Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Melting Skin Off of Children - a Complex, Difficult Issue?

Some right-wing bloggers are furious, simply furious, I say, about the reports that the Bush administration has used chemical weapons in Iraq. My blog friend Anti-Media, for example, fulminates:
There's a breaking story....
....that the US used chemical weapons in Fallujah. Don't believe it. It's false. The story is stupid. The use of white phosphorus is legal.

The story is not even news.
Hunter, over at the indispensable Daily Kos, falls in line with Anti-Media, urging the lefty blogosphere to step back from these revelations. After all, the bombs were incendiary, and perhaps not chemical (though made of chemicals), and there's no proof that the United States necessarily signed the treaties that would have made such behavior illegal, so it may well be that it is totally legal for us to burn the skin off of children with incendiary bombs. As the right-wing bloggers are screeching, this story is stupid. We're well within our rights to melt the skin off of children.

But, still, some of us do have a few, minor, niggling policy concerns regarding potential policy reasons we should not do it:
# First, because the insurgency will inevitably be hardened by tales of American forces melting the skin off of children.

# Second, because the civilian population will harbor considerable resentment towards Americans for melting the skin off of their children.

Clarification: As pointed out in the comments, the exact effect of white phosphorous on the skin of children is the subject of some controversy as well. It is possible that it does not "melt" the skin off of children, but, instead, may scorch or oxydize or burn it off. This distinction makes a huge difference to some people, for some reason.


Blogger antimedia said...

Dan, I assume you're referring to this statement in the article.

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for."

This statement was made by Specialist Englehart, who admitted in an interview that he was never in Fallujah, so he could not possibly have seen the bodies he claims to have seen. In fact, his entire story is third-hand, unverified information.

Furthermore, phosphorous does not kill everyone within 150 metres. Our troops use the clouds of smoke as cover. Do you really think they'd run into it if it killed them?

The guy is lying through his teeth, and you know that, because you've read my reporting on the story.

I'm not impressed by your willingness to score cheap political points from lies. In fact, it bothers me a great deal, since you are constantly insisting that you're not one of "those" liberals that I keep complaining about.

11/09/2005 10:43 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

AM - Sorry if I disappointed you, but I've learned that the sources you cite are frequently biased and occasionally mistaken, as are the sources on Kos. So, okay then, WP may or may not melt the skin off kids. If it doesn't, what term would you prefer? Chars it off? Scorches it off? Tickles it off? Gently persuades the skin to depart?

11/10/2005 6:18 AM  
Blogger George said...

"The story is not even news."

These are not the droids you're looking for.

11/10/2005 7:04 AM  
Blogger antimedia said...

Dan, your implication is that the US military is deliberately killing children with WP. That's precisely what the liars who wrote the story and the documentary want you to think.

Yet there's not one shred of evidence that the people they show in the film died from WP. There's been no forensics done. No scientifica analysis. They simply took the word of one soldier, who wasn't even there, and assumed the rest.

If that's how you want to interpret news, then you will always see things through your partisan lens. That's disappointing to me, because I actually thought you were open-minded enough to consider all the angles of a story.

With regard to this story, what sources do you think I cited that were biased or mistaken? I've linked to international treaties, scientific descriptions of WP, the original story, a transcript of an interview, etc., etc. I've given you a wealth of information with which to form an informed opinion about this story.

Yet you can away with "they're melting the skin of children!!!"

11/10/2005 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me again.

"The insurgency will be hardened . . ." Please. This is an "insurgency" (that's a nice way to say terrorist) that TARGETS children! How much more can they be hardened?

. . . civilian population resents "melting the skin off their children." It's pretty clear the original source didn't know what the hell he was talking about. You say otherwise? Prove it. A lying source's hearsay is meaningless.

The story makes a good stick to pummel those you disagree with. But facts gotta come in somewhere, don't you think? But then, never let the facts get in the way of good hyperbole.

11/10/2005 9:35 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

If you saw an implication that the military intentionally killed children, you're reading it with your own filters on, because that never was my intention.

What do we know here? There was a massive bombardment of Fallujah, there are horribly burnt kids, there is a US military acknowledging it used WP there.

I am open-minded on this. I have no personal knowledge of what happened in Fallujah - I've never been there. That's kind of the point here, though - kids were horribly burnt, and that's a bad thing. I don't care whether they were burnt by WP or something else. I don't care whether the reporter was the first to report it. I don't care whether WP is technically legal when used in some ways, or technically illegal when used in others. The response of the right wing bloggers, yourself included, has totally ignored the burnt kids, and totally focused on excusing and justifying and criticizing the sources.

Anonymous - you're being ignored.

11/10/2005 1:41 PM  
Blogger antimedia said...

Dan, for God's sake, you know no such thing. "What do we know here? There was a massive bombardment of Fallujah, there are horribly burnt kids, there is a US military acknowledging it used WP there."

No, there was no massive bombardment. That is false. Both HE and WP rounds were used in Fallujah, both for smoke and for intimidation of terrorists. There is no evidence of "horribly burnt" kids. The American "soldier" who is used in the documentary never saw anything. He wasn't there. Furthermore his "knowledge" of WP is so stupid it takes less than five minutes of googling to refute him.

The documentary also uses the execrable Italian communist reporter Guiliana Serena, the same one who lied about being fired upon by American troops while speeding to the airport.

My God, man, do you hate Bush that much that you willing slander American troops to "prove" Bush is evil?

I thought you were a reasonable person. I was wrong.

11/10/2005 11:26 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

AM -

There was no massive bombardment of Fallujah?? Now, that's news. Here, how about if I quote from one of your sources: "Some of the heaviest damage apparently was incurred Monday night by air and artillery attacks that coincided with the entry of ground troops into the city. U.S. warplanes dropped eight 2,000-pound bombs on the city overnight, and artillery boomed throughout the night and into the morning.

"Usually we keep the gloves on," said Army Capt. Erik Krivda, of Gaithersburg, Md., the senior officer in charge of the 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2 tactical operations command center. "For this operation, we took the gloves off."

Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns.

Kamal Hadeethi, a physician at a regional hospital, said, "The corpses of the mujahedeen which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted."

Satisfied? And you are the one who is willfully lying if you are claiming that there were only terrorists in Fallujah. You know that's not true, don't you?

And your silly attempt to accuse me of slandering our troops is just not going to fly. It's not true. They're there doing a tough job under horrible conditions, all because of a horrible president. I don't blame them for using WP or anything else they think will be effective. If my son or daughter were there, I'd be encouraging it.

11/10/2005 11:39 PM  
Blogger reverse_vampyr said...

Maybe you're not slandering our troops, but you're quoting Hunter, and he's definitely slandering the troops.

And just because a munition is made with chemicals does not make it automatically a chemical weapon. Rifle and pistol bullets use chemicals known as gunpowder. They're not chemical weapons.

11/12/2005 12:37 AM  

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