Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Al-Reuters, a week late, all wrong again
Al-Reuters has picked up on the white phosphorus non-story here. The story made its way around the blogosphere last week and was debunked pretty thoroughly. Gotta love this "reporting":
Venable said white phosphorus is not outlawed or banned by any convention. However, a protocol to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons forbids using incendiary weapons against civilians or against military targets amid concentrations of civilians.
The United States did not sign the protocol.
Oh, the drama. Yes, the US didn't sign the protocol in 1980, for reasons that are a little fuzzy--I suspect it had something to do with the Soviets and their untrustworthiness--but I found this press release from way back in 1996:
The U.S. has ratified the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), which constrains the use of certain weapons, including landmines. The U.S. led the international effort to strengthen CCW restrictions on landmine use, adopted in 1996.
So whatever the US did or didn't do in 1980 bears little relevance today. The fact is the news media is treating white phosphorus as if it is mustard gas, or worse. The best debunking came from an Instapundit reader a week ago:
Just wanted to comment on the allegations going 'round about "indiscriminate" use of white phosphorus against civilians. I'm a former armor officer and Vietnam vet who has used WP on quite a number of occasions. So far as I know it is no longer made for tank (or Bradley) guns, but is fired by artillery and at times by mortars.
We use WP as a marking round, because it makes a nice column of white smoke that's easy to see. The most common use is with air strikes and helicopters -- you can direct them in relation to the smoke column and thus avoid hitting your own troops or civilians. I suppose you could use it as an incendiary (and it says so in the book) but I've never seen it used that way, because it's not very efficient.
So did we use WP in Fallujah? Maybe -- but the effects would have been quite limited because the burst radius is about 150' (that for a 155mm shell), and it only affects people who get some particles of it on them. We also have a non-WP smoke round that we use for screening.
Now, WP is nasty stuff, no doubt. If you get it on you it will burn you badly and it's very difficult to extinguish. But it's not a "chemical" weapon except in the sense that any non-nuke is a chemical weapon i.e. it works by means of a chemical reaction. Nor is it in any sense banned by any sort of international convention. Some of the drivel coming from these so-called human right organizations is unbelievable -- that people can be burned or "caramalized" (what does that mean?) without their clothes burning. WP will burn anything it comes in contact with.
Or...that WP creates a killing toxic "cloud." I'm sure breathing the smoke isn't the best thing for you, but Sarin it ain't. Both these statements ought to be your clue that you're dealing with pure BS.
It always amazes me what people will believe, but apparently there is a segment of the MSM that will believe anything as long as it's anti-American.
UPDATE: Apparently, saying that the "US ratified the 1980 CCW" is a bit of an overstatement. I was corrected succinctly in the comments here.posted by the wolf | 2:14 PM