What Is White Phosphorous, and How Is It Used?

Since this seems to be the Left’s controversy of the day, and not go away immediately. Let’s look into how white phosphorous is used.

A soldier explains white phosphorous, and why it’s just the latest manufactured controversy du jour by the Left in their war of attrition against the military and the war. Ralph Peters and Mark Steyn were right.

hat tip

They are going to ignore you on this.

Or switch to an equally futile argument.

[quote=gilliam]Since this seems to be the Left’s controversy of the day,
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Yeah, the left eh? And the right are fine with it being used as a weapon in ‘shake & bake’ missions??

[quote=FightingFat]Yeah, the left eh? And the right are fine with it being used as a weapon in ‘shake & bake’ missions??
[/quote]

Not only the right, but the entire military is fine with it. Also, other governments are fine with it since there is no ban on it.

A spokesman at the UK Ministry of Defence said the use of white phosphorus was permitted in battle in cases where there were no civilians near the target area.

But Professor Paul Rodgers of the University of Bradford department of peace studies said white phosphorus could be considered a chemical weapon if deliberately aimed at civilians. He told PM: “It is not counted under the chemical weapons convention in its normal use but, although it is a matter of legal niceties, it probably does fall into the category of chemical weapons if it is used for this kind of purpose directly against people.”

But it has no physical effect. You don’t convulse, it isn’t an irritant making you vomit. Like the other thread, it can’t be counted under chemical warfare because it would be involving fire and smoke.

Insurgents are not civilians.

What international document is it in violation of? None.

So, I suppose that you think the use of tear gas as crowd control must also be illegal.

Can you kill people with it?

If it is no big deal anyway, how come it was denied initially?

[quote=FightingFat]Can you kill people with it?

If it is no big deal anyway, how come it was denied initially?
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You can kill people with tear gas. If they get a high dose of it, you have to make sure they don’t curl up into a ball on the ground while coughing and hacking. They can die from asphyxiation.

The initial charge was that it was being used as chemical warfare:

On 10 November last year, the Islam Online website wrote: “US troops are reportedly using chemical weapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensive on the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grim reminder of Saddam Hussein’s alleged gassing of the Kurds in 1988.” The website quoted insurgent sources as saying: “The US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally banned chemical weapons.”

Coming from this initial link:

commondreams.org/headlines05/1108-01.htm

They are making assumptions that the smoke is a chemical agent, then producing dead bodies from other sources and saying the deaths are the result of chemical warfare.

Well, I didn’t want to post on the thread that was started by that link, I started a new thread with the news sources from the BBC, The Gaurdian and The Independant, but a mod merged my thread with that one.

And they are all implying it is a chemical agent, comparable to the ones used by Saddam during his reign.

One of your sources was Al-Jazeera, which is about as credible as the National Enquirer (tabloid, in case you are not familiar).

[quote=mjdonnelly]And they are all implying it is a chemical agent, comparable to the ones used by Saddam during his reign.
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I say again, you might be able to differentiate between these weapons and those used by Saddam, but I bet few Muslims will bother.

Italian television aired a documentary yesterday alleging that the United States had used white phosphorus shells ''in a massive and indiscriminate way" against civilians in the November 2004 offensive in the Iraqi town of Fallujah.

The US military has denied that it used white phosphorus against civilians. It confirmed, however, that US forces had dropped MK 77 firebombs, which a documentary on Italian state-run broadcaster RAI compared to napalm, against military targets in Iraq in March and April 2003.

The documentary showed images of bodies recovered after a November 2004 offensive by US troops on Fallujah, which it said proved the use of white phosphorus against men, women, and children who were burned to the bone.

boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2005/11/09/us_fired_phosphorus_in_iraq_tv_reports/

San Diego journalist Darrin Mortenson, who was embedded with US marines during the assault on Falluja, told the BBC’s Today radio programme he had seen white phosphorous used “as an incendiary weapon”.

a defence website, says: “Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful… These weapons are particularly nasty because white phosphorus continues to burn until it disappears… it could burn right down to the bone.”

A spokesman at the UK Ministry of Defence said the use of white phosphorus was permitted in battle in cases where there were no civilians near the target area.

But Professor Paul Rogers, of the University of Bradford’s department of peace studies, said white phosphorus could be considered a chemical weapon if deliberately aimed at civilians. He told PM: “It is not counted under the chemical weapons convention in its normal use but, although it is a matter of legal niceties, it probably does fall into the category of chemical weapons if it is used for this kind of purpose directly against people.”

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4440664.stm

In context- I cited Al-Jazeera as an opportunity to observe how the Muslim world was protraying this thing because perception is very important wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps you need to read that post again?
In any case I disagree with your appraisal of Al-Jazeera. I know that it disagrees with your point of view, but it has been widely praised by the international journalistic community and provides a window for us onto the Arab world. One that we would do well to look through occasionally. What have you to fear???

[quote=FightingFat]I say again, you might be able to differentiate between these weapons and those used by Saddam, but I bet few Muslims will bother.

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So you are admitting it is not a chemical agent. It doesn’t matter that the insurgents upon whom it was used can differentiate. Either it is, or it isn’t. Conclusive evidence has been provided that it is not a chemical agent.

Even the definition from the dictionary that has been thrown around:

chemical substances that can be delivered using munitions and dispersal devices to cause death or severe harm to people and animals and plants

Smoke canisters will not cause any of that unless you go and try to pick it up. And, it is not being delivered to cause injury, it is being used to cause fear.

[quote=mjdonnelly]So you are admitting it is not a chemical agent.
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No. I think it is obvious from what I have read that it IS a chemical weapon, but that YOU choose not to define as such. I think the international concensus is that it is NOT a chemical weapon insofaras it is used only as device for illumination, and that if it is used in an offensive manner it DOES constitute a chemical weapon. I think this is important because it has been denied and then leaked through an internal military magazine where two military personel present at battles using this agent as a weapon to burn and kill people wrote about their experiences. This demonstrates clearly that despite their current machinations to the contrary, the administration evidently feel that the use of this ‘agent’ does constitue chemical warfare.

[quote=mjdonnelly]It doesn’t matter that the insurgents upon whom it was used can differentiate. Either it is, or it isn’t. Conclusive evidence has been provided that it is not a chemical agent.
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Well I disagree. (Sorry).

  1. It is a chemical that has been used as a weapon.
  2. It does matter what people think about the war and how we wage it. This is how we are judged by others. (This has been referred to as the battle for hearts and minds).

[quote=FightingFat]No. I think it is obvious from what I have read that it IS a chemical weapon, but that YOU choose not to define as such. I think the international concensus is that it is NOT a chemical weapon insofaras it is used only as device for illumination, and that if it is used in an offensive manner it DOES constitute a chemical weapon. I think this is important because it has been denied and then leaked through an internal military magazine where two military personel present at battles using this agent as a weapon to burn and kill people wrote about their experiences. This demonstrates clearly that despite their current machinations to the contrary, the administration evidently feel that the use of this ‘agent’ does constitue chemical warfare.

Well I disagree. (Sorry).

  1. It is a chemical that has been used as a weapon.
  2. It does matter what people think about the war and how we wage it. This is how we are judged by others. (This has been referred to as the battle for hearts and minds).
    [/quote]

The sources saying it has killed people are ignorant and are staging the event. The definition YOU qouted was the one I used in the last post. The phosphorus being used against people is not the illumination type, it is the smoke generation type which is significantly different.

And, trinirtotoluene is also a chemical. Is it therefore a chemical weapon?

But facts do not concern you then, you need to rely on speculation, conjecture, and misinformation to make an argument.

There is going to be an investigation now in any case

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4442156.stm

As you can see from this article-

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt Col Barry Venable, confirmed to the BBC the US had used white phosphorus “as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants” - though not against civilians, he said.

He said earlier denials had been based on “poor information”.

**Washington is not a signatory to an international treaty restricting the use of the substance against civilians. **

The UK Ministry of Defence said its use was permitted in battle in cases where there were no civilians near the target area.

But Professor Paul Rogers, of the University of Bradford’s department of peace studies, said white phosphorus could be considered a chemical weapon if deliberately aimed at civilians.

Now I would say that Professor Rogers is better qualified in these matters that either you or I are and so I will accept his assessment. If you choose not to that is your perogative. I merely state that their is attrocity on both sides of this conflict and it is not good or Christian. Fight if you will- but do not dare draw God into your conflict.

I’m missing something here. Are you saying that it was not used as a weapon then? That it wasn’t used to burn and kill people??

Please forgive me if I appear to misunderstand, the facts do sincerely interest me and if I am in the wrong I do beg your forgiveness. Yet I have read much that has been written by some very highly respected journalists here who would claim to be objective in their reporting (obviously you make your own mind up about that) and they all seem to concur.

White phosphorus (WP) flares were not used against people, contrary to what those respected journalists are claiming, since that is the type of injuries they are describing as burning through to the bone. This type is illegal to use against a person, military or civilian, by shooting it at them due to the fact that it is a horiffic death that comes slowly.

WP smoke was used, the smoke does not burn, does not cause injury, again contrary to what those journalists are claiming. This type is not illegal to use against people and is only a mild irritant at most. (unless some idiot puts his face against the burning shell).

The man in the photo did not die from exposure to WP smoke, or from being hit with a WP flare. If it were truly from a flare, then why did they omit the most incriminating evidence of the picture, being the gaping hole in his body? The claims are then false since the injuries do not match what actual injuries would be.

Please explain your previous posts which type was being referred to.

If someone did use the WP flare against someone by shooting it at their body, they should go to prison, that is, if they are not already dead.

I never mentiond drawing God into the conflict, that is something Muslims do.

[quote=mjdonnelly]I never mentiond drawing God into the conflict, that is something Muslims do.
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…and your President. news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2921345.stm

[quote=mjdonnelly]White phosphorus (WP) flares were not used against people, contrary to what those respected journalists are claiming, since that is the type of injuries they are describing as burning through to the bone. This type is illegal to use against a person, military or civilian, by shooting it at them due to the fact that it is a horiffic death that comes slowly.
[/quote]

OK, great, now we are getting somewhere. So, are you saying then that this-

In a comprehensive written account of the military operation at Fallujah, three US soldiers who participated said WP shells were used against insurgents taking cover in trenches. Writing in the March-April edition of Field Artillery, the magazine of the US Field Artillery based in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which is readily available on the internet, the three artillery men said: “WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions … and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against insurgents in trench lines and spider holes … We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents using WP to flush them out and high explosive shells (HE) to take them out.”

Another first-hand account from the battlefield was provided by an embedded reporter for the North County News, a San Diego newspaper. Reporter Darrin Mortenson wrote of watching Cpl Nicholas Bogert fire WP rounds into Fallujah. He wrote: “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.”

Mr Mortenson also watched the mortar team fire into a group of buildings where insurgents were known to be hiding. In an email, he confirmed: “During the fight I was describing in my article, WP mortar rounds were used to create a fire in a palm grove and a cluster of concrete buildings that were used as cover by Iraqi snipers and teams that fired heavy machine guns at US choppers.” Another report, published in the Washington Post, gave an idea of the sorts of injuries that WP causes. It said insurgents “reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns”. A physician at a local hospital said the corpses of insurgents “were burned, and some corpses were melted”.

The use of incendiary weapons such as WP and napalm against civilian targets - though not military targets - is banned by international treaty. Article two, protocol III of the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons states: “It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects, the object of attack by incendiary weapons.” Some have claimed the use of WP contravenes the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention which bans the use of any “toxic chemical” weapons which causes “death, harm or temporary incapacitation to humans or animals through their chemical action on life processes”.

Is a lie???

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