One Last Time

I will say this one last time, and then I give up.

WHITE PHOSPHORUS IS NOT A CHEMICAL WEAPON.

You can try to gin up a scandal about WP use in Fallujah all you want, and you are more than free to parse the inconsistent statements from State and the DoD (which, btw, may be honest mistakes and not intentional lies- a novel concept), but recognize that you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground about munitions if you insist WP is a ‘chemical weapon,’ and that you are merely smearing the military, the country, and the troops through your flagrant ignorance.

Oh, and btw- if WP is a chemical weapon, Saddam DID have a chemical weapons program and you can stop calling Bush a liar about WMD.

Party on, Wayne.






106 replies
  1. 1
    jg says:

    Bush didn’t scare us with stories of chemwems, it was nukes. He didn’t have any, let it go dude.

    WP is not a chemwem but how was it used? Correctly, then no story. Incorrectly and we have a story, a shitty one but its a story.

    Remember yesterday (great now I’ll be singing that song all day) when you yelled at Slide because he didn’t see that you were actually zinging Bush when you attacked Dobson? You’re Slide when it comes to this issue. ITS NOT AN ATTACK ONTHE TROOPS. Some may be bad typers or just lousy at making their point but no one hates the troops, teh men in hteatre doing ourr fighting. Its the guys giving the orders that is the problem, the ones who put them in harms way. I don’t begrudge troops for any action giving their situation.

  2. 2
    Jill says:

    The troops are at the mercy of the POTUS, DOD, their commanders, etc. No one is smearing the troops. Get over that lame line once and for all.

  3. 3
    John Cole says:

    The only way to use it inappropriately would be to use it on civilians, and then it STILL WOULD NOT BE A CHEMICAL WEAPON.

    It would be a conventional weapon used on civilians, which is bad, but no worse than lining civilians up against a wall and machine-gunning them to death.

    And yes, if you assert that our troops used ‘chemical weapons’ on people, you are smearing the troops. Soldiers do not have to follow unlawful orders.

    Really, you all don;t know what the hell you are talking about.

  4. 4
    jaime says:

    No. WP is not a chemical weapon. It’s just a chemical that can be used as a weapon. The chasm between the two definitions is enormous.

  5. 5
    Steve says:

    I’m not sure it’s such a slam dunk. The BBC has this to say:

    The debate about WP centres partly though not wholly on whether it is really a chemical weapon. Such weapons are outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to which the United States is a party.

    The CWC is monitored by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague. Its spokesman Peter Kaiser was asked if WP was banned by the CWC and he had this to say:

    “No it’s not forbidden by the CWC if it is used within the context of a military application which does not require or does not intend to use the toxic properties of white phosphorus. White phosphorus is normally used to produce smoke, to camouflage movement.

    “If that is the purpose for which the white phosphorus is used, then that is considered under the Convention legitimate use.

    “If on the other hand the toxic properties of white phosphorus, the caustic properties, are specifically intended to be used as a weapon, that of course is prohibited, because the way the Convention is structured or the way it is in fact applied, any chemicals used against humans or animals that cause harm or death through the toxic properties of the chemical are considered chemical weapons.”

    It seems to me there are more people taking the “chemical weapons” side of the issue than just a few ignorant lefty bloggers. Either way, I hardly expect the troops in the field to sit around discussing the nuances of chemical weapons treaties. If anything improper was done, I find it hard to blame the troops, when there’s nothing that was obviously illegal about the order. The responsibility would lie with whoever authorized the use of WP in this manner.

  6. 6
    Blue Neponset says:

    The people who want to believe WP is a chemical weapon are going to believe it no matter what is said to them.

    I hate to agree with John on this, but you are smearing the troops if you accuse them of war crimes. Using chemical weapons is a war crime and intentionally targeting civilians is also a war crime. I don’t think the people who believe WP is a chemical weapon realize how serious the charges they make are.

  7. 7
    kemk says:

    Are chemical weapons the same as weapons of mass destruction? Is a Daisy Cutter a WMD?

  8. 8
    Steve S says:

    Agent Orange was a defoliant, not a chemical weapon.

    That didn’t stop people from getting sick.

    John, I get your point. But you should at least acknowledge the points others are making, or you’ll continue to be fighting this argument because you’re being purposefully obtuse.

  9. 9
    docG says:

    Isn’t this about the third last time for this topic?

    Oh, and btw- if WP is a chemical weapon, Saddam DID have a chemical weapons program and you can stop calling Bush a liar about WMD.

    With your logic, since I am now convinced that WP is NOT a chemical weapon, then I must conclude Bush is a liar about WMD. Kind of thought so, but thanks for the confirmation.

  10. 10
    John Cole says:

    Steve- When people start to acknowledge WP is not a chemical weapon and retract their baseless charges that we used chemical weapons on civilians, I will consider examining their ‘points.’

  11. 11
    capelza says:

    I don’t care if it was a “chemical weapon”, and I don’t blame the troops. However, was watching the BBC World News last night and saw this story. Have been out of the loop for a bit so it was news to me.

    If WP was not that big a deal, why did the Pentagon and or DOD intially deny it’s use or that it was only for illumination and now are admitting that it was used against insurgents? Really I am just asking…also, when will the DOD/Pentagon realise that everytime they have to “clarify” something like this, it only makes it worse?

  12. 12
    John Cole says:

    With your logic, since I am now convinced that WP is NOT a chemical weapon, then I must conclude Bush is a liar about WMD. Kind of thought so, but thanks for the confirmation.

    False dichotomy.

    The presence of Chemical weapons in Iraq would mean that Bush was not lying about WMD, but the absence of chemical weapons does not mean he was lying- he could, as many of us believe, just have been wrong.

  13. 13
    Pb says:

    I will say this one last time, and then I give up.
    JOHN KERRY IS NOT AN ALIEN.
    You can try to gin up a scandal about Kerry’s alien heritage all you want, and you are more than free to parse the inconsistent statements from Kerry and Bush (which, btw, may be honest mistakes and not intentional lies- a novel concept), but recognize that you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground about munitions if you insist John Kerry is an ‘alien’ and that you are merely smearing him, and by extension his country, the military he served in, and the troops through your flagrant ignorance.
    Oh, and btw- if John Kerry *is* an alien, then all those people calling him ‘unamerican’ would be completely right, but for the wrong reasons.
    Party on, Wayne.

  14. 14
    Jill says:

    And in the heat of a battle should the troops stop for a quick discussion of the legality of their actions?

    What if the commanders are ill-informed or misleading in their build-up to a battle? Are the troops to blame because they believed their commanders?

  15. 15
    jg says:

    Of course I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t know anyone in the military or anyone who has ever been in the military and I hate anything in OD green.

    Soldiers don’t have to follow unlawful orders but if they did I still blame the asshole giving the order not the guy following it. If I had to pick one of them to go to jail guess which I’d pick?

    The administration is using you John. Big time. Everyime they get into a tight place with this war they turn to you. They shout ‘they’re attacking the troops’ and a switch goes off in your head. All rationality exits. You lose the ability to see an issue clearly because you feel your told you’re under attack and you must defend your beloved military. You will no longer argue whatever point was being made, you will get in the face of whoever is trying to make a valid point and scream ‘ troop hater, traitor, Al Qaeda lover’ or some other stupid shit and shout down any dissent (and you have no problem with dissent ironically). This is exactly what the administration wants. They are using you, (current and former military) to put down any dissent on war policy. Tool.

  16. 16
    Steve says:

    Steve- When people start to acknowledge WP is not a chemical weapon and retract their baseless charges that we used chemical weapons on civilians, I will consider examining their ‘points.’

    But John, the quote I linked says that WP is a chemical weapon under international law when used in this manner, at least according to one authority. Maybe he’s wrong, but I just said that the issue doesn’t seem entirely settled to me.

  17. 17
    Vlad says:

    I honestly don’t care whether WP is a chemical weapon or not.

    From what I’ve read/seen, it seems like WP was used in unacceptable ways in Falluja, as a result of poor decisions on the strategic level. As such, if any soldiers are guilty of “war crimes” (and some might be), the fault would lie more with the people who decided on the approach than with the ones who implemented it.

  18. 18
    Blue Neponset says:

    Vlad,

    What war crimes did the soldiers or their superiors commit in Falluja?

  19. 19
    jg says:

    The presence of Chemical weapons in Iraq would mean that Bush was not lying about WMD, but the absence of chemical weapons does not mean he was lying- he could, as many of us believe, just have been wrong.

    No one ever doubted he had chemicals and some bio agent laying around. We were told it wwas weaponised and ready to use. NOT EVEN CLOSE. And the WMD threat was nuclear not chemical. The fact that he still had a drum or two ar three of some chemical agent is not evidence Bush didn’t lie, just that he didn’t lie about that. A jar of chemicals ain’t a wqeapon even if you knock it over. The man couldn’t deliver it yet we were told he could. Lie, right?

  20. 20
    Shygetz says:

    WP was not used as a caustic agent, it was used as an incindiary. It has been used for a while as such, and is not illegal. If you think that the US use of it was wrong, then you should also think that our use of other conventional munitions was wrong. Where were the posts saying “US used HE weapons in Fallujah! We suck!” WP was legal, and it was used against the same targets as HE. So, what’s the beef here? Why is our use of WP being singled out?

  21. 21
    Darrell says:

    And the WMD threat was nuclear not chemical

    Re-read what was said at that time. The WMD threat discussed was chemical and bio.

  22. 22
    John Cole says:

    Why is our use of WP being singled out?

    Make sure you let me know if you find anything approaching an answer to this question.

  23. 23
    neil says:

    Saddam used white phosphorus against American troops? Can I get a link?

  24. 24
    neil says:

    Yeah, Darrell, you don’t have to remind me about Condoleezza’s famous statement that “we don’t want the smoking gun to come in the form of a mustard gas cloud.” That sort of thing just sticks with you.

  25. 25
    Darrell says:

    Why is our use of WP being singled out?

    Because the left hates George Bush so much that they would lie their asses off smearing our troops. It’s who they are.

  26. 26
    jg says:

    Re-read what was said at that time. The WMD threat discussed was chemical and bio.

    No it wasn’t. The threat of a ‘mushroon cloud’ is what lead us to war not chem or bio weapons. They were incidental. The threat with chem and bio was that he’d use them on us if we invaded, not that he would attack us with them. They was a bullshit story of him giving chem and bio to terrorists but those ideas were absurd.

  27. 27
    Darrell says:

    No neil, chemical weapons were ‘never’ mentioned. Ask jg

  28. 28
    ppGaz says:

    The most important thing here is that civilians who might have been “carmelized” by these perfiectly legal weapons were told that they were legal, and that they are NOT checmical weapons. Therefore, they have no legitimate complaint. Did they think war was like a soccer match? Little wonder that these people didn’t have what it takes to get rid of Saddam Hussein and clean up their own backyard, leaving good old Uncle Sam to have to come along and do it for them.

  29. 29
    neil says:

    Darrell, you are the only person who has used the word ‘never’ in this thread. You are also the biggest liar in this thread. Coincidence? Well, no.

  30. 30
    John Cole says:

    No. There was no concern about Chemical or Biological weapons at all. They were hardly discussed.

    Bush’s 2003 SOTU address:

    Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm. He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations, and for the opinion of the world. The 108 U.N. inspectors were sent to conduct — were not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq’s regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened.

    The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax — enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn’t accounted for that material. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

    The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin — enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn’t accounted for that material. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

    Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He’s not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

    U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them — despite Iraq’s recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

    From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.

    The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary; he is deceiving. From intelligence sources we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses.

    Iraq is blocking U-2 surveillance flights requested by the United Nations. Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say. Intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with U.N. inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families.

    Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction. But why? The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate, or attack.

    With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region. And this Congress and the America people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

    Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans — this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes. (Applause.)

    Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option. (Applause.)

    Next, please.

  31. 31
    Krista says:

    Yay Darrell…it’s been awhile since you’ve trotted out your tried-and-true “it’s who they are” gross generalization when criticizing those with whom you don’t agree. I was wondering when it was going to make a reappearance. I’ll have to try it sometimes, as it seems to work for you quite nicely. Let’s see…hmmm…”The right loves George Bush so much that they would defend any and all criminal acts associated with his administration. It’s who they are.”

    Hm.. No…I don’t think I enjoyed that. Gross overgeneralization takes a lot more bile than I’m capable of producing. I’ll leave it to the expert.

    As you were.

  32. 32
    neil says:

    Also, I really have to take issue with John Cole’s bullshit about ‘smearing the troops.’ This is disingenuous and it surely stands in the way of you convincing anybody — they can clearly see that rather than try to resolve the question, you are throwing shit to keep people from raising it. Considering that this was the main tactic used by the Bush administration to keep people from resolving the question of whether war in Iraq was justified, you are probably just strengthening their convinction. Fool me once, shame on you…

  33. 33
    Shygetz says:

    The most important thing here is that civilians who might have been “carmelized” by these perfiectly legal weapons were told that they were legal, and that they are NOT checmical weapons. Therefore, they have no legitimate complaint. Did they think war was like a soccer match? Little wonder that these people didn’t have what it takes to get rid of Saddam Hussein and clean up their own backyard, leaving good old Uncle Sam to have to come along and do it for them.

    If people had a problem with the attack on Fallujah, I can understand. Don’t agree, but I can understand. But why is everyone up in arms about WP when they weren’t up in arms about HE being used against the same targets?

  34. 34
    John Cole says:

    Neil= Claiming our troops committed war crimes using chemical weapons against civilians is a FUCKING SMEAR, whether you get it or not.

  35. 35
    Pb says:

    Why is our use of WP being singled out?

    Maybe this will help. According to the BBC:

    What is the current furore about?

    The row began when Italy’s state television network Rai claimed that white phosphorus had been used against civilians in a “massive and indiscriminate way” during the Falluja offensive.

    Its documentary, Falluja – The Hidden Massacre, alleged that Iraqi civilians, including women and children, had died of the burns it caused.

    The allegations prompted demonstrations outside the US embassy in Rome by anti-war protesters and left-wing Italian politicians. Some European Parliament members have also demanded an inquiry into the munitions’ use.
    Critics say phosphorus bombs should not be used in areas where there is a risk they could cause serious burns or death to civilians.

    Some have claimed the use of white phosphorus contravenes the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. This bans the use of any “toxic chemical” weapons which causes “death, harm or temporary incapacitation to humans or animals through their chemical action on life processes”.

    Professor Paul Rogers, of the University of Bradford’s department of peace studies, told the BBC that white phosphorus could probably be considered a chemical weapon if deliberately aimed at civilians.

    Washington’s initial denial of the use of white phosphorus as a weapon against enemy forces and subsequent retraction have been seen as damaging to its public image – despite the fact it has breached no treaty obligations.

  36. 36
    Shygetz says:

    Because the left hates George Bush so much that they would lie their asses off smearing our troops. It’s who they are.

    Nah, I hate Bush as much as the next guy (and polls suggest the next guy probably hates him a lot). Most people here would consider me a leftie. So that’s not it.

  37. 37
    Darrell says:

    Krista, WP is an approved-for-combat substance which is quite useful in saving the lives of our troops. This is WELL established fact. So when the left calls WP “chemical weapons” used to “target civilians” and similar such language, are you suggesting that their intentions are anything other than f*cking despicable as hell? These people making such smears on our military are not noble, they’re not honest, and they’re virtually entirely on the left. Draw your own conclusions

  38. 38

    Ammo Resupply:

    The UN Convention bans the use of incendiary weapons against civilans, not against humans. See for yourself:
    http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/515?OpenDocument

    Of course any deliberate engagement or targeting of civilians is
    already a war crime. so that the US has not signed this one is not of especial import except to say that we aren’t bound by it expressly.

    White Phosphorus is not banned.

    It also isn’t a chemical weapon. We are signtory to the Chemical Weapons Convention which defines chemical weapons. See here:
    http://www.opcw.org/html/db/cw.....meset.html

    So it isn’t a chemical weapon and it isn’t banned.

    Indiscriminate use is. The stories circulating do not support that
    contention. See here:
    http://www.nctimes.com/article....._30_504_10

    Cpl. Bogert received the coordinates for the targets and recorded them on a map. This is proper procedure. He’s receiving coordinates from a Forward Observer, indirect fire weapons never see their targets, the FOs do. The coordinates are plotted so that it is known what was ordered where. There is also a verification that takes place in the call for indirect fire to avoid problems with numerical transposition or other mistakes.

  39. 39
    Jill says:

    The troops don’t make the decisions. The FUCKING SMEAR is against POTUS, DoD and commanders who know exactly what they are doing.

  40. 40
    Darrell says:

    As Shygetz rightly points out, not ALL of the left is engaged in this smear. But pretty much every one of those who are throwing it out is on the left

  41. 41
    neil says:

    Well, that’s great. So instead of convincing people that our troops didn’t commit war crimes, you’re trying to convince them that they are evil, vicious traitors for even thinking about it.

    I repeat: This is an extremely stupid tactic to use, considering how everyone remembers how it was flagrantly abused in a very similar context pretty recently.

    Perhaps if you can’t keep your bile down when discussing this subject, it would be better not to discuss it.

  42. 42
    Shygetz says:

    Pb–It has been shown that WP is NOT illegal. It has also been shown that WP was used against the same targets as HE–it was fired indirectly at people dug into Fallujah. Yet people are still pissed about the legal use of WP, when they were silent about the legal use of HE against the same target. You still haven’t answered my question.

  43. 43
    sigh says:

    In any event, another PR nightmare.

  44. 44
    Steve says:

    Shygetz: Maybe you could address the BBC quote above, since I haven’t seen a response.

  45. 45
    neil says:

    By the way, as long as we’re drawing the emotions of our poor troops into all of this, I should mention that I’ve never heard a soldier express emotional torment about what bloggers say about him, but I have heard soldiers express emotional torment about killing innocent people.

    Just thought I’d throw that out there, since it seems germane.

  46. 46
    Shygetz says:

    Well, that’s great. So instead of convincing people that our troops didn’t commit war crimes, you’re trying to convince them that they are evil, vicious traitors for even thinking about it.

    No neil, he is getting impatient with people continuing to say that our troops targeted civillians with chemical weapons, when it has been shown that we did not use chemical weapons and we did not target civillians. Frankly, I am too. I have yet to be shown why our use of WP was worse that our use of HE against the same targets. Weaponized WP has been part of our arsenal for a long time, and it is legal. Our enemy decided to hide in strength behind civillians. What would you have us do in that situation? Just say “Well, what can we do?” Or try our best to get as many civillians out of the way as we can, and then engage and destroy the enemy so they cannot do this again? I agree that Iraq has been handled badly from a strategic standpoint, but when our army is told to take Fallujah, they did it the best way they could.

  47. 47
    Krista says:

    Darrell – I’ll freely admit that I’m not familiar enough with the situation to comment on WP. I just greatly enjoy yanking your chain about some of your tactics. It’s who I am. :)

  48. 48
    Shygetz says:

    Steve–sure. WP was not deliberately aimed at civillians. It was aimed at insurgents, just as the HE was. WP is an incindiary, not a chemical weapon–it’s primary mode of action is to ignite, not to cause chemical damage, just as HE’s primary mode of action is to blow stuff up, not act as a carcinogen. “Critics” can say it’s wrong–“critics” say eating cheese is evil, too.

    It is illegal to deliberately use WP against civillains. It is illegal to deliberately use HE at civillians. It is illegal to deliberately hit civillains with a pointy stick. We didn’t do any of this. We attacked an enemy entrenched in a civillian population after doing what we could to evacuate civillians, and after aiming our weapons at areas of reported resistance.

  49. 49
    Pb says:

    Shygetz,

    Read the quote again, then. It was because of the documentary. People should be pissed about the indiscriminate use of HE against civilians too, if that took place. But that’s not what the subject of the documentary was, so they’re pissed about the alleged indiscriminate use of WP against civilians, which was the subject.

  50. 50
    Steve says:

    Shygetz, the BBC quote didn’t talk about civilians at all. I’m confused by your argument. The point by this chemical weapons expert was that when WP is used as a weapon, it’s legally considered a chemical weapon. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong but no one is engaging the merits of the argument whatsoever.

    By the way, out of hundreds and hundreds of comments I have seen from the fever swamps of the Left, I’ve maybe seen one or two crazies argue that civilians were “intentionally targeted,” so I wish you would stop addressing that strawman as though it’s a serious argument being made.

  51. 51
    Shygetz says:

    Yes, but the WP was not used indiscriminately. As I (and others) said above, it was directed against areas of reported resistance. To say otherwise is to directly attack our troops (unless you believe the administration was telling the artillery exactly where to fire, and not the Forward Observer). The documentary showed civillians killed by WP. I’m not surprised. But there is no evidence that the troops fired artillery indiscriminately; indeed, the evidence seems to state that the troops took care to direct their fire rather than saturating the whole city in a WWII-style bombardment. Do you or anyone else have evidence to the contrary?

  52. 52
    Andrei says:

    Cole said:

    The only way to use it inappropriately would be to use it on civilians, and then it STILL WOULD NOT BE A CHEMICAL WEAPON. It would be a conventional weapon used on civilians, which is bad, but no worse than lining civilians up against a wall and machine-gunning them to death.

    You can’t see the inflammatory language used here?

    Bad but no worse than machine-gunning citizens lined up against a wall?

    Bad?!?

    My dog is bad when he pees on the rug in the bathroom. That’s bad. Hypothetical soldiers machine-gunning hypothetical citizens lined up along a wall execution style is heinous to the nth degree.

    Once again, you are making a point that I and many others think is meaningless if you are serious about it. Unless you are trying to tweak people on this issue for some guilty pleasure at watching others squirm. Because in fact if soldiers had lined up civilians against a wall a machine-gunned them to death, the outrage over such an act would be met with equal fury from so many people regardless of the technical definition of the type of ammo used in the guns.

    WTF? Honestly… did you really write that and mean it? Are you that tone death on this issue? I honestly don’t get your position here.

  53. 53
    Shygetz says:

    The point by this chemical weapons expert was that when WP is used as a weapon, it’s legally considered a chemical weapon.

    Nope, Steve, you need to read what you quoted.

    Professor Paul Rogers, of the University of Bradford’s department of peace studies, told the BBC that white phosphorus could probably be considered a chemical weapon if deliberately aimed at civilians.(emphasis mine)

    Therefore, either you were stating that the troops were deliberately aiming at civillians, or you did not read the quote from Prof. Rogers.

    By the way, out of hundreds and hundreds of comments I have seen from the fever swamps of the Left, I’ve maybe seen one or two crazies argue that civilians were “intentionally targeted,” so I wish you would stop addressing that strawman as though it’s a serious argument being made.

    It was no intentional strawman. I decided to give your reading comprehension the benefit of the doubt. For that, I apologize.

  54. 54
    John Cole says:

    WTF? Honestly… did you really write that and mean it? Are you that tone death on this issue? I honestly don’t get your position here.

    A.) It is tone deaf.

    B.) No, I am not. Deliberately using ‘chemical weapons’ on civilians is no worse than machine-gunning them, and would be just as ‘bad.’

    And that is the point. What is being charged is an ugly and vile smear that we used ‘banned chemical weapons’ (WP is not) and ‘deliberatly and indiscriminatel’ used them on civilians (which we did not).

    Get a grip.

  55. 55
    Shygetz says:

    My dog is bad when he pees on the rug in the bathroom. That’s bad. Hypothetical soldiers machine-gunning hypothetical citizens lined up along a wall execution style is heinous to the nth degree.

    Shame on you, John, for equating machine-gunning of civillains with a dog peeing on the carpet. That is so typical of you right-wing apologists.

    In case you can’t understand John’s point, Andrei, it was that the outrage over WP but not over HE is stupid, as both are legal and lethal. Either you believe that the troops aimed it at civillians, or you believe (contrary to all evidence) that WP is an illegal chemical weapon. Which is it? If it’s something else, tell us what? Why are you outraged?

  56. 56
    Steve says:

    Oh, sorry, the confusion is that you were addressing someone else’s BBC quote rather than mine. I’ll repeat what I quoted above:

    The debate about WP centres partly though not wholly on whether it is really a chemical weapon. Such weapons are outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to which the United States is a party.

    The CWC is monitored by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague. Its spokesman Peter Kaiser was asked if WP was banned by the CWC and he had this to say:

    “No it’s not forbidden by the CWC if it is used within the context of a military application which does not require or does not intend to use the toxic properties of white phosphorus. White phosphorus is normally used to produce smoke, to camouflage movement.

    “If that is the purpose for which the white phosphorus is used, then that is considered under the Convention legitimate use.

    “If on the other hand the toxic properties of white phosphorus, the caustic properties, are specifically intended to be used as a weapon, that of course is prohibited, because the way the Convention is structured or the way it is in fact applied, any chemicals used against humans or animals that cause harm or death through the toxic properties of the chemical are considered chemical weapons.”

  57. 57
    Pb says:

    Shygetz,

    Yes, but the WP was not used indiscriminately.

    Do you have proof of that?

    there is no evidence that the troops fired artillery indiscriminately

    What I’ve seen so far are definitely allegations, possibly evidence, but nothing approaching actual proof. I’m not not sure how much that matters, though, in the larger sense.

  58. 58
    neil says:

    What would you have us do in that situation? Just say “Well, what can we do?” Or try our best to get as many civillians out of the way as we can, and then engage and destroy the enemy so they cannot do this again?

    To me, the most damning stuff I have seen about WP as a weapon (for what it’s worth, I haven’t followed it too closely) is that it’s fired in ‘dumb bombs’ without stabilizer fins, much less advanced targeting systems, and thus to this non-student of military anything, it seems like a stupid choice for shaking an enemy army out of a predominately civilian area. To put it another way, I’ve seen evidence presented that the use of this weapon was clumsy and put civilian lives at risk, but I haven’t seen evidence presented that it was necessary to use such a munition (notwithstanding Darrell’s assertion that it ‘saves the lives of our troops’ — gosh, maybe we should have been using MORE of it!).

    I agree that Iraq has been handled badly from a strategic standpoint, but when our army is told to take Fallujah, they did it the best way they could.

    I don’t see any reason to assume that. Is there one?

  59. 59
    Andrei says:

    Cole:

    You obviously have missed you’re own disconnect in what you have written, probably due to your emotional state on this issue:

    You wrote initially:

    The only way to use it inappropriately would be to use it on civilians, and then it STILL WOULD NOT BE A CHEMICAL WEAPON. It would be a conventional weapon used on civilians, which is bad, but no worse than lining civilians up against a wall and machine-gunning them to death.

    Emphasis mine. Then you just now said:

    Deliberately using ‘chemical weapons’ on civilians is no worse than machine-gunning them, and would be just as ‘bad.’

    Again, emphasis mine. Do you see the disconnect? Your original example equates the use of WP regardless of technical definition to the heinous act of lining up civilians and executing them. You then switched it to implying that IF WP was a chemical THEN if would be equivalent to the heinous act of lining up civilians and executing them.

    That’s how I’m reading it. I think you jumped the gun on the example you were trying to make. Re-read it again as I don’t think it is what you intended to say.

    As for Shygetz:

    Either you believe that the troops aimed it at civillians, or you believe (contrary to all evidence) that WP is an illegal chemical weapon. Which is it? If it’s something else, tell us what? Why are you outraged?

    You didn’t read Cole’s example then: He said “lining civilians up against a wall.”

    That requires intent and purpose. Hello? If soldiers DID do that, they would be charged with crimes. It would be a smear and people WOULD have a right to be furious over it. Lining up civilians along a wall and executing them?!? That’s the equivalent to the use of WP? But let’s make real sure people dn’t smear the troops and claim WP is a chemical weapon?

    You have to be kidding me.

    Cole and Shygetz… if you want to stand behind the WP point you are trying to make (which I do understand and sympathize with for what that’s worth), don’t equate it with an act that is exactly what people are furious over with the use of WP on civilians.

    IOW, people aren’t really furious over the “chemical” in chemical weapon, that’s just an easy way in on their outrage on a particular subject, they are more furious over it’s use on civilians. The question is mostly about intent, and the example Cole gave as an equivalent is pretty damning intent.

  60. 60
    John Cole says:

    Andrei- You are a static display of illogic.

    I will let Shygetz deal with you, as I wash my hands. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t help it if they drown themselves trying to drink through their nose.

  61. 61
    Andrei says:

    Ah well… once again, I try for some honest debate only to get the ad hominen. And in this case, I even think I’m on Cole’s side with the intent of his argument, but not with his discussion of it.

    There’s no understanding you Cole.

  62. 62

    Steve,

    What are the caustic and toxic properties of WP? Are they effectively weaponizable? If so, were the WP munitions used in Fallujah so weaponized?

    In case you wonder, I do know the answers to these questions and I’m not asking for my own effication.

  63. 63
    John Cole says:

    Oh bugger all, I wil try one more time again.

    There are two attempts in this charge to blame the US for wrongdoing. The first is that they used chemical weapons. They did not. WP is not a chemical weapon, despite the fact that you don’t understand it.

    The second is that we used the weapon indiscriminately and/or intentionally on civilians. Despite the fact that we did not, it matters not whether or not we used a chemical weapon on civilians, as using ANY TYPE of weapon, including Shyget’z pointy stick, is a war crime. Thus, using WP on civilians is no worse than lining them up against a wall and machine-gunning them, regardless whether you are too silly to recognize that WP is not a chemical weapon.

    And now I really wash my hands of you.

  64. 64

    Pb;

    Yes, but the WP was not used indiscriminately.

    Do you have proof of that?

    So it’s guilty until proven innocent now?

  65. 65
    John Cole says:

    Ah well… once again, I try for some honest debate only to get the ad hominen. And in this case, I even think I’m on Cole’s side with the intent of his argument, but not with his discussion of it.

    There’s no understanding you Cole.

    If honest debate requires me having to repeatedly walk you through things, point by point, only to walk you through them again and again and again because you simply refuse or are incapable of understanding those points, I will stick to insults. In this case, in my defense, the insults have the benefit of accuracy.

  66. 66
    Steve says:

    I asked for the rebuttal to an argument, if one exists. I didn’t ask to be assigned a research project. If you know the counter-argument, feel free to lay it out, or not, as you choose.

    For the next time you want to affect an air of Internet superiority, by the way, the word you are looking for is “edification.”

  67. 67
    PotVsKtl says:

    Some people miscategorized WP. Some people retracted those statements. Get over it and move on if you refuse to address the real concerns on whether it was used inappropriately. Typical distraction tactics.

  68. 68
    BARRASSO says:

    Am I missing something in the arguement, it seems that the WP was used against the insurgents in a standard way, to melt them out of a hidey hole, which is legal but painful, then the WP’s fumes carmelized a few nearby civies. To me that is just good old accidental collateral damage, if I were in the situation of either using WP or charging into a place to risk my own life and limb, I would choose to risk the Kentucky Fried Toddler over my own troops. All this and I AM a liberal that hates our troops.

  69. 69
    Andrei says:

    I’m going to try one more time, because I’m a glutton for punishment when I don’t understand something. FWIW, I assume you’re entire position rests on:

    “The only way to use it inappropriately would be to use it on civilians…”

    Maybe that’s what I’m missing, because my understanding of events is that it was used on civilians, but not intentionally. Such is the nature of urban warfare. IOW, I’m not sure the issue is of inappropriateness or should be of appropriateness given the context of the fighting, as even you say using it on civilians in inappropriate. I think everyone can agree to that.

    The issue is of intent, and I would say that in an urban warfare zone, parsing issues of intent and what sooldiers have to do to fight is an extremely slippery slope. Urban warfare by its nature is pure hell on top of the gruesomness of war itself, and there’s not a whole you can do about it.

    But that kind of intent, using WP in an urban war zone which I would agree is fair game, seems entirely different than than execution style intent of lining civilians up for the slaughter you gave in your example. I still think your example is counter-productive to what I think your position is on the issue behind the “WP is not a chemical weapon” rant.

  70. 70
    Andrei says:

    And now I really wash my hands of you.

    Finally.. I got you to state your position in simpler, more precise terms than the the round about way you try to make a point sometimes. Call me all the names you want… I think poking you with a stick that time worked.

    And FWIW, I agree with you on this issue. 100%

  71. 71
    Shygetz says:

    Steve–As I said previously, weaponized WP (like napalm) is used as an incindiary, which is not banned by the CWC. Although WP can have acute toxic effects (as can almost every chemical used in weapons, including explosives and propellants), its primary mode of action is to semi-autoignite, not cause chemical damage. As such, it is not a chemical weapon, it is an incindiary, and therefore not illegal.

    neil–From what I read, WP was fired from artillery, just as other conventional munitions were. The indirect fire was controlled by a forward observer, as normal for artillery fire. Most munitions used in war are not “smart bombs”; doesn’t make their use indiscriminate.

    I agree that Iraq has been handled badly from a strategic standpoint, but when our army is told to take Fallujah, they did it the best way they could.

    I don’t see any reason to assume that. Is there one?

    Yes. The experts on the scene decided to use that tactic. They had more complete knowledge and training than you or their other critics. As such, they should be assumed to have acted correctly until there is evidence that they did not. You have presented no evidence that there was a better way for them to complete their mission.

    Andrei–Are you totally new to rhetorical logic?

    Your original example equates the use of WP regardless of technical definition to the heinous act of lining up civilians and executing them.

    No, he equated the intentional use of WP against civillians with the intentional use of other conventional munitions (in this case, small arms fire) against civillians.

    That requires intent and purpose. Hello? If soldiers DID do that, they would be charged with crimes. It would be a smear and people WOULD have a right to be furious over it. Lining up civilians along a wall and executing them?!? That’s the equivalent to the use of WP? But let’s make real sure people dn’t smear the troops and claim WP is a chemical weapon?

    You have to be kidding me.

    No, that’s the equivalent to the deliberate targeting of civillians with WP. So, as I stated earlier, you are either saying WP is an illegal weapon to use (contrary to the evidence) and therefore its use was wrong, or you are saying that civillians were deliberately targeted by WP, although there is no evidence that civillians were deliberately targeted at all, and certainly no evidence that WP was targeted any differently than other conventional munitions.

    Ah well… once again, I try for some honest debate only to get the ad hominen.

    Please, people, learn the definition of ad hominem. If I say that your argument is wrong because you’re a jackass, then that’s ad hominem. If I say you’re a jackass, then I’m just saying you’re a jackass.

    pb–

    Yes, but the WP was not used indiscriminately.

    Do you have proof of that?

    there is no evidence that the troops fired artillery indiscriminately

    What I’ve seen so far are definitely allegations, possibly evidence, but nothing approaching actual proof. I’m not not sure how much that matters, though, in the larger sense.

    Now we get to the heart of the argument. This is what I and others are talking about when we say you are smearing our troops. You believe that the troops are firing artillery indiscriminately at the city, and you require proof otherwise (proof other than the word and reports of the soldiers there, as they discussed how their forward observers directed artillery fire). That is smearing our troops. Not Bush or Rumsfeld, but the troops who directed and fired the weapons on the ground. Again, the ones who are asserting wrongdoing are required to present evidence. The story of the troops is that they directed fire to eliminate insurgents. The only “evidence” otherwise is some civillian bodies. The death of civillians does not prove that the army targeted civillians; it indicates that the insurgents were hiding among civillians.

  72. 72
    Steve says:

    I guess John was right, and no one has anything new to say. Next case.

  73. 73
    p.lukasiak says:

    Its apparent that John sees a huge distinction being “burning the skin off of a child” (WP used as an incendiary weapon) and “burning the skin off a child (WP used for its caustic properties).

    I guess the rule is that its okay to burn the skin off of a child if you think “fire”, but its forbidden if you think “battery acid”

    would that be about right, John?

  74. 74
    John S. says:

    Please, people, learn the definition of ad hominem. If I say that your argument is wrong because you’re a jackass, then that’s ad hominem. If I say you’re a jackass, then I’m just saying you’re a jackass.

    An excellent point.

    Of course, it is wise to avoid insulting a person you are conversing with – not because it’s illogical or unfair, but because they are a person. In addition to making the conversation unpleasant, it also tends to excite the parts of the mind that interfere with reason.

    Also, people here confuse debate and discussion. Debate uses logic to study how the faculty of reason moves toward or away from the truth. Discussion is just talk balloon juice.

  75. 75
    Blue Neponset says:

    Its apparent that John sees a huge distinction being “burning the skin off of a child” (WP used as an incendiary weapon) and “burning the skin off a child (WP used for its caustic properties).

    Geez, what is wrong with you? That comment is way out of line.

    John is actually a real person. Please think about that the next time you want to post something like this.

  76. 76
    BumperStickerist says:

    Speaking as a former vet – and thus able to say ‘eff you’ with impunity to all non-veterans who smear our troops – here is an article which mentions Willy Pete from a Trade Rag – Field Artillery Magazine. It’s dated 2001 – so this article was written *before* the incidents mentioned.

    Field Artillery Magazine – May/June 2001

    The Law of War
    and Fire Support:

    ….

    Incendiaries, which include napalm,
    flame throwers, tracer rounds and white
    phosphorus, are not illegal, per se, but
    must be monitored for their use to prevent
    “unnecessary suffering.”13 For instance,
    white phosphorus is not banned
    as a method for marking targets or for
    igniting flammable targets, but it should
    not be used as an anti-personnel munition
    unless other types of conventional antipersonnel
    ordnance are unavailable.

    footnote 13. FM 27-10, supra Note 2, Paragraph 36.

    As a right-wing former vet Bush Supporter, I’d comment that ‘shake and bake’ sounds like the ‘unnecessary suffering’ caused by WP is minimized by the quick subsequent application of High Explosives.

    Also, the fact that WP is being applied for a specific purpose against a very specfic target for extrememly specific reasons, you could make a case that ‘conventional antipersonnel ordnance’ is ineffective, thus requiring the use of WP by the Fire Support.

    Unless the Left would prefer the Army back up a couple of hundred yards and have the Air Force start dropping Daisy Cutters on clusters of holed up bad guys.

    However, since the tactic of using WP in conjunction with HP is called ‘Shake and Bake’ by the military, it’s safe to say that this is a known approved use of WP with HE for a given mission.

    .

    .

  77. 77

    I asked for the rebuttal to an argument, if one exists. I didn’t ask to be assigned a research project. If you know the counter-argument, feel free to lay it out, or not, as you choose.

    So you have no problem throwing about extremely serious charges with no care for thier accuracy. Good to know.

    What are the caustic and toxic properties of WP?

    White Phosphosus is poison to most organic organisms. It is a common component in some brands of rat poison. However, it would require ingestion, or to leave WP in a wound indefinitely to achieve a helath effect from WP. It is not, in it’s employed form, caustic, however on contact with water it does create Phosphoric acid, this is actually the smoke that is generated when used for obscurant purposes. The acid is an irritant to skin and eyes. Those with respiratiry problems could find the effect fatal, or those who remain in a concentration of the smoke and do not leave.

    Are they effectively weaponizable?

    Clearly not.

  78. 78

    WP’s fumes carmelized a few nearby civies

    Not possible.

  79. 79

    Maybe that’s what I’m missing, because my understanding of events is that it was used on civilians, but not intentionally.

    Intent is a requirement.

  80. 80
    stickler says:

    This discussion is so far beyond pointless as to render the term “pointless” utterly without meaning.

    When we’re justifying how Fallujah 2: the Reckoning went, we’re well past the point of winning the counter-insurgency war. We’re debating the finer points on how this war was lost.

    “It was necessary to destroy Fallujah in order to save it.” Is that about right? How many hearts and minds do you all suppose we won in Fallujah? Is the city stable and safe even now?

  81. 81

    Its apparent that John sees a huge distinction being “burning the skin off of a child” (WP used as an incendiary weapon) and “burning the skin off a child (WP used for its caustic properties).

    I guess the rule is that its okay to burn the skin off of a child if you think “fire”, but its forbidden if you think “battery acid”

    Not at all. If I intend to burn a combatant (soldier, insurgent, terrorist…) and I burn a noncombatant (civilain not actively seeking to oppose me militarily, which generally includes children), and I used all necessary and proper care in doing so I am justified.

    If I use a weapon to kill a combatant that has as its primary meand of fatality being toxic or corrosive effects of the weapon, that is not justified, because we have signed a treaty saying we would not use such weapons.

    Do you see the distinction? It is legalistic. What isn’t?

  82. 82
    Steve says:

    So you have no problem throwing about extremely serious charges with no care for thier accuracy. Good to know.

    What an ass. I quoted a chemical weapons expert and asked if anyone could provide a rebuttal to his claims. This counts as “throwing about extremely serious charges with no care for their accuracy”? Give me a fucking break.

  83. 83
    Retief says:

    SOTU
    What Bush said justified the war:

    25,000 liters of anthrax—enough doses to kill several million people.

    38,000 liters of botulinum toxin—enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure.

    500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands.

    30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents.

    Several mobile biological weapons labs.

    Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.

    With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region.

    Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

    Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans—this time armed by Saddam Hussein.

    At least nobody’s trying to claim it was all for the democracy.

  84. 84
    aop says:

    I have been opposed to this war since 2002, but I think this WP thing is total bullshit. The facts are that:

    a)WP is not classified as a chemical weapon. Yes, I know, it’s a chemical and it was used as a weapon. For that matter, HE are made of chemicals, too. As an above commenter said, “it’s legalistic, but what isn’t?”

    b)I’ve seen no compelling evidence that it was intentionally used on civilians. I have no doubt that in trying to use it on insurgents, some civilians may have been hurt or killed. This is horrible, but not illegal. It doesn’t turn my stomach any more than the thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been killed by HE, stray bullets, etc.

    It strikes me that this is the kind of anti-war/Bush point-scoring at all costs that liberals should reject. We already have a strong enough case against this administration on the grounds of dishonesty and incompetence than to have to go after the army on a borderline ethical case in which no actual laws have been broken.

  85. 85
    Al Maviva says:

    This may be the stupidest discussion I’ve ever seen your commenters or the MSM involved in John. Oh my God is this mind bogglingly stupid. The insistence that there is something untoward about WP use on the battlefield and the magical effects attributed to it by experts who once used a laundry detergent that contained phosphorous, is so stupid, that I think a black hole is opening up in the middle of comments and jamming up the entire mechanism of space time. The cosmic threads are becoming unbound, the universe is falling apart, it was simply never designed to contain so much stupidity – a Density of Morons, I think it’s called – in one place. There is no fact you could cite, no argument, that would be accepted by those insisting Chimpski McBushHitler was doing a jig whilst ordering the sublime barbecue of thousands using some highly prohibited totally secretive WMD. The stupidity here is immutable, denser than a bad Christmas fruitcake, and not half as useful. Arguing with them about this is not throwing your pearls before swine, it’s worse, it’s throwing them before paramecium basically incapable of reacting except in a blind, instinctual sort of manner. Oh, the humanity.

  86. 86
    p.lukasiak says:

    John is actually a real person. Please think about that the next time you want to post something like this.

    of course he’s a real person. In this case, he’s a real person acting as an apologist for an atrocity — the use of WP as an anti-personnel weapon.

    And when you point out that this is an atrocity, John goes all “How dare you accuse our troops of war crimes?” (that is, when he’s not trying to deny that it happened at all) rather than acknowledge that a war crime has occurred, and insist that those responsible be held accountable.

  87. 87
    Pb says:

    Shygetz,

    I said nothing about my beliefs, and I would thank you to not speculate on them or mischaracterize them. Don’t smear me by lying that I’m “smearing the troops”. Asshole.

  88. 88
    Pb says:

    RTO Trainer,

    Welcome to the court of public opinion; I’m not saying that anyone is guilty or innocent actually, and I’m not sure that we’ll ever get a satisfactory answer here. That’s how war often is.

    To give you just one specific example, I still don’t know whether Iran or Iraq gassed Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988. I know what the CIA was saying at the time, and I know what Bush said during the run-up to war, and they didn’t match. Anyone who does claim to know is probably selling something–that’s “the fog of war”.

    What is indisputably bad, however, is that civilians died–both then and now. This also can happen in war, sometimes quite unintentionally, but it doesn’t make it somehow right or better. Obvious moral concerns aside, I doubt that more dead Iraqi civilians will win us more hearts and minds in Iraq.

  89. 89
    Steve S says:

    Steve- When people start to acknowledge WP is not a chemical weapon and retract their baseless charges that we used chemical weapons on civilians, I will consider examining their ‘points.’

    Lack of Compromise… Why we end up having these arguments.

  90. 90
    jg says:

    WP is not a chemical weapon, despite the fact that you don’t understand it.

    “If on the other hand the toxic properties of white phosphorus, the caustic properties, are specifically intended to be used as a weapon, that of course is prohibited, because the way the Convention is structured or the way it is in fact applied, any chemicals used against humans or animals that cause harm or death through the toxic properties of the chemical are considered chemical weapons.”

    Am I missing something in the arguement, it seems that the WP was used against the insurgents in a standard way, to melt them out of a hidey hole, which is legal but painful,

    Is melting them out of a hidey-hole(not saying it happened, hypothetical here) using the toxic properties of WP? Doesn’t that make it a chemical weapon accordign to the CWC?

    My question goes to John’s point that its not a chemical weapon. It seems it can be according to use. If you use the ‘smoke’ property for cover its not a chemical weapon but if you use the ‘smoke’ property to choke to death enemy trapped in a unventilated area it is a chemical weapon. True? Help me out here.

  91. 91

    What an ass. I quoted a chemical weapons expert and asked if anyone could provide a rebuttal to his claims. This counts as “throwing about extremely serious charges with no care for their accuracy”? Give me a fucking break.

    I thought I’d pretty clearly verified what the expert said and then went on to demonstrate in what ways WP didn’t meet the requirements of the convention controlling the issue.

    Did I fail to make that clear? What have I missed?

  92. 92

    At least nobody’s trying to claim it was all for the democracy.

    And yet you have your own narrow view you wish to take.

    Assuming you would reject teh 14 reasosn stipulated in teh Congressinal Joint Resolution authorizing the use of force as unilateral, here are teh 11 reasons outlined by the UN Security Council:

    The Signaleer’s Digest Condensed Version of the preamble of UNSCR 1441 (http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/U.....penElement):

    1. Because we’ve asked, begged cajoled, pleaded and demanded, over and over again, that the Hussein regime comply with its commitments.

    2. Because the Hussein regime still has not acted to provide for its civilian population.

    3. Because of its failure to comply with its commitments, the Hussein regime remains a threat to international peace and security.

    4. Because the Gulf War remains unconcluded.

    5. Because the Hussein regime must meet it’s obligations in order to restore Iraqi sovereignty.

    6. Because the Hussein regime has not provided an accurate, full, final, and complete disclosure of all aspects of its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles with a range greater than one hundred and fifty kilometres, and of all holdings of such weapons, their components and production facilities and locations, as well as all other nuclear programs, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to nuclear-weapons-usable material.

    7. Because the Hussein regime continues to prevent verification of what disclosures it has made.

    8. Because 5 years have passed with little substantive action from us aside from asking, begging, pleading, cajoling and demanding, over and over, and we think we’ve set on our hands long enough.

    9. Because the Hussein regime supports terrorism, represses its population, and has not yet returned all Kuwaiti persons and property as is and has been required.

    10. Because the ceasefire in effect was conditional on the Hussein regime meeting all its obligations.

    11. Because it’s too late for the Hussein regime to negotiate new terms.

  93. 93

    of course he’s a real person. In this case, he’s a real person acting as an apologist for an atrocity—the use of WP as an anti-personnel weapon.

    What definition of “attrocity” are you using? Is this from intenational law? Title 10 USC? What?

    Are you saying that it is attrocious in your own mind, offending your own sensibilities? That’d at least be an honest opinion, but it holds little weight for a public policy debate.

    If, on the other hand, you do intend to imply (or state) that it constitutes a war crime, you are certainly and unequivocally wrong.

  94. 94
    Sinbad says:

    Actually, p.lukasiak, when you try to point out that this is an atrocity, the response is:

    “No, it wasn’t an atrocity or a war crime, you fucking moron, and if you stopped peering at the world out through Ramsey Clarke’s distended asshole for about fifteen seconds you might actually grasp that. Furthermore, if you had a scintilla of goddamn human decency, you’d also recognize that falsely accusing our troops of committing atrocities and war crimes is fucking despicable.”

  95. 95

    Pb,

    Have you a solution? I don’t see a way to maintain defense and be 100% certian of never killing someonw who was not expressly meant to be killed.

    The Brits joke that USAF (US Air Force) stands for Usually Shooting At Friends. Pat Tillma dided in a “blue on blue” incident. Clearly we aren’t talking just about civilians being killed.

    If we must end all unintended deaths in war, must that not extend to all unintended deaths, period? What implications does that have?

    As usual, the fact that nothing is perfect, the corneres are never quite square enough, teh creases never quite sharp enough an dress-right-dress in formation gets fouled up because not everyone is built the same way, can never be an excuse for not trying.

    All I can do is assure you that we do everything we can to avoid it, prevent it and mitigate it. There those who do as much as we do to this end, but no one does more.

    If my assurance is not enough, I apologize, but there is nothing else I can do save ensure that “the man in the mirror” meets and exceeds the standards and never accepts an illegal order.

  96. 96

    Is melting them out of a hidey-hole(not saying it happened, hypothetical here) using the toxic properties of WP? Doesn’t that make it a chemical weapon accordign to the CWC?

    No. Toxicity is a measure of how poisionous a substance is. Plutonium is one of the most toxic substances there is. Inhaling micrograms will kill a person. Phosphorus is toxic. If you get some in your body and do not remove it it will make you sick but large quantities are required to kill you.

    The property that WP relies on as a weapon is that it is incendiary. It ignites on contact with oxygen. This property has nothing to do with toxicity.

  97. 97

    Ah, the stupidity continues.

    It has already been established that WP is not a chemical weapon. It is not classified as such, and as an incendiary used for marking and screening, it is specifically exempted from regulation as a chemical weapon.

    The fact is that the vast majority of commenters critical of the use of WP have no standing whatsoever to second guess the actions of the commanders on the ground or their FOs who are actually selecting the ordnance.

    WP is a standard round, used for marking, screening, and setting fire to flammable targets. It is precisely what it is designed to do.

    With any Fire for Effect mission, particularly at night, the marking rounds and possibly the first salvo on the target would be WP rounds, because they are easier to observe than HE rounds. Using WP, which has a much smaller lethal radius, allows you to adjust rounds onto the target without using HE. Using WP, then, actually reduces collateral damage, and reduces the likelihood of injury to noncombatants, in this way.

    Theoretically, you could use smoke rounds, too…but a short smoke round would obscure the observer’s view of the target, and would not be observable at night anyway. So you’re back to WP.

    The vast majority of the carpers here, however, are too mired in their own outraged ignorance to grasp the doctrine and how WP is used on the battlefield.

    WP rounds are also useful in marking a battlefield for fixed-wing close air support aviators. They may not understand “don’t fire south of Haifa Street.” But they can understand “See these two WP bursts? Fire up north of the line between them. There are friendlies to the south.”

    You would also use WP to set fire to a building in order to force insurgents to flee…thus exposing themselves to the effects of HE. (It has the added effect This is the purpose of the “shake and bake” mission, which uses a combination of WP and HE ordnance.)

    This is what the ordnance is designed for. This is why we carry it into battle.

    Shake and bake has been an authorized technique in the artillery world for decades. The fact that the daisyshuckers and handwringers on the left don’t realize that simply underscores that they bring no understanding to the topic. They are simply not qualified or prepared to have an informed debate.

    Nor are they able to coherently discuss the ethics of using WP ordnance, because they are still making the false and wholly ignorant claim that WP “fumes” “caramelize skin.”

    (If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. But I can’t, because it’s against ethical practices for a real estate agent to exploit the mentally handicapped.)

    Anyone who is still hung up on the caramelization lie, or is claiming that WP burns flesh but leaves clothing intact, is simply too stupid to bother with, and frankly does not know enough about the effects of ordnance to create a foundation for informed discussion.

    Finally, there’s a further subset of drooling idiots who are trying to claim that they have no beef with the soldiers – only the commanders who authorized the use of WP.

    But the fact is that it is 23-28 year old observers – 2nd lieutenants and sergeants, who are selecting and calling for the ordnance. Those are the people on the ground, who are taking the most direct risks. The round of choice for any given fire mission is not determined by Donald Rumsfeld.

    Our artillery spotters are among the best and most highly educated in the world. Sorry, the commenters on balloon-juice simply don’t have the professional standing or fund of information to second-guess the professional judgement of our soldiers on the ground.

    And the fact that you chuckleheads don’t realize who it is that selects these rounds – thinking, I suppose, that fire missions are planned and coordinated by Dough Feith at the Pentagon – simply further underscores the depths of your own incompetence to even discuss the matter with professionals.

    Again, you are ignorant of the tactical situation on the ground. You are ignorant of doctrine. You are ignorant of fire control procedures. You are ignorant about the ordnance. You are ignorant about every single thing it would take to illuminate a rational discussion of the use of WP or other weapons in Fallujah.

    Jason Van Steenwyk

  98. 98
    Pb says:

    RTO Trainer,

    I wish I had a solution that did maintain a defense and be 100% certain of not killing any innocents, etc.; I don’t think that’s even remotely possible. However, I know that we need some real oversight here, with some teeth. We need to have confidence in the system, that it works.

    Finding out a year or more later that there might have been torture, indiscriminate bombings, civilians that weren’t allowed to leave cities or enter hospitals–these things do not inspire confidence.

    The army does have legal channels in place to investigate itself; sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it gets buried anyhow.

    My suggestions?

    The executive branch needs to have something like the GAO–an accountabilty office to oversee these things, and make sure we all get the facts. Hah.

    Or, the legislative branch needs to have the balls to accept their Constitutional duty to really investigate these issues. Heh. Yeah, right.

    Or, we need another ‘Deep Throat’. Another . Another Siebel Edmonds. Another Ian Fishback. Maybe many of them.

  99. 99
    jg says:

    Is melting them out of a hidey-hole(not saying it happened, hypothetical here) using the toxic properties of WP? Doesn’t that make it a chemical weapon accordign to the CWC?

    No. Toxicity is a measure of how poisionous a substance is. Plutonium is one of the most toxic substances there is. Inhaling micrograms will kill a person. Phosphorus is toxic. If you get some in your body and do not remove it it will make you sick but large quantities are required to kill you.

    The property that WP relies on as a weapon is that it is incendiary. It ignites on contact with oxygen. This property has nothing to do with toxicity.

    The lesson on toxicity was unnescessary as was the info on plutonium.

    Phosphorus is toxic. If you get some in your body and do not remove it it will make you sick but large quantities are required to kill you.

    This is my point. Used as illumination, tracer or smokescreen is conventional use of WP. But if you use the smoke not as cover but as a means of killing the enemy, choking them with toxic smoke, isn’t that a chem wem according to the CWC guy quoted way above?

    I’m not saying US soldiers use it this way. This is hypothetical. I’m asking is it a chem wem if used that way?

  100. 100
    S.A. says:

    What about this?

    “Peter Kaiser, a spokesman for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which enforces the convention, said the convention permitted the use of such weapons for “military purposes not connected with the use of chemical weapons and not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare”. He said the burns caused by WP were thermic rather than chemical and as such not prohibited by the treaty.”

    http://news.independent.co.uk/.....327094.ece

  101. 101
    Vlad says:

    “What war crimes did the soldiers or their superiors commit in Falluja?”

    I don’t know what ones they did or didn’t commit, but here are the primary things that I’m concerned about:

    Refusing to allow noncombatants to leave a city before bombardment is pretty atrocious, in my view, even if they were conspicuously male. Using incendiary devices in close proximity to a noncombatant civilian population isn’t cool, either, given the potential for fiasco and widespread collateral damage.

    Both of these seem to be more strategic failures rather than errors by the “boots on the ground”, who wouldn’t necessarily have a good picture of the full situation. As such, I’d tend to blame the decision makers in the COC a lot more than the checkpoint guards or the gunners, who were probably just following what seemed to be reasonable orders.

  102. 102

    This is my point. Used as illumination, tracer or smokescreen is conventional use of WP. But if you use the smoke not as cover but as a means of killing the enemy, choking them with toxic smoke, isn’t that a chem wem according to the CWC guy quoted way above?

    I’m not saying US soldiers use it this way. This is hypothetical. I’m asking is it a chem wem if used that way?

    The smoke could be lethal to a small child or an adult with a respiratory condition who was in a room they were unable to leave with an extremely high concentration of the smoke for an extended period of time.

    Its a heavy smoke and wouldn’t stay airborne long so something would also have to kick it back up periodically in order to keep teh victim breathing it.

    If you wish to kill people with WP, as a practical matter it is necessary to catch them inside a round’s blast radius so they get peppered with many many of the flying burning bits.

    See, even when it is used in an anti-personnel role, it is hte WP’s job primarilly to get the target to abandon cover either by denying the cover (setting it on fire) or panicing the target, and then hitting the open area with HE. Even this way it’s not typically the WP that actually does the killing, it’s the HE.

  103. 103

    Refusing to allow noncombatants to leave a city before bombardment is pretty atrocious, in my view, even if they were conspicuously male.

    I am concerned about this. I’ve heard the stories, but I don’t have any significant coroberation that it’s true. It’s not doctrine and as such I tend to disbelieve it.

    You may think it semantic, but we don’t do bombardment any more. A bombardment is by its nature indiscriminate.

    Using incendiary devices in close proximity to a noncombatant civilian population isn’t cool, either, given the potential for fiasco and widespread collateral damage.

    Which is why we use Forward Observers to guide such weapons to their specific targets for specific purposes.

    Both of these seem to be more strategic failures rather than errors by the “boots on the ground”, who wouldn’t necessarily have a good picture of the full situation. As such, I’d tend to blame the decision makers in the COC a lot more than the checkpoint guards or the gunners, who were probably just following what seemed to be reasonable orders.

    See Jason Van Steenwyk’s comment. It’s not the COC (We actually call it a TOC or a JOC) that selects the munitions or calls the missions. It’s the FOs and the troops requesting fire support.

  104. 104
    jg says:

    The smoke could be lethal to a small child or an adult with a respiratory condition who was in a room they were unable to leave with an extremely high concentration of the smoke for an extended period of time.

    Its a heavy smoke and wouldn’t stay airborne long so something would also have to kick it back up periodically in order to keep teh victim breathing it.

    Got it, thanks.

  105. 105
    Vlad says:

    “It’s not the COC (We actually call it a TOC or a JOC) that selects the munitions or calls the missions. It’s the FOs and the troops requesting fire support.”

    Thanks for the clarification.

    In general, how good is the FO’s tactical knowledge of the situation on the ground? Would they have been reasonably expected to know about the presence of any noncombatant civilians in the area, or would they depend on the troops requesting fire support to provide that information?

  106. 106
    Jason says:

    In general, how good is the FO’s tactical knowledge of the situation on the ground? Would they have been reasonably expected to know about the presence of any noncombatant civilians in the area, or would they depend on the troops requesting fire support to provide that information?

    Christ on a crotch-rocket…just who do you think the FO is?

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