Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Willie Pete

It's not nice to laugh at such matters but sometimes war is so ridiculous you just can't help it. The new wrinkle in this ever-continuing saga called Iraq revolves around the use of white phosphorus by US troops during the fighting in Fallujah. White phosphorus (WP) was first used extensively during the Vietnam war to transform wide areas of hostile territory into a close approximation of the very depths of Hell. It's nasty. If it touches flesh, it'll burn and keep burning til it reaches bone, and even then it'll continue to burn until deprived of oxygen. A documentary on Italian TV alleged that WP was used on Iraqi civilians in Fallujah; a charge the Pentagon denies, claiming it was only used to illuminate the battlefield. Field reports from the Marines in the area showed that this illuminate-the-battlefield ek-ek was pure bunk. The Pentagon then turned around and admitted that, yes, we used it as a weapon, but against enemy combatants. The opponents of the war, predictably enough, will not stop at yelling, 'A-HA! Liar, liar, pants on fire.' They aim to humiliate G.W. into submission. Good luck. They aim to do this by pointing out the hypocrisy of the US in condemning Saddam's use of chemical weapons while using one themselves.

As it turns out, WP is both a chemical weapon and it isnt, according to how you use it. There are legal niceties involved and the Pentagon has a lot of legal outs, due in part to the ambiguity to which WP's use can be classified as illegal. Thank God for conventions. What would killing people be like without internationally accepted conventions, eh? We're not savages.

Memo to terrorists from Rumsfeld: "We may be bombing the heck out of you, but we're satisfying all conventions of civilized warfare. We're not going to use anything illegal and to show our good faith, we'll stop using WP and use our regular munitions instead. How does thermobaric weapons grab you? Please be assured that you'll be just as dead with these items as with the ambiguously lethal WP. Thank you. P.S.: Sorry about the civilian casualties. Unfortunately, this stuff kills them, too. But having killed your fair share of them, you already knew that."

In the meantime, as all this brouhaha about the use of WP simmers down, there's still the mainly unaddressed and underreported problem with the use of Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions dating back to the first Gulf War. I wonder, how many Filipino workers in Iraq and Kuwait have come home with symptoms similar to Gulf War Syndrome?

There's no such thing as a clean war. No such thing as a holy war. War is heck. Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide: The real enemy cannot be destroyed. The real enemy is war itself.

1 comment:

grifter said...

that's why there has to be a Justice League. or the New Avengers.