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November 22, 2005

Monbiot on WP.

Looks like this little discussion is going to run and run. One small note:

Last night the blogger Gabriele Zamparini found a declassified document from the US department of defence, dated April 1991, and titled "Possible use of phosphorus chemical".

It’s a good piece of digging but the description "blogger" seems a little mild. From Zamparini’s home page, his book launch:

              December 5th, 2005


The Cat's Dream
invites you to an evening with:

- George Galloway, MP

- Ken Loach, Film Director

- Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper's Editor

- Haifa Zangana, Novelist

for the launch of

American Voices of Dissent
the book from XXI CENTURY
a film by Gabriele Zamparini & Lorenzo Meccoli
to know more about the book click here

Perhaps activist and journalist who happens to blog might be more appropriate? With some rather unsavoury friends to boot?

Yes, I know, ad hominem and all that. But getting old Gorgeous George off the road with his one man show (which is, as we know, more important than being the only representative of his party in Parliament) to puff the book does show a certain pull in certain ideologically driven circles, does it not?

November 22, 2005 in Military | Permalink


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Another "pig's ear":
"lack of oxygen creates enormous overpressure" - I thought the explosion would have done that,
"the blast wave travels at some 3,000 metres per second" - nearly 10 times faster than the speed of sound?
if the bits I do check are wrong, what am I supposed to think about the bits I can't (be bothered to) check?

Posted by: timdifano | Nov 22, 2005 10:51:09 AM

I wonder how much they left out of that supposed Leavenworth pamphlet. I am, frankly, somewhat expert in the laws of war. Nothing forbids the use of WP on personnel, per se. You are not supposed to use it on personnel in the open because it causes unnecessary suffering, unnecessary because regular old High Explosive will do the job better, and arguably with less pain, on troops in the open (WP has less of an effective burst radius for a given shell). On troops dug in, however, where expensive Variable Time (Proximity) fuse is needed to get an airburst to clear them out, WP with cheaper Super Quick or Point Detonating fuse is perfectly acceptable, useful and legally usable.

As far as using it on civilian targets goes, it is no more illegal to deliberately target civilians with WP than with HE. Absent some military justification one is simply not supposed to do either. With a military justification, however, it becomes a question of proportionality: is the military advantage to be gained sufficient to justify the collateral damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure. This may seem heartless, and is against Additional Protocol One to Geneva Convention Four, but the US has never ratified that one and so is not bound by it. Moreover, given the peculiar nature of construction in the middle east, where little is actually flammable, the use of WP is probably more within the spirit on international humanitarian law than is HE. It is far less likely to do permanent damage to civilian buildings than is High Explosive since the buildings will not usually burn.

Posted by: Tom Kratman | Nov 22, 2005 2:00:20 PM