|There's some good reading over at Balloon Juice regarding the WP and the mistreating of civilians/prisoners etc. Here's an excerpt.|
The United States’ most senior general has defended the use of weapons containing white phosphorus in Iraq. General Peter Pace said that such munitions were a legitimate tool of the military, used to illuminate targets and create smokescreens.
Two weeks ago, the US admitted using it to flush out insurgents in Falluja last year raising concerns that it might have hit civilians.
Gen Pace said no military went to greater lengths to avoid civilian casualties than the US army.
He said white phosphorus, a chemical that burns on exposure to oxygen, producing a bright light and lots of white smoke, was used primarily to illuminate a battlefield or to hide troop movements.
It is not a chemical weapon. It is an incendiary. And it is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they’re being used, for marking and for screening, he said.
If it comes into contact with human skin, white phosphorus can ignite and burn down to the bone if it is not exhausted or extinguished.
An Italian TV channel has reported that the US used white phosphorus against civilians in Falluja, and showed pictures of burned bodies.
The US has denied this.
A bullet goes through skin even faster than white phosphorus does, Gen Pace said.
So I would rather have the proper instrument applied at the proper time, as precisely as possible, to get the job done, in a way that kills as many of the bad guys as possible and does as little collateral damage as possible.
That is just the nature of warfare.
When UPIs Pam Hess asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld replied that obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility other than to voice disapproval.
But [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace] had a different view. It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it, the general said.
Rumsfeld interjected: I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.
But Pace meant what he said. If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it, he said, firmly.
General Pace is correct. Soldiers know what they are supposed to do. It’s a big part of the Army Values., two of which are Personal Courage and Integrity. You are expected to disobey an unlawful order, even if it will cause you hardship, even if it may be difficult and unpopular. We have rules, if you see something wrong you do something about it.
As far as the WP goes, we shouldn’t be indiscriminately attacking civilians anyway, so the WP is a moot point in this case. The issue is… are we attacking civilians or not? I believe we are not. Not deliberately for sure.
We are trained not to wage war on civilians. As a leader, I am expected to train my subordinates that this is not the correct course of action. I don’t want to get into the collateral damage thing, but sometime civilians are in the crossfire so to speak. It will always be this way, especially with the jerks we are fighting now. They set up their operations among civilians. We make every reasonable effort not to hurt innocent people.
If you don't get it... Learn about Jus in Bello. This (and more about morality in war) is taught in the US Army at many levels.
As a side note... that link was only in regards to the Jus In Bello and I don't know much about the organization that runs the site. I didn't have time to check them out. I do feel the article gives a pretty good overview of the subject though.
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