Monday, November 21, 2005

Why the Use of White Phosphorus (and Depleted Uranium) IS a War Crime

Now that the Pentagon has admitted that it used white phosphorous as an offensive weapon in Iraq (and not, as first claimed, solely as a flare), the U.S. is predictably arguing that it did not commit war crimes, since the U.S. did not sign Protocol III of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons ("Protocol III"). It is true that the U.S. never ratified Protocol III -- which outlaws the use of incendiary devices in war.

However, in trying to defend against war crime allegations, the U.S. may have escaped from the frying pan by jumping into the fire.

Specifically, the 1925 Geneva Protocol (which is different from Protocol III) prohibits "the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases". The U.S. has ratified the 1925 Protocol.

The 1925 Protocol is part of the Geneva Conventions. The War Crimes Act of 1996, in turn, specifically makes it a crime to commit a "grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party." See Section (c)(1) of the War Crimes Act of 1996.

The U.S. National Safety Council states that "White phosphorus is a poison . . . If its combustion occurs in a confined space, white phosphorus will remove the oxygen from the air and render the air unfit to support life . . . It is considered a dangerous disaster hazard because it emits highly toxic fumes. The EPA has listed white phosphorus as a Hazardous Air Pollutant.

Since the cloud is "asphyxiating or poisonous", then whoever ordered the white phosphorous attacks in Iraq, whether Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, 5-star generals, or lower down the chain of command, could conceivably be tried under the War Crimes Act of 1996.

The use of White phosphorus ("WP") may also be a war crime under other international treaties and domestic U.S. laws. For example, the Battle Book, published by the U.S. Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, contains the following sentence: "It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets." Indeed, it is interesting to note that the U.S. previously called white phosphorous a chemical weapon when Saddam used it against the Kurds.

Depleted Uranium

The U.S. military's bombardment of Iraq in the current war and in the first Gulf War is also likely a war crime which violates the Geneva Conventions and the War Crimes Act of 1996.

Professor Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon's depleted uranium project -- a former professor of environmental science at Jacksonville University and onetime US army colonel who was tasked by the US department of defense with the post-first Gulf war depleted uranium desert clean-up -- said use of Depleted Uranium ("DU") was a war crime.

According to a August 2002 report by the UN subcommission [on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights], laws which are breached by the use of DU shells include the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Since the use of DU violates the Geneva Conventions of 1949, it also likely violates the War Crimes Act of 1996.

The use of white phosphorous as a weapon against civilians and the use of thousands of metric tons of DU could thus probably be prosecuted as war crimes. Such actions -- especially when taken together with the numerous war crimes discussed previously -- could provide the basis for imposing life sentences or even the death penalty against the high-level U.S. officials who ordered, condoned or covered up such crimes, including those who provided the philosophical framework which allowed such crimes to occur.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it's a war crime. What a horror we've learned of this week! How can this military do these things??? NOT in my name! And any DU-Depleted Uranium usage is completely insane. In a few short years, we've gone from standing for justice and freedom to standing for torture and war crimes. We can't afford the costs in dollars, the costs in international good will, nor the costs in (gasp!) karma.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're going to be a commie-lib, at least try not to be a caricature and boring.

The only original schtick gimmick is the use of George Washington's name. It's a perversity of the man's name, but an amusing 180.

No doubt somewhere in the former Soviet Union some Russian is using Lenin's name on a site designed to make money.

If you really want to open your mind, read "Washington's Crossing," by David Hackett Fischer.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>If you're going to be a commie-lib

what a lamer you are. Communist and libelarist, they are not the same thing and don't go exist. It's sad to see how many of yankees can't take responsibility and can't understand what their goverment is doing.

Anyway, fine blog.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Brian de Ford said...

DU is the ultimate war crime. We may already have used enough to commit not just genocide in Iraq but enough to commit omnicide (the death of all life in Iraq, right down to the lowliest bacterium).

In fact, because the dust storms in Iraq blow this stuff all over the planet, we may well on the way to complete omnicide (the death of all life on earth) if we're not already past the point of no return.

I covered this in detail back in May here. It was the first blog post I made and I hoped it would be my last (I naively thought the word would spread and the whole Bush administration would immediately be put on trial for war crimes). As with many of my blog posts, it uses expletives to emphasise my utter contempt for these people. If you think seeing adult language is more offensive than learning just how disastrously insane the use of DU is, then don't read it.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

prepare to arrest these crimminals...its time for all good men to prepare to take our country back. This includes arrest of the directors of and nationalization of banking, energy, insurance and the military-industrial firms like halliburton.
Corporations should be resticted to 1,000 people.
Folks who bust unions like walmart officers should be sent to guantanemo to chill for 4 years with no trial.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When everyone concerned with the corruption in the highest levels of government to the lowest levels of government are ready to take the right action, I will accompany. Time is of essence!!

9:23 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home