I’ve stayed away from the “White Phosphorus in Fallujah” story, in part because it’s ridiculous and in part because I just haven’t had time to point out the ridiculousness. But even though I’m not following it very closely, it seems that it may have entered a new phase.
The first phase, of course, was the “US troops used chemical weapons in Fallujah” phase. This was obviously, even at first glance, a complete and total crock. Anyone who knows anything about weaponry could immediately see that it was a non-starter, so it only ran in the Legacy Media for about four or five days.
The next phase seems to have been the “It’s illegal to use white phosphorus” phase, with numerous treaties that may or may not apply to white phosphorus brandied about. This phase was a lot of fun because…well, um…Actually this phase was pretty stupid, too. As far as I can tell, the US hasn’t signed any of the treaties or agreements that appear to have anything to do with the situation. So this only ran for about four or five days, as well.
The latest phase could maybe be called the “America didn’t sign any of the damning conventions, so that means they intentionally target civilians” phase. This phase can also just be called the “Damn America” phase, and it’s the phase where nearly every issue ends up.
Now, as I stated, I’m not really following this story all that closely, so my analysis might be a bit off. But the whole “white phosphorus uses a chemical reaction to burn so it’s a chemical weapon” thinking is truly laughable. That logic, of course, makes rifles chemical weapons. Something overlooked, in fact, is that fact that if a human being pulls the trigger, rifles might also be biological weapons, might they not?
Anyway, J.D. Henderson at Intel Dump notes a BBC story that includes a section called What are the international conventions? which helpfully reads, in total:
Washington is not a signatory to any treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus against civilians.
White phosphorus is covered by Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons, which prohibits its use as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations or in air attacks against enemy forces in civilian areas.
The US – unlike 80 other countries including the UK – is not a signatory to Protocol III.
Not mentioned at Intel Dump is something that I’m particularly fond of in this: Note that they don’t say “Washington is not a signatory to any treaty banning the use of white phosphorus against civilians.” They say “restricting”, which might give one the impression that not only won’t we agree not to use it against civilians, but we don’t even want any restrictions on its use against civilians. Maybe it’s a translation thing.
Anyway, J.D. Henderson points out:
It is NEVER legal under international laws of land warfare to deliberately target civilians. You can not use WP – or any other weapon of any kind – against civilians. We don’t “carpet-bomb” like in WWII, when civilian populations were viewed by some as legitimate targets. We do not fire WP or any other weapon at civilians.
Any weapon that is “legal” under the laws of land warfare can be used against enemy forces in civilian areas, as long as the use of that weapon fits the “proportionality” test – you don’t kill 500 civilians to get one bad guy, etc.
This story makes it sound like the US is defending its right to use white phosphorus against civilians. That is not the case. The US is reiterating what is a legal and known fact – that WP is not a “chemical weapon” and that it is not a “banned” weapon. It is a conventional weapon like high explosive, bullets, bayonets, or hand grenades. The only restrictions on its use are those that apply to all other weapons – you don’t target civilians. If civilians are harmed, by any weapon, it is either an accident or a crime.
You really ought to go read the whole thing.