Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

And I Helped

This post is about the dogs of war. I was going to post a photo here, but I find I can't. Instead I will provide a description of the effects of white phosphorus munitions. This from those friendly, family owned and operated folks at

White phosphorus burns spontaneously in air. Contact with these particles can cause local burns. These weapons are particularly nasty because white phosphorus continues to burn until it disappears. If service members are hit by pieces of white phosphorus, it could burn right down to the bone. Remove quickly all clothing affected by phosphorus to prevent phosphorus burning through to skin. If this is impossible, plunge skin or clothing affected by phosphorus in cold water or moisten strongly to extinguish or prevent fire. Then immediately remove affected clothing and rinse affected skin areas with cold sodium bicarbonate solution or with cold water. Moisten skin and remove visible phosphorus(preferably under water) with squared object (knife-back etc.) or tweezers. Do not touch phosphorus with fingers!
In other words, if you see victims whose flesh has burned off to the bone underneath their clothing, as you would have in the photo from Fallujah I did not post, you may well suspect considerable exposure to white phosphorus. Though the phrase "These weapons are particularly nasty" seems to the point, in the same article these humankind-as-pit bull terrier thinkers offer this:

The use of white phosphorus or fuel air explosives are not prohibited or restricted by Protocol II of the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention (CCWC), the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects.

So, they are particularly nasty, but not excessively injurious. This may explain there being some difference of opinion, as well as the confusion of reportage related to use or uses of these weapons in the assault on Fallujah. It seems that "Willy Pete" is close enough to a chemical weapon to have stirred up a bit of controversy early on in the events of last November. The ghastly effects of WP led to cries of chemical warfare from Arab and peace fronts alike, to the point where our government had to respond beyond scraping up and burying topsoil and accompanying families to burials in order to limit photography of victims.

And so we did what we do best, we lied. This is our State Department, ironically appearing in a statement containing a little morality lesson in how untruths gain momentum as they are repeated:

Finally, some news accounts have claimed that U.S. forces have used "outlawed" phosphorus shells in Fallujah. Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. U.S. forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters. There is a great deal of misinformation feeding on itself about U.S. forces allegedly using "outlawed" weapons in Fallujah. The facts are that U.S. forces are not using any illegal weapons in Fallujah or anywhere else in Iraq.

Which is what leads us to the reality that the time has come when such disinformation is simply not going to fly. The blogoshere consists of hundreds of thousands of little enthusiasts searching every little nook and cranny of the WWW for the truth. We aren't pros. We don't get the facts all the time. We spread our own misconceptions and untruths. But by the time an issue has percolated down, truth is outed with unprecedented regularity. Thus we have this account from none other than the US Army's Field Artillery March/April edition, a rundown on the Fallujah operation from the mouths of those good old boys at Ft. Sill, OK, whose enthusiasm for blowing people up apparently can get in the way of supporting the company line:

b. 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. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.
Well, at least we wouldn't use such a weapon indiscriminantly, would we? From the same article:
We learned to use indirect fires early and often in large volumes. During the course of the battle, more than 2,000 artillery and mortar rounds were fired and more than 10 tons of precision Air Force munitions were dropped.
And then there's "napalm". The civilized world banned napalm after the Vietnam War, from which nobody living in those days will ever forget the picture of the young Kim Phuk running from her napalmed village with her clothes burned off. This civilized world excludes us. We have improved our napalm-like weapon to something called the Mark-77. I say "napalm like" because after numerous outsider and insider contrary reports the DOD/DOS brain trust amended this:

Your story ('Dead bodies everywhere', by Lindsay Murdoch, March 22, 2003) claiming US forces are using napalm in Iraq, is patently false. The US took napalm out of service in the early 1970s. We completed destruction of our last batch of napalm on April 4, 2001, and no longer maintain any stocks of napalm. —Jeff A. Davis, Lieutenant Commander, US Navy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense ― Sydney [Australia] Morning Herald
to this:

Although all napalm in the U.S. arsenal had been destroyed by 2001, Mark-77 firebombs, which have a similar effect to napalm, were used against enemy positions in 2003. ―usinfo disinfo from the State Dept.
Explanation for this "misunderstanding" was offered in that the brand name Napalm (DOW made billions on it) had been dropped. Well, we all stand corrected, you miserable, petulant little10 year old miscreants! Maybe our confusion stems from things like the DOD's own publication Defend AMERICA, which offered this in its Feb.12th, 2003 edition (there seems to be no end to the slick publications our tax dollars pay for):

Everything from hand grenades to 2,000-pound bombs and napalm are shipped, ready for use whenever 3rd MAW needs them.
The State Department says we didn't use nap― of fuel and oxidizers that turn to burning jelly that sticks to everything―in Fallujah. This time we really, really mean it, cross our fingers and hope to die. And anyway, as far as we're concerned it ain't illegal, as we still have our unsigned copy of protocol whatever it was that you all stupidly agreed to.

Shake and bake, man. Onward, Christian soldiers.


At 1:42 PM, Blogger Bullock said...

The end result of all wars is horror, no matter if you are using arrows and spears or the latest flesh-burning chemicals and dirty bombs. The US has been the biggest maker on the planet of war weapondry since WW II as political leaders found that wars are conveniently 'good for the economy'.The irony in going to war in Iraq over the possibility of WMD is that these horrific weapons might have actually been used against their creators. Which of course, why we shouldn't ever make them in the first place.
Talking about them just promotes and prolongs the rhetoric of saber-wielding and saber rattling.


Post a Comment

<< Home