Thursday, November 10

Melting the Skin Off Children

In response to a recent Italian Documentary about the assault on Falluah last year which featured some rather graphic images, the issue of both White Phosporous Munitions and Napalm (500 lbs MK77 Firebombs) has suddenly become a very - hot - topic. To borrow a line from a band I used to like until this year- "It aint pretty".

From The Independant.
In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete.

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for."
Rather than being just another Liberal attack on the Military, the use of White Phosphorous has been confirmed by the Military itself.

From an article on the attack on Fallujah featured in the March Edition of Field Artillery Magazine.
"WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] 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."

Needess to say, this has cause a bit of a stir --- here's a sample from Hunter on dailykos

First, I think it should be a stated goal of United States policy to not melt the skin off of children.

As a natural corollary to this goal, I think the United States should avoid dropping munitions on civilian neighborhoods which, as a side effect, melt the skin off of children. You can call them "chemical weapons" if you must, or far more preferably by the more proper name of "incendiaries". The munitions may or may not precisely melt the skin off of children by setting them on fire; they do melt the skin off of children, however, through robust oxidation of said skin on said children, which is indeed colloquially known as "burning". But let's try to avoid, for now, the debate over the scientific phenomenon of exactly how the skin is melted, burned, or caramelized off of the aforementioned children. I feel quite confident that others have put more thought into the matter of how to melt the skin off of children than I have, and will trust their judgment on the matter.

Now, I know that we may be melting the skin off of children in order to give them freedom, or to prevent Saddam Hussein from possibly melting the skins off of those children at some future date. These are good and noble things to bring children, especially the ones who have not been killed by melting their skin.

I know, as well, that we do not drop "chemical weapons" on Iraq. We may, in the course of fighting insurgents in civilian neighborhoods, drop "incendiaries" or other airborne weaponry which may melt the skins off of children as an accidental side effect of illuminating their neighborhoods or melting the skins off their neighbors. In that this still can be classified as melting the skins off of children, I feel comfortable in stating that the United States should not condone the practice. (This may mean, when fighting in civilian neighborhoods, we take nuanced steps to avoid melting the skin off of children, such as not dropping munitions that melt the skin off of children.)

And I know it is true, there is some confusion over whether the United States was a signatory to the Do Not Melt The Skin Off Of Children part of the Geneva conventions, and whether or not that means we are permitted to melt the skin off of children, or merely are silent on the whole issue of melting the skin off of children.

But all that aside, there are very good reasons, even in a time of war, not to melt the skin off of children.

  • First, because the insurgency will inevitably be hardened by tales of American forces melting the skin off of children.

  • Second, because the civilian population will harbor considerable resentment towards Americans for melting the skin off of their children.


And, unless Saddam Hussein had a brigade or two consisting of six year olds, we can presume that children, like perhaps nine tenths or more of their immediate families, are civilians.

Fallujah: The Pentagon's War Atrocities & MassacreNow some like to call Liberals, who generally oppose this sort of thing - bleeding hearts. As if to imply that caring and compassion for non-combatants who've been burned alive is simply the result of misplaced guilt. If that's so, then exactly what - I wonder - would you call those who advocate charcoal children as a genuine method of achieve peace and democracy?

How could such a thing happen? Is it merely a by-product of "doing everything you can" to protect the people of America, or is it something else? Right now we have a President who claims "We do not torture" while his Vice President is beating every bush in Congress to ensure that - just in case - the CIA can use Torture if it needs too. Cognative Dissonance much?

"Last month, the Senate voted for a ban on torture 90-9. You heard me correctly: Nine United States Senators refused to vote against torture. Those senators included Illinois Democrat Thumbscrews McGee, Iowa's Cattleprod von Analpair and, of course, Ted Stevens [of] Alaska."
---Jon Stewart
Look, it's not like a few Ethics Refresher classes are going to replace what's clearly missing in these people. There's something fundamentally wrong with people who can rationalize means such as these, no matter what the ends might be.

Thirty five years ago it was pictures such as these that finally made the American public realize the wrongness of the Vietnam War -- how many more Abu Ghraib's, how many more detainee who've been murdered while in custody, how many more burned and charred children is it going to take?

Is this who we are? Is this how we fight terrorism and bring "justice" to the world? I'd like to scream "NO", but in truth can only shake my head and quietly whisper...


But then again, why bother being shocked. This is who we've been for a long time - don't you know that Napalm sticks to Kids?


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