time ourselves using on regular Iraqis.*


*not funny at all actually.

Posted by: sprocket | Nov 8, 2005 2:00:00 PM

Get control of yourself paperwright.

Apparently, disagreeing with Mr. Cole constitutes some kind of emotional breakdown. Good to know.

It isn't 'technically' a chemical weapon because it isn;t a chemical weapon at all, much like the sun does not 'technically' rise in the west.

Huh. So a weapon which burns flesh by chemical reaction, and when fired as an artillery shell can land pretty much anywhere isn't an indiscriminate antipersonnel chemical weapon? Okely dokely. I recognize that lines have to be drawn somewhere, but I'm not sure that this particular line is the right one.

From Outside the Beltway, to which the post on Mr. Cole's own blog this topic refers with approval:

Willie Pete is a militarily useful weapon in its capacity as a smoke-screening agent. Its secondary application as an incendiary weapon is more questionable; it certainly blurs the line with traditional chemical weapons such as mustard gas and other blister agents, which are banned. Further, aside from any moral qualms, their use in a counter-insurgency operation is debatable from a tactical standpoint.

Likewise, it isn't 'technically' banned, it isn't banned at all.

From the post at Mr. Cole's own site on the subject:

The Independent (UK) was wrong to describe White Phosphorous as a ‘chemical weapon.’ It is an incendiary weapon. Protocol III of the 1980 UN convention on weapons bans incendiary weapons such as white phosphorus, but while the US has ratified the convention it has not signed onto Protocol III.

More than 80 countries have ratified the protocol and no longer stock incindeary munitions such as white phosphorus. Make of that what you will.

Posted by: paperwight | Nov 8, 2005 2:05:25 PM

It'd be easier if Superman just used his heat vision to melt criminals on sight but instead, he goes through the hassle of tieing their revolvers in knots and handing them over to the police, because he believes in something greater than his own power, namely, a sense of knowing what is right and doing that and only that.

Taking short cuts is how you become Lex Luthor.

Posted by: Keith | Nov 8, 2005 3:38:07 PM

White phosphorous is not a chemical weapon.

White phosporous may been used in Fallujah consistant with its primary purpose, illumination of targets, but exatly zero evidence is presented for the claims that is was used widely and purposefully, as a weapon. In fact, the Independent provide no direct evidence at all.

And then there is simply teh application of logic.

WP is not very useful in an urban, close quarters battle environment that the Fallujah battlespace was. High explosives are much more effective in most environments but especially in close quarters, and pose far less of a threat to your own troops who are constantly moving forward into the areas where these weapons would have been used. Do you reall yhtink Marines would have poured hundreds of rounds of such an agent into an area that they would then immediatle occupy? The story shows a complete ignorance of tactics or even a shred of logic.

A corrpesonding point is readily avialable video from inside Fallujah that ALL of you have likely seen.

Does ANYONE remember Kevin Sites? Ignore the blowhard from the Independent that said no reporters were present. Kevin Sites was the embedded videojournalist that shot video of a Marine shooting a wounded insurgent inside a mosque as he followed them through Fallujah (as a side note, the Marine was cleared).

You will notice, as you watch the film, that NONE of the Marines had the chemical protective gear needed to survive in the WP-saturated environment that
the Independent claims existed. The story is easily proven false by the video evidence provided by journalists who were there.

You have a simple choice: do you believe an story that provides no direct evidence, or do you trust your lying eyes?

Posted by: Confederate Yankee | Nov 8, 2005 4:28:06 PM

Something tells me this story would be alot bigger were it true.

Posted by: Adrock | Nov 8, 2005 5:03:42 PM

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