Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Willie Peter

For reasons that only the anti-war crowd will understand, someone started the rumor today that we used white phosphorus against the combatants of Fallujah. They also stated that WP was illegal. I saw an article quoted to that effect. Google it yourself.

White Phosphorus munitions are not proscribed under the various conventions dealing with land warfare. We aren't supposed to use WP against personnel, but against property targets. For example, we can shoot WP at equipment or supply dumps. The people in the supply dumps are just screwed. Can't help it. As for the veracity of the claim that we used WP munitions, I don't doubt it. WP munitions are common and are used as a military expedient against property targets, but the pictures I have seen don't tell the tale.

The articles claim that one of the tell-tale signs of WP is that the deceased are burned, but their clothing is not. Bullshit. WP catches fire and burns with a flame. Clothing catches fire. This quote from a NATO emergency medical manual.

"Many antipersonnel weapons employed in modern warfare contain white phosphorus. Fragments of this metal, which ignite upon contact with the air, may be driven into the soft tissues; however, most of the cutaneous injury resulting from phosphorus burns is due to the ignition of clothing, and is treated as conventional thermal injury."

The article also claims that the skin takes on a leathery appearance. The skin of the deceased will also take on a leathery appearance if not recovered immediately and allowed to lie out in a low humidity environment like a desert.

The referenced article is preposterous from every angle. It is the biggest piece of bullshit I have ever seen. If my anti-war friends want to debate the political ramifications of the Iraqi experience, then they should do so. This country welcomes contemporaneous, spirited, political debate.

But don't believe everything you read. This is now officially debunked.


j said...

Wasn't it Warsaw in WWII where we used phosphorous bombs? It got on people and they filled the river. It wouldn't burn under water. Some, however, got it on their heads and faces. . . . The description I read about it was probably the most horrible thing I've ever read.

Pawpaw said...

I don't know if it was Warsaw, but I remember the reports. The use of napalm is horrific too, but that doesn't mean that we don't use it. It is still a valuable military tool.

No one likes warfare. It is a dirty, horrible, nasty business.

Yet, it is necessary to know how to fight wars, and to use the tools available in the most effective way. No one decries war like a soldier. No one.

Anonymous said...

Warsaw was and still is the capital of Poland. During the WW II it was occupied by Nazis but it has never been bombed by allied air forces, while there were some supply airdrops conducted by during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

WP was however used by the RAF in Dresden, Germany