KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, November 11, 2005

Burning the Skin Off Iraqis in Fallujah

Near the beginning of the illegal war against Iraq, reports that U.S. soldiers had used napalm on Iraqis surfaced and then quickly disappeared. I e-mailed links to those stories to friends, some of whom, though they think the war is wrong, refused to believe that American soldiers would do such a thing and that Bush and the Pentagon would ever order such an action.

But we were using a substance that has effects similar to that of napalm, though, called white phosphorus (see this also [in Italian]). It burns the skin on contact, sometimes to the bone. If you can stomach it, view the video (about 30 minutes long and in English) of Italian RAI News 24's investigative story, "Fallujah, the Concealed Massacre."

The U.S. military has, of course, denied that it uses white phosphorus as weapon. The military instead uses it "to conceal troop movements with smoke, mark targets or light up combat areas," reported MSNBC. "The use of incendiary weapons against civilians has been banned by the Geneva Convention since 1980. The United States did not sign the relevant protocol to the convention, a U.N. official in New York said." And Newsweek's international November 22 issue, already online, also reports that white phosphorus is used for illumination.

The military can give such bogus reasons all it wants. Once you get past the question of why in hell we're in Iraq, there's the question of why in hell we're burning the skin off human beings. I guess it goes hand in hand with torture.



RTO Trainer said...

You may beleive that the war is wrong, however it is not illegal.

White Phosphorous does not behave in any fashion like napalm.

If you get WP on you it will burn, possibly to the bone, possibly all the way through. WP burns on contact with oxygen and will not stop unless it is consumed, or it is deprived of oxygen.

The US militery has not denied that it uses White Phosphous as a weapon. We certainly do. The link to MSNBC does not support your statements.

WP is not a chemical weapon. It is not banned by any treaty.

The deliberate use of any weapon against civilians has been prohibited since long before 1980. We are not a signatory to the 1980 UN protocol (which is not a Geneva Convention) though we observe it's provisions in practice anyway.

WP can be used for marking and screening. It is not used for illumination.

Anonymous said...

Hello Katharine,

You might want to do a posting about this flash movie or perhaps send the link to friends:


News of me is that I won my boxing match so I'm very pleased about that. While I was in Berlin I also took up an invitation to try chess boxing (boxing bout and then you play chess against each other) really interesting and I think we can get a club started.

My little brother is well. We have no news of dad which I am taking on the idea of no news is good news but it is still worrying.

You take care.

Anonymous said...

i had forgotten that silly blogger doe not like raw URIs


What do you worship, the symbol, or the principles?

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Dubhaltach, it's good to hear that you and your brother are well. I'm hoping, too, that Mark from Ireland, your dad, is still safe and able to do peacekeeping.

Katherine Zander said...

From my husband, a former ANG artillery officer and combat engineer: WP is definately used for burning things - facilities, people, whatever. It's nasty stuff. There are "Willy Pete" hand grenades, and he has "ordered" WP shells on target facilities to burn them down after shelling them with more normal artillery shells (in training only, of course). Anyone who says it's used for illumunation or concealment is lying.

Honestly, I don't think the military is refusing to admit they use WP as an incindiary devise, I think the news is either getting spin on it from elsewhere, or chooses not to say what it's used for.

Regardless of who's spreading these lies, it's a horrible thing to use against anyone, civilian or otherwise. I'm appalled that torture and mayhem are being done in the name of "Freedom." Bite me.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

KZ, I'm so glad you wrote, especially to tell about your husband's experience.

Yeah, the war in Iraq is as much about freedom as Belgian waffles are about low-calorie eating.

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