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When the defendant is the US, the guilty bar is lowered to the floor

Rob over at Say Anything (a former GuestBanger around these parts) has an article up that got me thinking about a larger issue. In that piece, Rob skillfully dismantles a load of tripe that the United States used "chemical weapons" and "weapons of mass destruction" in the Battle of Fallujah.

This dreadful, terrifying, horrible weapon? White phosphorus.

Now, white phosphorus has been used by the military since Viet Nam, and almost never as a direct weapon. It's used for lighting and smoke generation -- paradoxically, to make things visible and invisible. It's rarely used as a direct weapon against people or targets because we, quite simply, have stuff that's far more efficient -- like thermite or napalm.

And it's not really a great innovation. The idea of having something that will generate great amounts of light on a battlefield, or spew out concealing smoke, goes back a very long time. Just in the 20th Century flares and flare shells (fired by large guns) were used in both World Wars, "smoke screens" date back centuries, and "tracer rounds" (glowing rounds of ammunition that allow the shooter to see where their fire is ending up) were introduced in World War I. The appeal of white phosphorus (or "Willy Pete," as the users often shorten it) is that it both illuminates and conceals, and does both exceptionally well. But to call it a "weapon of mass destruction" is like putting a machine gun on a bulldozer and calling it a "tank."

So, what's the point of doing so, other than demonstrating the observer's rank ignorance? I think it could be a smidgen more insidious than that.

The current theme of most political discussions around the world is "just how bad the US is." That we're the bad guys is a given; it's only a question of how bad we are. And in that context, there is a definite bias and trend towards hyping anything we do as the epitome of evil.

We use white phosphorus in Fallujah, to illuminate the enemy and make them easier to kill. If some happens to directly hit one, then it's "chemical warfare" and "using a weapon of mass destruction." But if the other side finds one of Saddam's supposedly-nonexistent poison-gas artillery shells and uses it to fashion an IED against our forces, that's an "aberration" and a "fluke."

Our enemies include a regime that used rape as a weapon of oppression, that executed its enemies by feeding them into shredders and throwing them off buildings. They punished "criminals" by amputation and execution, including such notable techniques as stoning and smothering. Yet we are accused of "torture" when we inflict such horrid fates as loud music, overly warm or cool temperatures, and assaults on their dignity (not health, but dignity and pride).

The other side routinely targets civilians for slaughter, often singling out for attack the most innocent and vulnerable populations they can find (witness the Beslan school massacre). Our side goes out of its way to avoid or minimize civilian casualties, to the point where Israel actually reduces the explosives in its missiles to reduce their effectiveness when hunting terrorists who deliberately surround themselves with civilians, yet we are the perpetrators of massacres and wholesale butchery.

Paradoxically, I find myself agreeing with the critics, in general principle. We ARE better than those we fight, and we OUGHT to hold ourselves to a much higher standard than we expect from them. Hell, that difference is one of the key moral reasons we ought to fight.

But to carry it to the extremes they are using, by raising the bar to impossible levels for us while utterly ignoring the routine obscenities practiced by the other side, isn't fair or just or right. It's simple propagandizing against us, and it needs to be recognized as such -- and its practitioners need and deserve our scorn, our sanction, our refusal to accept it passively.

Maybe we're not the perfect good guys, the proverbial "white hats" all filled with virtue and kindness and goodness in this fight. But dammit, we're a hell of a lot better than the black hats, and that fact needs to be reinforced again and again and again in the face of such people as Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Ramsey Clark, and their ilk.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference When the defendant is the US, the guilty bar is lowered to the floor:

» Myopic Zeal linked with Using White Phosphorous in Fallujah

» ReidBlog linked with White line

» Joe's Dartblog linked with White phosphorus just isn't deadly enough

» Myopic Zeal linked with White Phosphorus in Iraq

Comments (35)

Things may have changed sin... (Below threshold)

Things may have changed since I was in the military back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, but as I recall, thermite grenades are used to melt things like engine blocks and cannon chambers to render them useless. It's a grenade about the size of a pop can that generates tremendous heat. It's not an antipersonnel weapon.

Here' my favorite moonbat-s... (Below threshold)

Here' my favorite moonbat-stopping line: when I hear someone saying how bad the US is, I smile and say, "Oh, how I wish we really fought the way you think we do--the war would be over in a week."

By the time the person has gather what few thoughts he has, I've walked away.

Goddess' retort is an effec... (Below threshold)

Goddess' retort is an effective first salvo, but the battle is not won by cute quips alone. This battle front of the minds in our war could easily turn into our Russian Front. I wish I could find an effective vaccine aganst this pseudo-intellectual virus, but with so many apparently irreversibly infected with Microchiroptera lunaius, dealing with the already brain-damaged victims is a separate Herculean task (perhaps the stable solution is the best, such as in NOLA) I would approach first.

Anyone got any better ideas?

I thought the reason self ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I thought the reason self righteously trumpeted over and over again by Bush on why we invaded Iraq was to prevent Iraqis using outlawed chemical and biological weapons,.. not to enable us to use them on them. Of course Bush has said repeatedly that is is 'a struggle betwen good and evil' and we are defending the survival of civilization itself. And recently Americans don't torture..mmmnn and Americans wan't a clear agenda.. (no gray areas, that even Jay, a Bush apoligist admits has occurred). I am reminded about what Gandhi said when asked about Western Civilization.."not a bad idea" Maybe we should strive for that ,rather than seek to justify the same barbaric practices that have been the cause for so much military censorship and resentment in Iraq.

Mr. Crickmore,Gand... (Below threshold)

Mr. Crickmore,

Gandhi was against fighting the Nazis. For him, it was better to let them rule Europe and beyond than to lift a finger against them.

Mr. Crickmore, did you NOT ... (Below threshold)

Mr. Crickmore, did you NOT read the article? White Phosphorous is NOT a weapon! White Phos is a means to either illuminate or conceal an area by providing large amounts of light (which is by burning the chemical) or to conceal with large quantities of smoke. I SERIOUSLY DOUBT that anyone used WP on another person (on purpose) due to it's unpredictable nature as an incendiary device meant only to illuminate or conceal. To say that our military would do this is to say they are complete imbeciles, which they are not. Quite the opposite, we have close to the best (if not THE BEST) trained military IN THE WORLD, therefore if a grenade is anti-personell they use it as such, if it is a flash or smoke grenade, they use it that way, if it happens to burn someone (as it has and will do again) that is a horrible accident, but let me put this as delicately as I can, THIS IS WAR, not a picnic, and those we are fighting would just as soon use White Phos against us AS TORTURE and then CUT OF THE HEADS of those they tortured, therefore, if it's "us or them", KILL'EM ALL!

Now, I'm sure you'll want to call me a racist, blood thirsty, war-mongerer, and if I am that because I would rather take the fight to them and finish the job that should have been done over a decade ago, so be it, but DO NOT accuse our military of stupidity, I just will not accept it, especially knowing (as I do) what they go through in training!

...bodies of Fallu... (Below threshold)
B Moe:
...bodies of Fallujah residents, some still in their beds, whose clothes remain largely intact but whose skin has been dissolved or caramelised or turned the consistency of leather by the shells.

A biologist in Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq, interviewed for the film, says: "A rain of fire fell on the city, the people struck by this multi-coloured substance started to burn, we found people dead with strange wounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact."

Bodies burned but the clothes intact, hmmm.... sounds more like this to me:

White Phosphorous has been ... (Below threshold)

White Phosphorous has been used by United States armed forces extensively since WWII, including the Normandy invasion. It is not considered a chemical weapon.

Bitching about us using FLA... (Below threshold)

Bitching about us using FLARES?

They'll just grasp any ol' straw, won't they?

White phosphorus was used b... (Below threshold)

White phosphorus was used back in world war I

And, if I remember correctly from one of the Ambrose books, we used white phosphorus tank shells in Normandy (and probably elsewhere) against dug in personnel.

The germans complained about it, and thought it was particularly awful, but mainly because they didn't have as large a supply of the shells. (Again, if I remember correctly it came from Ambrose's D-Day)

Oh, and it's not "chemical warfare" any more than using high explosives is. (or cordite, or copper and lead--or any more than depleted uranium penetrators is nuclear warfare)

White Phosphorus (WP), know... (Below threshold)

White Phosphorus (WP), known as Willy Pete, is used for signaling, screening, and incendiary purposes.

Troops in WWII feared this weapon, with good reason: the shellburst was followed by

"...a snowstorm of small, white particles that floated down upon us. We looked in amazement, and eyes filled with instant terror. Where the particles landed on shirts and trousers they sizzled and burned. White phosphorus! We brushed our clothing frantically, pushed shirt collars up. If any of the stuff touched the skin, it could inflict a horrible burn, increasing in intensity as it burrowed into a man's flesh...

- Lt. Robert Weiss


"The 1980 Geneva Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons (Protocol III) prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilian populations or by air attack against military forces that are located within concentrations of civilians. [1] The United States is among the nations that have not signed this protocol."

Oh, but didn't you know, we... (Below threshold)

Oh, but didn't you know, we are supposed to let them do whatever they want, but we are not to fight, defend, become upset, speak, be Christian, be male, be white, or anything else that could be deemed "offensive". Basically, we were supposed to apologize after TERRORISTS FLEW PLANES INTO THE WTC, because obviously the US offended them, and therefore even though they MURDERED OVER 3000 CIVILIANS, we are the bad guys!

Stinking moon-bat logic, gives you a head-ache, doesn't it?

"Stinking moon-bat logic, g... (Below threshold)

"Stinking moon-bat logic, gives you a head-ache, doesn't it?"

Noooo, SmokeEater, I was just pointing out that White Phosphorus IS a weapon.

WTF is the connection between Iraq and 9-11? Hmmm?

Maybe we just need some more men on the ground. Perhaps then we can avoid these inconvenient weapon type technicalities...
Here, I'll provide some material that might inspire you to enlist:

Michigan Dad Loses 230 Pounds to Enlist in Army


Just another sad day for th... (Below threshold)

Just another sad day for the US - and this board I just stumbled on seems only interested in saying "they are real bad guys so it is all right that Americans can do this" (a paraphrase). You cannot justify this kind of killing, especially of women and children. You should first go and look at the photos of the people who suffered and died from this before you mock them (B Moe) or say that it is not really a weapon.

Whether or not Willy Pete h... (Below threshold)

Whether or not Willy Pete has legitimate purposes, if it was used as a weapon, which it can, than this would constitute a war crime. It has been banned as a weapon in 1981(?), and can only be used for incendiary purposes.

If the RAI documentary shows clear abuse of this substance, whether against insurgents or civilians, then it is a war crime plain and simple... though if this is the case, I am sure there will be a Private to take the blame.

Though the larger picture clearly shows that this whole "war" is illegal and in entirety a war crime itself... You can't punch your neighbor in the face just because you think that he'd like to do that to you.

we're a hell of a lot bett... (Below threshold)

we're a hell of a lot better than the black hats...

we make better morons.

Stupidity is more of a crim... (Below threshold)

Stupidity is more of a crime than the war in Iraq. Where did our school system fail you all, to think our troops are liars, while you believe the muslim daily news and the eyewitness accounts of the head-chopping insurgents?

Our school system did fail,... (Below threshold)

Our school system did fail, if you think we, us Americans did not do it....

"...while you believe the m... (Below threshold)

"...while you believe the muslim daily news and the eyewitness accounts of the head-chopping insurgents?"

The report was authored in ITALY.


Again, I ask- Is knowledge optional here or what?

On the related topic about ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

On the related topic about torture this article in this week's New Yorker gives a convincing rebutal to Bush's categorical "Americans do not torture" claim. What sort of bubble does this simpleton Bush live in, or am I raising the bar to am impossible extreme that Jay Tea feels is unfair to Dubya's capabilities. Is Bush even aware of of the dimensions of what is going on in his name, or worse the country's name, or has Cheney, his 'vice president of torture' completely baffled him?

"Again, I ask- Is knowledge... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

"Again, I ask- Is knowledge optional here or what?"

They let you post, so I guess it is.

Is knowledge optional</... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Is knowledge optional..I am not sure what are your refering to Moe? the white phosphorous shells or the 'interrogation/torture techniques. I will accept Kevin's line about the latest football Terence Owen thread "full disclosure or accountability as the New Yorker asks for. Neither you must admit are the American people getting from their President? You remember, for starters how he strenously resisted the holding of the Congressional 9/11 commission?

I was making fun of duduck ... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

I was making fun of duduck in the post above yours. You might come off a little more coherently if you would actually read the threads you spew on.

And it is Mr. Moe to you, punk.

And you sir, might be a lit... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

And you sir, might be a little more impressive, if you were a liitle less abusive, or is this the neo side of conservative manners that is raging.

Every once in a while, I fi... (Below threshold)

Every once in a while, I find myself having dark thoughts of showing the world how evil we are not, by showing a part of how evil we can be. An example: rather than taking Fallujah, we could have leveled it utterly flat, killing all within and taking not a single casualty doing so. Then bounce the rubble around a bit. Give people who hate America both something to compare to and something to think about.

Of course, we'll never do so, and I am proud of that. But there is that little dark corner of my mind that thinks like a Mongol.

The weapons debate is besid... (Below threshold)
Aidan Maconachy:

The weapons debate is beside the point. You fight wars to win and war by the very nature of the beast, is never pretty.

We still haven't evolved any concept of a PC war and to my knowledge there was an orchestrated mass exodus of non-combatant civilians from Fallujah before the fight was engaged.

What gets missed in the lefty effort to discredit the US military, is that this city was a terror center and urban bomb making maze. Insurgents held the local citizenry in thrall, and there is little doubt the city had to be secured or else the entire logic of the American presence in Iraq should be called into question - and that's an entirely different debate.

As I recall the assault receive the backing of the Iraqi interim government.

Let's see what else the moo... (Below threshold)

Let's see what else the moonbats have a problem with ... hand grenades? Daisy Cutters? Fully automatic weapons? Rubber bands?

Maybe Sen. Miller was right. They would rather us fight with spitballs.

And you sir, might... (Below threshold)
B Moe:
And you sir, might be a little more impressive, if you were a liitle less abusive, or is this the neo side of conservative manners that is raging.


First off, WP is not thermi... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

First off, WP is not thermite. Two entirely different things, so don't confuse them. Thermite is for destroying equipment, it slags things. I think too many people have been watching "The Rock".

WP IS a weapon. Period. It's been used as a weapon for roughly a century. Yes, they also tell you it is used for signalling and smoke, and it does that, but the simple fact of the matter is that the lethal radius of the standard M67 frag grenade is 5m (15m for wounding), while the bursting radius for a WP grenade is 17m.

That's a rather large differece, but it's also farther than a lot of people can effectively throw a hand grenade, which, when coupled with the rather nasty effects of WP, means that for signalling/concealment/illumination you're going to use a nice safe (relatively) colored smoke, white smoke, or parachute flare. You also do NOT want to have one of these get hit while it's on you, this is the crap that keeps burning its way into you. WP is best left for artillery shells, and they are another matter. I hate frag grenades; but there is no way in hell you'll get me anywhere near a WP grenade.

That said, though, WP is not a chemical weapon or WMD -- that's just fucking ridiculous.

This no doubt comes from the same sort of nutballs who bitch about depleted uranium -- which is toxic like any other heavy metal (like, say, LEAD), and quite thoroughly nonradioactive. They actually use it for radiation shielding for sensitive instruments; the human body is more radioactive than DU, but ignorant people STILL piss and moan that we're using 'radiological weapons' on people.

There were also some nutballs whining about some sort of sooper-seekrit death ray being used in Fallujah. These are the same people who accuse The Jews of using a "heart attack ray" on Arafat, putting stuff in arab well water that makes their dicks fall off, and so on.

So, are these ninnys going ... (Below threshold)

So, are these ninnys going to rant and rave about all the other militaries on the planet that use willie pete in exactly the same way that we do? I didn't think so.

Dud-attack-I realize... (Below threshold)

I realize the report was authored in ITALY. What I meant to say was
"...while you believe the (communist Italian propaganda journalists' report on) the eyewitness accounts of the head-chopping insurgents?"

Emphasis should also be placed on Aidan's comment:
"What gets missed in the lefty effort to discredit the US military, is that this city was a terror center and urban bomb making maze."

So where's the outrage on the left about the terrorist bombs that kill innocent women and children in Iraq? Anyone?

Kossacks are planning to pi... (Below threshold)

Kossacks are planning to picket Pine Bluff Arsenal in AR:


Donks should be very careful as the arsenal is a major employer in Pine Bluff which is largely a low-income, economically depressed Democrat town. UAPB is a historic black college.

Don't think out-of-staters planning to do away with Arkansas jobs is going to go over big with Bubba and friends and may force AR deeper into the Red zone. Not a great strategy for 2008.

"In that piece, Rob skillfu... (Below threshold)
Harold S:

"In that piece, Rob skillfully dismantles "

Did you even read the piece? Rob "skillfully dismantles" nothing! All he says is that it can't be true, besides why would they use WP when they could drop bombs... as if there were no use for napalm either...

Geez, you're easy to please.

So, Cyberluddite, when are ... (Below threshold)
Harold S:

So, Cyberluddite, when are you and the rest of your ninnys going to stop bitching and whining about how America is better then those other armies that use "Wille Pete" too?

Willie Pete. What a cute ass phrase for raining hell.

Hey Wiz Bung!"Our ... (Below threshold)
Harold S:

Hey Wiz Bung!

"Our enemies include a regime that used rape as a weapon of oppression"

- Nah, we use light bulbs up the ass.( Abu Ghairab ) Higher tech, wouldn't you say?

" executed its enemies by feeding them into shredders and throwing them off buildings."

- How's tossing them out of a helicoper for you? ( CIA )

" amputation and execution, "

- Like our 20,000 soldiers missing arms and legs? or our over 2000 dead ones? ( Iraq ) Yeehah!

" stoning and smothering. "

- What, waterboarding and kneecapping not good enough for ya? ( Gitmo )

"Yet we are accused of "torture" when we inflict such horrid fates as loud music,"

- What you don't know is that they're cranking up Donnie and Marie. Still feel good about America?

"overly warm or cool temperatures,"

- Like a trailer full of steaming hot, dead Afghans! What a great sauna.

" and assaults on their dignity "

- Listening to George Bush speak should be insulting enough, I say.


What a load.






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