Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More About White Phosphorus

Here are two
places where I mentioned white phosphorus, which has been used by the U.S. military in Iraq.

Here is a short post by the "Ape Man" discussing the issue.

What it comes down to is that as an incendiary, the use of white phosphorus as a weapon (as opposed to as an illumination device, which is allowed) in areas with large concentrations of civilians is banned by Protocol III of the Geneva Conventions. However, the portion where it is banned has not been ratified by the U.S. Which means that the use of white phosphorus in Fallujah, to which the military has now admitted, is not technically illegal. On the other hand, that we have not ratified the treaty that bans it could be seen in and of itself as a bit of a scandal. (By the way, does anyone know how many countries have ratified it? If we are the last hold-out in the developed world, that would make this much more scandalous, although it would be immoral to the same degree regardless).

I am hesitant to condemn the use of white phosphorus as a weapon per se, because militarily there might be some circumstances in which it is necessary - when fighting a truly necessary war, one where winning, at all costs, was absolutely necessary. AS for the fact that other countries have banned it, I think that many of the other developed countries are a little too squeamish about death, and not willing enough to use violence when necessary. On the other hand, in an unnecessary war like the one in Iraq, the fact that we are using such weapons is inexcusable, because we are not in a position where "win at all costs" is morally justifiable.

So in other words, this episode does not speak well as to the standards which we are using to fight this war.

That is all.

No comments: