The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chemical warfare in Iraq is alive and well, thanks to the U.S. military

Dec 12, 2005

At a November 29 news conference with Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace, questions were asked about white phosphorus used in Fallujah, resulting in the death of civilians.

The New York Times has described the effects of white phosphorus on human beings: “It also rains balls of flaming chemicals, which cling to anything they touch and burn until their oxygen supply is cut off. They can burn for hours inside a human body.”

Rumsfeld let Pace deflect the question. And Pace pretended it was little more than a railroad flare: “We use white phosphorus as a marking and screening agent.” When a reporter persisted, saying that Iraqi civilians exposed to this chemical have been killed by it, Pace said only that it is a “proper material for warfare.”

“Proper” or not, the U.S. has long used such materials. During World War II, U.S. and British bombs destroyed the whole city of Dresden using such materials. At least 35,000 and maybe a hundred thousand civilians were killed in the firestorms this bombing let loose. In Viet Nam, whole stretches of populated territory were burnt up by napalm.

The Army even makes a sick joke of it. In an Army publication, the effect of white phosphorus on the Iraqi population is described as “shake and bake.”

U.S. policy makers may talk about “winning the hearts and minds of a population” – but their actions are meant to destroy that population.