Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Laws of War and White Phosphorous in Fallujah

The Economist reports that white phosphorus was used as a weapon of war during last years struggle for Fallujah. Let us stipulate that it is true. Is this a war crime? The The laws of War are that if one side breaks a law, the other side may break it similarly in a demonstration that there is a penalty for breaking the law. The British endured, for a while the bombing of Coventry in part to conceal their possession of German code. The bombing of Dresden was to demonstrate to the German people that there would be a penalty for breaking laws against bombing civilian targets. We all know that, in a subterfuge, former US soldiers acting on a humanitarian mission were drawn into the center of Fallujah and hacked and burned to death, with body parts strung on a bridge. This was to the delight of the multitude including children. The author of the above book on the laws of War was a US prosecutor at Nuremberg, and it would be on his moral authority that white phosphorous could be used in Fallujah on one occasion.

3 comments:

Trish said...

Michael,
I am curious to know if you read John McCain's piece in Newsweek last week regarding the ineffectiveness of torture in getting credible intelligence and his personal feelings that soldiers need to feel that as Americans doing their duty they are above certain behaviors that are accepted in other cultures. McCain says it much better than I am summarizing it here, but I would like to know your opinion of Sen. McCain's essay. Thanks

mike brophy said...

Thanks for your comment. I don't think there is disagreement with that sentiment. I guess people might wonder 'and then..' So far 'and then' has been codified in Army regulations and Manuals. I am just a real big fan of the "Taguba Report," a link to which is noted in my side panel. It's not too long and admirably well done, General Antonio Taguba's official Army review of the events, errors and responsibilites at Abu Ghraib. I'd like to see General Taguba as Seretary of Defense. I will look to find the Senator's article, also something in the Economist a January or 2 ago on torture and the English historical problems therein.

Michael said...

A sailor fom the aircraft carrier on which McCain flew told me that Navy rules were that a pilot above a certain rank was not required to fly above a certain parallel in North VN. He disregarded this rule as he had many at the Naval Academy perhaps there acting up in relation to his father, a high ranking naval officer. Arising from disregard of his privilege to restrict his flying over North VN, he was shot down. He is concerned for our victory and, of course, that it be achieved properly. I believe he would make an effective commander in chief. My new post may reflect some of the issues that may be tangential to his remarks.