Willy Pete I shall hate you
November 7, 2005 5:48 PM   Subscribe

La strage nascosta (italian language) Today Rainews 24 part of RAI Television (Italian possible equivalent of PBS) broadcasted on a satellite channel a short documentary concerning the conquest of Falluja city. The documentary presents many images and allegations suggesting that U.S. army probably used White Phosphorous on the city during the offensive of 8 November 2004 with devastating consequences on civilians and insurgents. The substance is used on battlefield for purposes including production of dense smoke (M156) and also for incendiary purposes.(Warning, disturbing pictures of dead people). Direct link goes to documentary, English audio WMV link here. NSFW, extremely graphic, and very disturbing. Previous reference [1] here on Meta.
posted by elpapacito (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
incendiary purposes.(Warning, disturbing pictures of dead people)

Um that link talks about the Dresden bombing. It has nothing to do with what's going on now. It kind of hurt the entire post if you ask me.
posted by Dean Keaton at 6:27 PM on November 7, 2005


Um that link talks about the Dresden bombing. It has nothing to do with what's going on now. It kind of hurt the entire post if you ask me.

It's referring to the 700,000 phosphorous bombs used for incendiary purposes in the bombing of Dresden. It's related, since the post is about the use of white phosphorous on Falluja.
posted by mullingitover at 6:33 PM on November 7, 2005


There are earlier accounts of white phosphorus being used in Fallujah. On April 10, 2004, the North County Times reported a mortar team firing "round after round of high explosives and white phosphorus charges into the city." On November 9, 2004, the Telegraph reported that "white phosphorus shells lit up the sky." On November 10, 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that "some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds." In their November 22, 2004 issue, Newsweek reported that "white phosphorus rounds would illuminate entire sections of the city."
posted by kirkaracha at 6:34 PM on November 7, 2005


Ahhh yes, is that what white phosphorous does to the city (and its inhabitants)? Illuminates it? Oh look at those pretty firebombs lighting up the sky... Thanks, Newsweek, Telegraph, et al.
posted by mek at 6:37 PM on November 7, 2005


the light of Liberation descends upon the ungrateful, unhelpful Mesopotamian hordes
posted by matteo at 6:46 PM on November 7, 2005


O, Ciao, elpapacito, why are you reading and posting things from Rense.com? Ma quando mai! Che cosa faciamo con questa post? Ha, kidding. (Except for the Rense part.) Forgive me for piling on, but this post left me confused.
posted by snsranch at 6:47 PM on November 7, 2005


I don't understand why this is news - the Pentagon already admitted to dropping napalm in Iraq in August '03. Individual soldiers are issued the M-15 WP grenade for smoke, signalling and offensive purposes. WP is not banned by any military law I am aware of and (unlike napalm) used by virtually all modern military groups. The Russian use of the RPO-A thermobaric warhead in Chechnya is much more frightening to me since they are one of the nastiest things to be on the receiving end of. I would be extremely surprised if the military had not used WP munitions in Iraq.

(incidentally - no I don't support the use of WP on anyone; particularly if it's just lobbed into a city at random so please don't come back with the "you're celebrating in the death of the brown-skins" shite).
posted by longbaugh at 6:50 PM on November 7, 2005


The video itself is fairly enlightening, especially the damning interviews with veterans of the current conflict. Pretty sickening, but sadly not so surprising (isn't that just the state of the world today?).
BTW: It's "Whiskey Pete" (WP=White Phosphorus)
posted by numlok at 6:55 PM on November 7, 2005


kirkaracha, white phosphorous is supposed to light up the sky. That's the "proper" use for it.
posted by smackfu at 7:02 PM on November 7, 2005


The grenade launchers we had on our tanks used white phosphorus. The WP in air creates the thick white smoke known as phosphorus pentoxide P2O5). I can tell you there was not often a more scary job then charging them up, and accidental discharge was enough of a risk that we rarely trained with them. When we went through training they explained how their main purpose was for smoke, but that the phosphorus on incoming infantry was also a good way of keeping them away, as there's no real way to put it out once it starts burning into the flesh, where it consumes the moister in the muscles and blood at about 1500 celcius. Although firing them on infantry was never a doctrine per se, we all know that it could be used as such, and I doubt any of us would have batted an eye had there been the need.


About the only thing as nasty were the shotgun type rounds (obus à mitraille in french) we had on the tanks designed to plow into a platoon of infantry at close range or to take them off buddy's tank. People often tend to forget how effective of a killing machine the military can be, and I'm glad opportunities like this come up for us to realize how extreme it can get.
posted by furtive at 7:29 PM on November 7, 2005


Oh, and for the record, illumination rounds use white phosphorus but the round is attached to a parachute and floats high above the ground for minutes at a time, it goes out before it hits the ground and its use by mortars and artillery shouldn't be misconstrued as a weapon to attack people with. It wouldn't be a very effective weapon, although that doesn't mean some haven't been hurt by it. Oh, and those M156 rockets linked to are not used anymore afaik.
posted by furtive at 7:44 PM on November 7, 2005


Not trying to be an apologist or anything, just sharing what I know.
posted by furtive at 7:46 PM on November 7, 2005


Related and previously on MeFi:
Falluja - The Day After (from Italian magazine Diario).
posted by blendor at 7:51 PM on November 7, 2005


Well, if you go to war, you may as well use all the weapons at your disposal, including WP -- or naplam, for that matter. The object is to kill and terrorize, after all, at minimum cost to your own side.

The issue shouldn't be what weapons are used -- those are concerns that only exist away from the battleground, by people who don't have to fight and risk their lives. The issue should be is this (insert geopolitical concern here) worth going to war for.
posted by showmethecalvino at 7:54 PM on November 7, 2005


Not in a snarky sense, but I'm curious how many actually watched the linked video.

There is footage about mid-way through of massive quantities of WP being fired repeatedly, with thousands of white-hot fragments raining to the city below.

It's fairly obvious it isn't being used for illumination, and that it is entirely indiscriminate.

On preview: Well, the irony here is that one of the primary reasons we're supposedly fighting this war due to chemical weapons and their use against civillians.
posted by numlok at 7:56 PM on November 7, 2005


yes but as a peace loving sort who abhors the war on Iraq, I gotta say, once the shooting starts the military are going to use what they've been given to kill people. That's their job. There aren't that many nice ways in a war zone to end up dead. I'm far more concerned about what they were doing to be assaulting Fallujah than how brutal they were. I expect them to be brutual, that's the definition of their job. My problems arise more when they're acting as police and internal security forces (and prison guards). That's not their job which is why they're so frigging bad at it.
posted by wilful at 8:11 PM on November 7, 2005


The object is to kill and terrorize, after all, at minimum cost to your own side.

Really? I thought the object was first to make the world safer from WMD's (does WP constitute a WMD?) and then to "save" the Iraq from an evil dictator who killed and tortured civilians and to bring peace, prosperity and democracy to the region.
I'm pretty sure that's what they said...
posted by c13 at 8:28 PM on November 7, 2005


I watched the video. I was more struck by the effects than the possible intentions involved. Even if they were meant to illuminate, "the road to hell..." and all that.
posted by blendor at 8:29 PM on November 7, 2005


Well wilful, despite sharing feelings about the abhorrent nature of this war, I politely disagree with your "that's their job" argument.

It just seems to me that validating the use of whatever weapons are at the military's disposal against whoever they'd like (so long as it's in a "war zone") can be seen as analogous to both "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" as well as "Why not just turn the whole place into a glass parking lot".

Know what I mean?
posted by numlok at 8:29 PM on November 7, 2005


Nice war porn, especially the gratuitous maggot shots. For anybody who'd rather not sit through all 27 minutes, here's a quick synopsis:

a) war sucks
b) war really sucked for napalmed Vietnamese kids
c) war really sucked for everybody in Falluja
d) war particularly sucked for the Fallujans after the U.S. Marines knocked down all the buildings, shot everybody, and used white phosphorus on them
e) war really, really sucked for the poor independent journalists who weren't allowed to film the action

Should the U.S. be in Iraq? Probably not. Was the destruction of Falluja necessary? No, although after this, it would have been tough to avoid without pulling the U.S. Military out of the theatre entirely. Does this "documentary" add anything to any broader discussion that might get the U.S. out of Iraq, avoid future Fallujas, or solve any of the stuff that got the U.S. into the Middle East in the first place? No.
posted by johnwilcox at 8:32 PM on November 7, 2005


Along with the video there are also three picture galleries. They rival the documentary in shear grisly horror.
posted by ethansr at 8:33 PM on November 7, 2005


Thanks for the info, furtive.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:37 PM on November 7, 2005


Does this "documentary" add anything to any broader discussion that might get the U.S. out of Iraq, avoid future Fallujas, or solve any of the stuff that got the U.S. into the Middle East in the first place? No.

It seems like every 30 years, the world needs a reminder about how horrible war is. We have to keep getting these things out in front of people and make it harder and harder for them to ignore them.

The alternative is to ignore it and throw up your hands and say nothing can be done, and let the bastards keep killing and keep killing and keep killing.
posted by empath at 8:44 PM on November 7, 2005


It just seems to me that validating the use of whatever weapons are at the military's disposal against whoever they'd like (so long as it's in a "war zone") can be seen as analogous to both "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" as well as "Why not just turn the whole place into a glass parking lot".

Know what I mean?


I do know what you mean but I don't think the statements are analogous. Fallujah was a 'hot' combat zone, with bombs, missiles and bullets flying everywhere, being pretty indiscriminate. Once they'd committed to do nasty things there, I don't see why WP is that much nastier than a rocket attack from a helicopter. You're still dead.
posted by wilful at 10:08 PM on November 7, 2005


FYI:

Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons (Protocol III). Geneva, 10 October 1980:
1. "Incendiary weapon" means any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat, or combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target. (a) Incendiary weapons can take the form of, for example, flame throwers, fougasses, shells, rockets, grenades, mines, bombs and other containers of incendiary substances.
Far as I can tell, the US is not a signatory to Protocol III:
States Parties to the CCW are required not only to sign and ratify the Convention but also to consent to be bound by at least two of the Protocols. The United States signed the CCW in 1982, ratified the Convention on March 24, 1995, and gave its consent to be bound by Protocols I and II in 1995. The United States submitted the Amended Protocol II—as well as Protocol III and Protocol IV, which have not been ratified—to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification on January 7, 1997. The Amended Protocol II was ratified on May 24, 1999.
Wikipedia's article on napalm confirms that:
International law does not prohibit the use of napalm or other incendiaries against military targets[2], but use against civilian populations was banned by a United Nations convention in 1980 [3]. The United States did not sign the agreement, but claimed to have destroyed its napalm arsenal by 2001.
All the same, napalm by any other name:
During the war, Pentagon spokesmen disputed reports that napalm was being used, saying the Pentagon's stockpile had been destroyed two years ago.

Apparently the spokesmen were drawing a distinction between the terms "firebomb" and "napalm." If reporters had asked about firebombs, officials said yesterday they would have confirmed their use.

What the Marines dropped, the spokesmen said yesterday, were "Mark 77 firebombs." They acknowledged those are incendiary devices with a function "remarkably similar" to napalm weapons.

Rather than using gasoline and benzene as the fuel, the firebombs use kerosene-based jet fuel, which has a smaller concentration of benzene.

Hundreds of partially loaded Mark 77 firebombs were stored on pre-positioned ammunition ships overseas, Marine Corps officials said. Those ships were unloaded in Kuwait during the weeks preceding the war.

"You can call it something other than napalm, but it's napalm," said John Pike, defense analyst with GlobalSecurity.org, a nonpartisan research group in Alexandria, Va.
It seems like the CIA considered Saddam's production of WP munitions to be part of a WMD program as recently as 2004, lumping it in with production of mustard, sarin and VX.

Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD:
Once committed, Iraq spent large amounts of money and resources on its CW program (see Figure 1). The outbreak of war with Iran in 1980 and Iraq’s failure to attain a speedy victory appear to have been the impetus for the Ministry of Defense’s launch of its industrial-scale, comprehensive, strategic CW program—code-named Research Center 922 or Project 922—on June 8, 1981. The objective was to produce CW agents—mustard, Tabun, Sarin, and VX, chemical munitions, and white phosphorus (WP) munitions.
The US State Department and Department of Defense categorically denies everything:
The fighting in Fallujah, Iraq has led to a number of widespread myths including false charges that the United States is using chemical weapons such napalm and poison gas. None of these allegations are true. [...]

On November 12, 2004, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a denial of the chemical weapons charge, stating:

"The United States categorically denies the use of chemical weapons at anytime in Iraq, which includes the ongoing Fallujah operation. Furthermore, the United States does not under any circumstance support or condone the development, production, acquisition, transfer or use of chemical weapons by any country. All chemical weapons currently possessed by the United States have been declared to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and are being destroyed in the United States in accordance with our obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention." [...]

Finally, some news accounts have claimed that U.S. forces have used "outlawed" phosphorus shells in Fallujah. Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. U.S. forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters.
posted by edverb at 10:21 PM on November 7, 2005


wilful: A rocket has a limited destructive "footprint", as well as a direct target (ie. point where you think the bad guy is, and pull the trigger).

In my book, dumping flaming chemicals on anyone and everything in sight (even the unlucky women and children stuck in that "hot zone") isn't in the same category.

Like I said, given that position, what would be the argument against just nuking the area "once they'd committed to do nasty things"? I mean, the US Army clearly has nukes ready to go, and "your still dead", right?
posted by numlok at 10:27 PM on November 7, 2005


wilful, "Hot combat zone" - in your lexicon - seems like a convenient excuse to abandon the Geneva Convention and kill everything that moves.

Your argument is tautological - "they decided to kill everything that moved so why should anyone care that they decided to kill everything that moved ?"

_________


"as a peace loving sort who abhors the war on Iraq, I gotta say, once the shooting starts the military are going to use what they've been given to kill people. That's their job." - wilful, if you condone the killing of innocent civilians you are very far from "peace loving" and are - in my book - even bloodthirsty.

Care to crush the corpses of infants underfoot ?

________

I see a number of apologists on this thread who seem detached from this standard :

There are places we will not go, things we will never do.


Yes, the US could turn most of the world into a glass parking lot.

The US probably could contrive to grind all life on the planet into pet food. Would we be justified in doing so for our perceived "self defense" ?

No.
posted by troutfishing at 10:29 PM on November 7, 2005


"U.S. forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters."
Watch the video again.

18:01 - 18:08 = Standard WP "illumination" rounds

18:08 - 18:37 = Raining hell... Yeah, uh huh, that's being used strictly for illumination. :rolleyes:
posted by numlok at 10:37 PM on November 7, 2005


.
posted by rdone at 10:38 PM on November 7, 2005


From the North County Times article I linked to:
Bogert is a mortar team leader who directed his men to fire round after round of high explosives and white phosphorus charges into the city Friday and Saturday, never knowing what the targets were or what damage the resulting explosions caused.
...
The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call "shake 'n' bake" into a cluster of buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:34 PM on November 7, 2005


thank you edverb
posted by pots at 11:38 PM on November 7, 2005


What's the argument here?

I don't see the conflict. Most of you are violently agreeing.

A. War bad.
B. Not adhering to rules of war bad.

But,
C. Given the option, troops will use anything at hand to kill the percieved enemy.

Fairly straightforward.
For you non-soldier folks it sounds dismissive, but when people are trying to kill you it's possible you may overreact. Sounds completely weird I know. I can only assume not many folks here have had people try to kill them. The fact that some, even most, of the people you might kill aren't trying to kill you doesn't enter into the equation.


The political situation is such that our troops were put in that situation. You want them to stop doing these things, put an end to the political situation.


Otherwise we're just sitting back looking at grisly photos congratulating each other on how really bothered we are by it and how we're so much better than those who aren't.
Doesn't bother me a bit. I can look at a sucking chest wound and eat a cup of pudding on top of red velvet cake.


I heard their forcibly injecting people with lead as well. Lead is a toxic substance. Some of those people may be innocent. Do I suck because in my mind these things are all under the term "war"?


Seriously tho, do something else about it. Because the people who know it and give a shit don't need to hear about it from some of you, and the people who know it, but don't care - won't look.


Hell, they covered up Guernica, do you think they'll give a second thought to this?

Of course the people who don't know it - whether they care or not, do you want someone that stupid on your side?

Put more succinctly - no, the administration lied about how and why it is conducting this war. Troops are complicit in that they are using weapons that should not be used in ways that should not be done.

Well, I guess it's all solved then.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:24 AM on November 8, 2005


Am I the only one who is having problems downloading this? Anyone have the full video who is able to seed it for BitTorrent?

It might be a very good thing to have this seeded, as I expect it will be widely in demand tomorrow.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:57 AM on November 8, 2005


I was flipping channels just now and encountered this quote. Seems to speak to the discussion.

Every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're not a good soldier.
Curtis E. Lemay
posted by showmethecalvino at 1:48 AM on November 8, 2005


Nifty quote, showmethecalvino.

What comes to mind as an analogy is supressive fire. If you do not aim directly at an enemy you may hit a non-combatant. The enemy is firing at you or to suppress your fire and there are non-combatants around him.(In smaller squad engagements this is less of a problem.) Do you fire? If you don't, you don't stop the enemy from firing, and like you he might hit innocents who will blame you both for fighting in the area.

On the larger scale - bombardment is suppressive fire.

It's late. Not thinking too clearly. But I'd rather be shut of the whole business.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:14 AM on November 8, 2005


I can look at a sucking chest wound and eat a cup of pudding on top of red velvet cake.

Oh boy! You're such a manly man!

I heard their forcibly injecting people with lead as well. Lead is a toxic substance.

And witty too.

I don't see the conflict.

Well, somehow I doubt that. Considering how many of you guys are coming back home all fucked up. You all still have to sleep sometimes, no?
posted by c13 at 3:42 AM on November 8, 2005


johnwilcox: thanks for sharing your opinion with us. I still miss the connection between porn and a war documentary but maybe you're into necrophilia, tastes be tastes.

Indeed the document doesn't add anything potentially problem-solving ,rather it divulges some evidence suggesting that WP may have been abused as it doesn't seem like it was erroneously overused.

We may learn now, we may have learned a few months ago but I have no doubt survivors divulged the whole story one year ago and are still repeating it over and over ; at least we see that we can reasonably expect extraordinary reactions as extraordinary measures were apparently used in Falluja... and who knows where else.

Obviously it wasn't divulged as that would kill some sense of "moral superiority" pervading some people...I have little doubt this sense will remain unshaken, but some adults have to deal with the problems that will invariably come while delusional moralists are busy waging wars against porn, gays or whatever distraction is hip these days.

Adults prefer and may need to know what the fuck is being done over there without any edulcoration, not because they are into "snuff" stuff, rather because reactions are more likely to be at least proportional to actions and goddamit an hell has been raised over there. I would retaliate, so I expect retaliation.
posted by elpapacito at 5:01 AM on November 8, 2005


It's worth pointing out that the video shows U.S. helicopters repeatedly using white phosphorus in wide swaths, and other accounts tell of U.S. troops repeatedly firing WP with mortars. The kill zone for WP is about a quarter of a mile wide... essentially a bit over a tenth of a mile from where it hits.

It burns flesh down to the bone, and if inhaled, results in lethal blisters in the throat and lungs.

So, yeah... pretty indiscriminate, when you think that a single attack could wipe out all life in a 3 or 4 city block radius, and it was used so widely.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:08 AM on November 8, 2005


Should anyone have forgotten about it, six years ago the center of Nis was sprayed with cluster bombs. (NSFW pictures and forensic reports.)

The operation was planned, decided and launched from other countries, so I can't buy the "when they're trying to kill you, anything goes" argument).

Neither can I think justify that with a targeting error ("those bombs were directed to another area"), because pilots who refused to bomb civilians were transferred elsewhere.
posted by pino.it at 5:26 AM on November 8, 2005


The fact that some, even most, of the people you might kill aren't trying to kill you doesn't enter into the equation.

that's a war crime, I hope you realize that.
posted by matteo at 5:42 AM on November 8, 2005


edverb thanks for the excellent information.

I think what it boils down to is that having parts his/her body on fire is a rather inhumane way to take out an enemy, but that from probably the brigade level downwards those who have it available to them will use it with little forethought since the weapons were made available to them in the first place. So a video like this is a good thing because it raises awareness and lets us put pressure on those (arguably above the brigade level) to stop using this sort of weapon. As for indiscriminate attacking of civilians, that's just plain illegal no matter what you use.

P.S. I watched half of the video but must have stopped right before they started using the WP as weapons, sorry if my previous statements might have seemed off base by that lapse of information.
posted by furtive at 6:29 AM on November 8, 2005


More confirmation of non-illumination use of white phosphorus during the Battle of Fallujah, this time from the Army itself, via the article "The Fight for Fallujah - TF2-2 IN FSE AAR: Indirect Fires in the Battle of Fallujah" in the March/April '05 edition of Field Artillery Magazine :

"The munitions we brought to this fight were . . . illumination
and white phosphorous (WP, M110 and M825), with point-detonating (PD), delay, time and variable-time (VT) fuzes."


"WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

This according to Captain James T. Cobb, First Lieutenant Christopher A. LaCour, and Sergeant First Class William H. Hight, the authors of the article. Their article fundamentally disagrees with the statement by the U.S. State Department on the matter.

Democracy Now is also providing the documentary, along with interviews. Easier, better streaming for those in the U.S.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:18 PM on November 8, 2005


“I can look at a sucking chest wound and eat a cup of pudding on top of red velvet cake.
Oh boy! You're such a manly man!”

- Yeah. That’s what I meant. I’m all manly is what I meant, not that I’d be more receptive to a more cogent argument against this particular engagement rather than offering the gruesome side of what has happened in many other wars. It’s all about proving how cool I am (or rather my persona with this ridiculous nickname) to anonymous strangers.


“I don't see the conflict.'
Well, somehow I doubt that. Considering how many of you guys are coming back home all fucked up. You all still have to sleep sometimes, no?
posted by c13 at 3:42 AM PST on November 8 [!]”


- Out of context much?
How is - on the one hand recognizing that troops who are given this stuff to use - however, will use it, incompatible with the larger issue of a wrongheaded policy?
The policy sucks therefore the troops should take matters into their own hands, defy the orders of the civilian government and conduct the war as they see fit? Even if it is in accordance with international law, that ain’t going to work.
Or shouldn’t the policy be changed in such a way that the strategic goals are aligned with international law?

Or did you not have a point?
Other than to knee jerk attack someone who doesn’t ascribe to the simplistic “set up the administrations words as real goals then knock down any deviations” trick?
Yes, they’re hypocrites. Yes, the war was wrongly prosecuted. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. Have agreed. Will continue to agree.
Can we move to something more substantive like how best to undo the damage Bushco has done - specifically - how this piece can help or hinder that effort?
Which I’ve expressed an opinion on. And will do further on (I don’t much care for it and feel it’s somewhat simplistic and exploitive much like the opposite side - as an example, war video games).


And no, I don’t sleep much, thanks. That should be obvious from my posts at 3:30 in the morning when I have to work the next day.
Yeah, I’m real happy about all that. I’m glad you know all about the shit in my head. Of course, you’ll be happy to cover me when I finally break, right? Or am I unworthy of humane treatment because I went off to war?
(And yes, I absolutely agree it should be the policy of our government to humanely treat prisoners, civilians, enemies, and not drop fire on them, etc.)



“The fact that some, even most, of the people you might kill aren't trying to kill you doesn't enter into the equation.
that's a war crime, I hope you realize that.
posted by matteo at 5:42 AM PST on November 8 [!]”


- So, we have to put everyone who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc. on trial?
Who do we take first, the artillerymen who fire rounds at the general area where the enemy is without making sure every non-combatant has been evacuated from the area first or the bombardiers, or the pilots who fly the bombers - what?


I suppose only the snipers would be exempt.


Or perhaps in my trying to convey they idea of suppressive fire, I didn’t express my point well enough to exclude the concept of firing indiscriminately into civilians as acceptable.
When you are firing an assault rifle, the bullets come out of the end of the gun very, very fast. When you fire one in a city or populated area it is possible to hit unintended targets, including those you might not even see, even though you have to fire because you are engaging an enemy.
This is through the very limited perspective of one infantryman. Multiply him by 10,000 and that is a lot of bullets flying around.
And those are just bullets.And innocents get killed. And no one is trying to kill them. And can be actively avoiding killing them. And can be actively trying to evacuate them. And yet they get killed anyway. And that sucks.

Hope that clarifies it.




“So a video like this is a good thing because it raises awareness and lets us put pressure on those (arguably above the brigade level) to stop using this sort of weapon.
posted by furtive at 6:29 AM PST on November 8 [!]’


I agree with everything you said except that bit.
I don’t know that those making policy care. To be fair though I can’t think off hand of how to apply pressure on them other than to raise the outrage level of civilians.
But I’m not convinced that’d work either. Watching t.v. I saw a commercial for some army game, kids high 5ing each other when they blowed stuff up good, etc.
Some of those types get off on the gruesome stuff. Quite possibly because they are so removed from it. I don’t think it’s coincidental that those policy makers who never served are the biggest hawks.
I don’t know of how to disabuse them of those notions other than to make them actually serve. But that’s a whole can of worms I’d rather not open.

Anyway, I’m not arguing against the usefulness of making such a video for information and to remind people how shitty war is, (and obviously it’s a worthwhile post) it just seems like the flip side of the coin for those folks who get off on the videogame and war by proxy.
This seems to me like people will be getting off on how committed to peace they are without the actual investment.

Present company excepted of course, I don’t know that any of you aren’t arduously working for change. (I’m in earnest here.)


But just as a general idea, I suspect many people will see it, think it’s horrible, congratulate themselves for thinking it’s horrible, and go on doing whatever they were doing before.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2005


/long post. Sorry.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:35 PM on November 8, 2005


elpapacito: "War porn" meaning images/stories meant solely to titillate the reader. See the Register and On the Media for contextual examples.
posted by johnwilcox at 1:36 PM on November 8, 2005


I'd point to insomnia_lj 's last post as something more convincing (to me anyway).
posted by Smedleyman at 1:43 PM on November 8, 2005


smedley: yeah many will do as you say, but many will not. You correctly point out that some tv and some videogames, not mentioning advanced technologies make war look like a giant videogame, with no blood and gore and misery of the human condition.

Indeed if you remember the first Gulf War there was a long road full of destroyed vehicles that become famous because the pictures were incredibly crude..but I don't remeber seeing a single piece of human body in the scene.

It wasn't human because there was no human to be recognized ..a lot of attention was paid on not shocking audience into the fundamental realization that war is about people going to meet a truculent dead or mass destruction because a bunch of criminals deceived them into believing it is a necessity, an extension of politics.

Either one sensibilizes people without desensitizing them in some creative way or send them right into a war to experiment what it really "means" in hope they will suffer greatly and decide not to ever enter war again. But even if this fantasy was possible there's always the risk that they'll win and not be the victims , innocent or not, of the effects of a war.

Showing reality in a proper way remains a good alternative option imho.
posted by elpapacito at 2:08 PM on November 8, 2005


And that sucks.

"That sucks. Hence, get your war crime on".

it's not honorable, and not acceptable, and I am afraid you realize that.

putting on trial those who win? never happened. but the firebombing of Tokyo was indeed a war crime, the planners of the slaughter did admit it. Dresden, too -- a war crime. Cambodia. Long list.

just pray that you always win, then. and learn to love the inner war criminal that inhabits way too many soldiers' (and quite a few civilian commander-in-chiefs) hearts.
posted by matteo at 3:14 PM on November 8, 2005


"Showing reality in a proper way remains a good alternative option imho.
posted by elpapacito at 2:08 PM PST on November 8 [!]"

Actually, I agree. I just wish it was on the news or some more consistent less judgmental sort of form. Telling it straight works.
I’d fully agree that the media in the US has sanitized the war.



“just pray that you always win, then. and learn to love the inner war criminal that inhabits way too many soldiers' (and quite a few civilian commander-in-chiefs) hearts.
posted by matteo at 3:14 PM PST on November 8 [!]”

I think you have an unclear picture of me. It’s the opposite. I’m opposed to violence on principle precisely because of my experience with it.

Perhaps I am more forgiving of that kind of madness men suffer in combat though. It’s the whole “handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500” thing.

I agree with your picture of restraint. I applaud your ethos. But unless you are willing to get into the war business or the prosecution of the war business your position appears to me similar to telling the garbageman that he smells.

Indeed he does. Care to shovel the shit instead?

I am not going to say - if not, than you have no voice. I am going to say - well, then you need to help figure out some better method of waste disposal. (for the slow: It’s an analogy. Humans are not waste. It’s just an analogy. An-al-o-gy.)

As strategic policy I would argue in favor of small mobile squads in low intensity engagements with larger unit support where necessary - small units by their nature would spare nearly all bystanders smart enough to run from gunfire.
I’d ask that you concede not the philosophical ground for non-violence, but it’s impracticality as an immediate policy without radical changes in how we currently operate. (Some of which I'd likely favor. The less of my brothers killed in battle, the less people they have to kill, the better.)


The war in Iraq is being prosecuted the way it is being prosecuted partly because of the stupidity (and greed, what-have-you) of the current civilian government but mostly because of their political savvy. It is how you make war in a democracy.


You do not send many body bags home. You keep the info on the war limited. You massacre (for sake of example) 10,000 of theirs - innocent or not - to save one of yours because every dead kid you send home is one more hand that might be against you in the polls. So - you authorise the more efficient, albeit more horrific, tools. Armies have been doing that since the Mongols.


I am obviously opposed to that situation. Stating that situation for what it is and my empathy for the soldiers on the ground caught in that mess is NOT the moral equivalent of supporting war crimes.
(I’d be offended if I thought I was doing a better job stating my position clearly and concisely, as it is I need a bunch of space - but to reiterate, just in case your actually reading this closely - I’m opposed to killing civilians.)

On the subject of war crimes - consider: many German soldiers died during the war. Some of them might have been good little Nazis, some perhaps hated it. Either way, they are dead. And they simply fought most of them. They weren’t SS or death camp guards, just soldiers.

The architects of the war, most of them, served relatively minor sentences and went on to be clerks or bankers or worked for the US in operation paperclip.


Don’t try to pretend to me there is any sort of justice or retribution coming for me or that your morality is any purer than mine simply because I’m a repentant sinner and you never got your hands dirty. My lessons from practical experience are no less rarefied than your ethics, certainly wanton carnage is to be avoided, I don’t see how anyone could be in favor of that, it irritates me that you think you are against it while I am not.

But the difference is I additionally understand the grunt perspective and offer understanding, not holier than thou judgment.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:08 PM on November 8, 2005


Smedleyman, I misunderstood what you said. I apologize.
posted by c13 at 4:49 PM on November 8, 2005


Smedleyman, I misunderstood what you said. I apologize.
posted by c13 at 4:49 PM PST on November 8 [!]

No problemo. I'm working on expressing myself better. I apologize for not putting it more clearly.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:23 PM on November 8, 2005


There was a recent post of articles from Infantry Journal that covered this and related topics.
posted by Chuckles at 7:39 AM on November 9, 2005


Two recent threads on this topic have been deleted: Shake 'n' Bake and Shake and Bake Missions with White Phosphorus. Lots of good information and conversation in those posts.
posted by Chuckles at 9:55 PM on November 10, 2005


The US State Department admits to the offensive use of white phosphorus in Fallujah...

Oh, and whoever keeps deleting these posts on what should be a major news issue is a frickin' weenie.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:09 AM on November 12, 2005


"I treated people who had their skin melted."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:56 PM on November 15, 2005


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