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Old 11-10-2005, 04:33 PM   #31
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Originally posted by Dreadsox
Even if the intent was for something else, the undesired effect is too costly in the court of public opinion.
What about the human cost? This weapon is absolutely horrendous, it quite literally burns away a person's skin to the bone. It is an incredibly horrific and inhumane weapon and I think every person who cares about human life should be opposed to its use purely for the reason that it causes indiscriminate suffering and death to anyone in its path.

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Old 11-10-2005, 04:41 PM   #32
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The US is not among the 82 countries that signed the 1980 Geneva Convention, which is where the legal dispute here comes from. So, for what it's worth, no treaty violation could technically be said to be involved.

The Convention itself is, unfortunately, ambiguous about whether or not such a use of WP would be illegal. Here are the relevant sections:
Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Protocol III: Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons.
Geneva, 10 October 1980

Article 1
For the purpose of this Protocol:

1. "Incendiary weapon" means any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat, or combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target.
(a) Incendiary weapons can take the form of, for example, flame throwers, fougasses, shells, rockets, grenades, mines, bombs and other containers of incendiary substances.
(b) "Incendiary weapons" do not include:
(i) Munitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminants, tracers, smoke or signalling systems;
2. "Concentration of civilians" means any concentration of civilians, be it permanent or temporary, such as in inhabited parts of cities, or inhabited towns or villages, or as in camps or columns of refugees or evacuees, or groups of nomads.
3. "Military objective" means, so far as objects are concerned, any object which by its nature, location, purpose or use makes an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.
Article 2
Protection of civilians and civilian objects

1. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons.
2. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons.
It's clear that the use of incendiary weapons in a setting like Fallujah would be illegal under this protocol. What's not clear is under what circumstances the use of WP *specifically* might be permitted. It indisputably has more potential to kill and maim than most other devices or substances that could be argued to have merely "incedental incendiary effects." It is also by definition an aereal weapon, incapable of being targeted so as to discriminate between militants and noncombatants. Under what circumstances, if any, might the use of WP not fit into the protected "incidental" category? The Convention is troublingly silent on this matter.

As a footnote, our military's own Rules of Engagement do specify that "If civilians are in the area, close air support, white phosphorus and incendiary weapons are prohibited without approval from above Division level." The fact that WP is distinguished from, yet associated with (Geneva-banned) incendiary weapons in this context, strongly implies recognition that WP is not just another illuminatory device, and that it has high potential to kill and maim civilians.

In my view, this is reason enough to explicitly ban the use of WP in civilian areas, as defined by the Convention.

Anyone know the detailed version of why we didn't sign this treaty?

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Old 11-10-2005, 04:43 PM   #33
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Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees

What about the human cost? This weapon is absolutely horrendous, it quite literally burns away a person's skin to the bone. It is an incredibly horrific and inhumane weapon and I think every person who cares about human life should be opposed to its use purely for the reason that it causes indiscriminate suffering and death to anyone in its path.
Name a weapon that does not have a human cost. I am not denying it...I am saying I do not agree with the use of it. It is a technicality if they were not using it in battle as a weapon. Same effect.
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Old 11-10-2005, 05:26 PM   #34
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Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees

What about the human cost?
power is granted and kept by public opinion

flag draped coffins will not be televised

"smart bombs'

''the most humane war ever fought"

"better to fight them there
than here"

sways public opinion

the only human cost that gets mentioned is "How sad that 2000 human lives (US) were lost in Iraq.
Honor their deaths! We will sacrifice more."

Pentagon says we do not do body counts.

Public opinion
the scumbags position themselves

to keep power.
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Old 11-10-2005, 06:21 PM   #35
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Interesting how the clothing remained intact, they must be using a special type of WP that doesn't ignite fabric.
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Old 11-10-2005, 06:41 PM   #36
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I don't know that it ever ignites fabric. The burns it causes to people are chemical in nature and their severity comes more from the high lipid solubility (think dermal tissue) of phosphoric acid--the form in which it falls to the ground--than from the heat generated by oxidation (which is what ignites it). It doesn't burn all that hot.
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Old 11-10-2005, 06:52 PM   #37
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This really has no relevance to the present issue but interestingly, according to Wikipedia, WP was first developed into a weapon by the Fenian Brotherhood in the 19th century.
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Old 11-14-2005, 10:57 AM   #38
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Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees

Since I was the mod who moved this thread I feel compelled to ask: what on earth makes you believe that I, of all people, am in favour of burying the horrible news about what's happening to the Iraqi people under occupation? I have consistently opposed this war since it was first advocated and I continue to strongly oppose the occupation. I've participated in numerous anti-war protests as well as participating in and helping to organise other anti-war activities. I'm currently involved in campaigning against the occupation, which believe it or not, involves making people aware of the suffering of the Iraqi people under occupation. Why, then, do you think I would be in favour of 'burying' this news here in FYM?

I appreciate that you dislike the idea of the War sub-forum, but this forum exists and is to be used for threads discussing the war. The fact that you dislike a policy of this site does not mean you're free to ignore it and the mods shouldn't challenge you. There are plenty of people who think we shouldn't have a rule forbidding personal attacks but that doesn't mean they're free to ignore the rule and start calling each other names.

And I really would appreciate you explaining why it is you believe I'm in favour of burying bad news from Iraq, especially in the light of my own consistent opposition to the war and occupation.


sorry i didn't see this sooner -- to be blunt, i haven't checked back on this thread because i assumed that it would die in the War forum as most threads here usually do. and i was away from the computer all weekend.

i apologize that you think there was some sort of conspiracy -- i think you were reading a bit too much into my comments, but i can understand how you would have drawn that conclusion. it wasn't that there was some sort of deliberate action on your or Interference's part to "bury" the thread and more that i was pointing out a parallel between what i view as the MSM "burying" many stories of the specific conduct of this war where stuff like this flies under the radar. so, no conspiracy mongering, just pointing out parallels.
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Old 11-16-2005, 10:26 AM   #39
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US forces used 'chemical weapon' in Iraq

from the Independent UK

The Pentagon has admitted US forces used white phosphorus as "an incendiary weapon" during the assault last year on Fallujah.

A Pentagon spokesman's comments last night appeared to contradict the US ambassador to London who said that American forces did not use white phosphorus as a weapon.

Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable said that white phosphorus - which is normally used to lay smokescreens - was not covered by international conventions on chemical weapons.

But Professor Paul Rodgers of the University of Bradford department of peace studies said it probably would fall into the category of chemical weapons if it was used directly against people.

A recent documentary by the Italian state broadcaster, RAI, claimed that Iraqi civilians, including women and children, had died of burns caused by white phosphorus during the assault on Fallujah.

The report has been strenuously denied by the US, however Col Venable disclosed that it had been used to dislodge enemy fighters from entrenched positions in the city.

"White phosphorus is a conventional munition. It is not a chemical weapon. They are not outlawed or illegal," he said on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme.

"We use them primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens or target marking in some cases. However it is an incendiary weapon and may be used against enemy combatants."

Asked directly if it was used as an offensive weapon during the siege of Fallujah, he replied: "Yes, it was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants".

He added: "When you have enemy forces that are in covered positions that your high explosive artillery rounds are not having an impact on and you wish to get them out of those positions, one technique is to fire a white phosphorus round into the position because the combined effects of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about the explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so that you can kill them with high explosives," he said.

However in a letter yesterday to The Independent, the US ambassador to London, Robert Tuttle, denied that white phosphorus was deployed as a weapon.

"US forces participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to use appropriate lawful conventional weapons against legitimate targets," he said.

"US forces do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons."

Col Venable said that a similar denial on the US State Department's website had been entered more than a year ago and was based on "poor information ".

Prof Rodgers said white phosphorus would be considered as a chemical weapon under international conventions if it was "deliberately aimed at people to have a chemical effect".

He told PM: "It is not counted under the chemical weapons convention in its normal use but, although it is a matter of legal niceties, it probably does fall into the category of chemical weapons if it is used for this kind of purpose directly against people."

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said later: " A vital part of the effort in Iraq is to win the battle for hearts and minds.

"The use of this weapon may technically have been legal, but its effects are such that it will hand a propaganda victory to the insurgency.

"The denial of use followed by the admission will simply convince the doubters that there was something to hide."

The Shadow Foreign Secretary Liam Fox said on today's BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "Clearly there needs to be more openness coming from the Pentagon but the claims at the moment are just claims.

"And I think that, although white phosphorus is a brutal weapon, we need to remember that we were talking about some pretty brutal insurgents. These were the people who were hacking off hostages' heads with knives."
"I can't change the world, but I can change the world in me." - Bono

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Old 11-16-2005, 12:26 PM   #40
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This shows we did use it as a weapon.

The US used chemical weapons in Iraq - and then lied about it

Now we know napalm and phosphorus bombs have been dropped on Iraqis, why have the hawks failed to speak out?

By George Monbiot

11/15/05 "The Guardian" -- -- Did US troops use chemical weapons in Falluja? The answer is yes. The proof is not to be found in the documentary broadcast on Italian TV last week, which has generated gigabytes of hype on the internet. It's a turkey, whose evidence that white phosphorus was fired at Iraqi troops is flimsy and circumstantial. But the bloggers debating it found the smoking gun.

The first account they unearthed in a magazine published by the US army. In the March 2005 edition of Field Artillery, officers from the 2nd Infantry's fire support element boast about their role in the attack on Falluja in November last year: "White Phosphorous. WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE [high explosive]. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

The second, in California's North County Times, was by a reporter embedded with the marines in the April 2004 siege of Falluja. "'Gun up!' Millikin yelled ... grabbing a white phosphorus round from a nearby ammo can and holding it over the tube. 'Fire!' Bogert yelled, as Millikin dropped it. The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call 'shake'n'bake' into... buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week."
White phosphorus is not listed in the schedules of the Chemical Weapons Convention. It can be legally used as a flare to illuminate the battlefield, or to produce smoke to hide troop movements from the enemy. Like other unlisted substances, it may be deployed for "Military purposes... not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare". But it becomes a chemical weapon as soon as it is used directly against people. A chemical weapon can be "any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm".

White phosphorus is fat-soluble and burns spontaneously on contact with the air. According to globalsecurity.org: "The burns usually are multiple, deep, and variable in size. The solid in the eye produces severe injury. The particles continue to burn unless deprived of atmospheric oxygen... If service members are hit by pieces of white phosphorus, it could burn right down to the bone." As it oxidises, it produces smoke composed of phosphorus pentoxide. According to the standard US industrial safety sheet, the smoke "releases heat on contact with moisture and will burn mucous surfaces... Contact... can cause severe eye burns and permanent damage."

Until last week, the US state department maintained that US forces used white phosphorus shells "very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes". They were fired "to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters". Confronted with the new evidence, on Thursday it changed its position. "We have learned that some of the information we were provided ... is incorrect. White phosphorous shells, which produce smoke, were used in Fallujah not for illumination but for screening purposes, ie obscuring troop movements and, according to... Field Artillery magazine, 'as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes...' The article states that US forces used white phosphorus rounds to flush out enemy fighters so that they could then be killed with high explosive rounds." The US government, in other words, appears to admit that white phosphorus was used in Falluja as a chemical weapon.

The invaders have been forced into a similar climbdown over the use of napalm in Iraq. In December 2004, the Labour MP Alice Mahon asked the British armed forces minister Adam Ingram "whether napalm or a similar substance has been used by the coalition in Iraq (a) during and (b) since the war". "No napalm," the minister replied, " has been used by coalition forces in Iraq either during the war-fighting phase or since."

This seemed odd to those who had been paying attention. There were widespread reports that in March 2003 US marines had dropped incendiary bombs around the bridges over the Tigris and the Saddam Canal on the way to Baghdad. The commander of Marine Air Group 11 admitted that "We napalmed both those approaches". Embedded journalists reported that napalm was dropped at Safwan Hill on the border with Kuwait. In August 2003 the Pentagon confirmed that the marines had dropped "mark 77 firebombs". Though the substance these contained was not napalm, its function, the Pentagon's information sheet said, was "remarkably similar". While napalm is made from petrol and polystyrene, the gel in the mark 77 is made from kerosene and polystyrene. I doubt it makes much difference to the people it lands on.

So in January this year, the MP Harry Cohen refined Mahon's question. He asked "whether mark 77 firebombs have been used by coalition forces". "The United States have confirmed to us that they have not used Mark 77 firebombs, which are essentially napalm canisters, in Iraq at any time. The US government had lied to him. Mr Ingram had to retract his statements in a private letter to the MPs in June.

We were told that the war with Iraq was necessary for two reasons. Saddam Hussein possessed biological and chemical weapons and might one day use them against another nation. And the Iraqi people needed to be liberated from his oppressive regime, which had, among its other crimes, used chemical weapons to kill them. Tony Blair, Colin Powell, William Shawcross, David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, Ann Clwyd and many others referred, in making their case, to Saddam's gassing of the Kurds in Halabja in 1988. They accused those who opposed the war of caring nothing for the welfare of the Iraqis.

Given that they care so much, why has none of these hawks spoken out against the use of unconventional weapons by coalition forces? Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP who turned from peace campaigner to chief apologist for an illegal war, is, as far as I can discover, the only one of these armchair warriors to engage with the issue. In May this year, she wrote to the Guardian to assure us that reports that a "modern form of napalm" has been used by US forces "are completely without foundation. Coalition forces have not used napalm - either during operations in Falluja, or at any other time". How did she know? The foreign office minister told her. Before the invasion, Clwyd travelled through Iraq to investigate Saddam's crimes against his people. She told the Commons that what she found moved her to tears. After the invasion, she took the minister's word at face value, when a 30-second search on the internet could have told her it was bunkum. It makes you wonder whether she really gave a damn about the people for whom she claimed to be campaigning.

Saddam, facing a possible death sentence, is accused of mass murder, torture, false imprisonment and the use of chemical weapons. He is certainly guilty on all counts. So, it now seems, are those who overthrew him.

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Old 11-16-2005, 06:14 PM   #41
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Originally posted by Dreadsox
I do not think they used it as a weapon.

We were mislead and

flatout LIED to again.

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