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.