Conventional weapons

US forces yesterday made their clearest admission yet that white phosphorus was used as a weapon against insurgents in Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC last night that it had been used as an incendiary weapon during the assault last year on Falluja in 2004.

— The Guardian 2005-11-16: US admits using white phosphorous in Falluja

But it’s not, technically speaking, a chemical weapon. And it doesn’t violate any international treaties. That the U.S. has ratified, anyway.

WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) — The Pentagon on Wednesday acknowledged using incendiary white-phosphorus munitions in a 2004 offensive against insurgents in the Iraqi city of Falluja and defended their use as legal, amid concerns by arms control advocates.

It’s part of our conventional-weapons inventory and we use it like we use any other conventional weapon, added Bryan Whitman, another Pentagon spokesman.

— Reuters 2005-11-16: US defends use of white phosphorus weapons in Iraq

Emphasis is mine.

Here are some legal uses of conventional weapons.

Napalm. Tokyo, 10 March 1945.

ashes and charred bodies in a desolate street

Napalm and white phosphorus. Trang Bang, Vietnam, 8 June 1972.

White phosphorus and napalm explode over the village of Trang Bang
Phan Thi Kim Phuc screams in pain after being burned by napalm in her village

White phosphorus. Fallujah, November 2004.

shower of white fire exploding over Fallujah FallujahRainingFire.jpg

a baby, dead, with severe burns a boy, dead, with skin burned black

a dead woman's hand, charred down to the bone, still clutching subha prayer beads FallujahAerialPhoto.jpg

White phosphorus firebombing of Fallujah

This is conventional aerial warfare using conventional weapons adhering to the letter of all the treaties that the goverment of the United States is a party to. This is imperial power in its fullest glory, restrained by all the civilized restraints that it deems necessary and proper for itself. This is its morality. This is its justice. This is its law.

engraving: a ghastly skeleton, robed and crowned, holds a scepter and a polished glass with the words, THE MIRROR THAT FLATTERS NOT

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