Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,
Insomnia
insomnia

Iraqi insurgents start using chemical weapons... just like the U.S.

The U.S. military announced that Iraqi insurgents have used a second bomb in two days using chlorine gas, and are concerned that insurgents are broadening their range of weaponry to include crude chemical weapons.

A police source put the death toll from the bomb in Baghdad at three with 35 more hospitalized. An Interior Ministry source said six were killed and 73 wounded, including many sickened by a gas thought to be chlorine.

But as much as I would like to say how dangerous and regrettable this is, it's nothing all that unpredictable.

Elisa D. Harris, who developed chemical weapons policy during the Clinton Administration, had previously warned that U.S. use of chemical agents in Iraq  not only were in banned from use as a method of warfare, but also that the signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention, she said, had barred such agents in war because their deployment might escalate to the use of lethal chemicals. She further pointed out that in four major uses of chemical weapons in the past — by the combatants in World War I; by the Italians in Ethiopia; by the Egyptians in Yemen; and in the Iran-Iraq war — deployment of chemical weapons was preceded by use of "nonlethal agents".

Indeed, Donald Rumsfeld fought for a special presidential decree to use supposedly non-lethal agents in Iraq, but failed to note that when you use those agents as a way of driving people out of cover so that they can be killed, such as was done with the "shake and bake" WP attacks in Fallujah, you violate international restrictions about using such chemicals as weapons. Rumsfeld's claims that a presidential decree could somehow change this fact is intentionally misleading and patently false. Indeed, the Federation of American Scientists determined that the military use of such chemicals could be lethal nearly 10% of the time, rivaling the lethality of other conventional munitions if used offensively.

An entry in a 1999 publication of the US Army Command & General Staff College states without qualification: “It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.” But that is exactly what the U.S. did in Fallujah, which was inhabited by tens of thousands of civilians during the 2004 assault, a fact known by U.S. commanders on the ground. An estimated 60,000 civilians, overwhelmingly women, children and old men, fled the city in a single day during a cease-fire that followed the WP attacks. In comparison, U.S. military sources estimated the number of insurgents inside Fallujah at that time as between 2,000 and 3,000, a ratio of one insurgent for every twenty civilians, at best. 

Embedded reporters also reported seeing hundreds of civilians trying to flee the city before the cease-fire was signed. Some were allowed to leave, but men were tested for explosive residue and then sent back into Fallujah, even when they passed these tests. In several cases, U.S. troops forceably separated Iraqi families, many of whom never saw their loved ones again. 

But is white phosphorus a chemical weapon? It clearly is, when our enemies are using it.

A formerly classified Pentagon report stated:

"IRAQ HAS POSSIBLY EMPLOYED PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST THE KURDISH POPULATION IN AREAS ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN BORDERS. . . IRAQ'S POSSIBLE EMPLOYMENT OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL WEAPONS -- IN LATE FEBRUARY 1991, FOLLOWING THE COALITION FORCES' OVERWHELMING VICTORY OVER IRAQ, KURDISH REBELS STEPPED UP THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST IRAQI FORCES IN NORTHERN IRAQ. DURING THE BRUTAL CRACKDOWN THAT FOLLOWED THE KURDISH UPRISING, IRAQI FORCES LOYAL TO PRESIDENT SADDAM ((HUSSEIN)) MAY HAVE POSSIBLY USED WHITE PHOSPHOROUS (WP) CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST KURDISH REBELS AND THE POPULACE IN ERBIL AND DOHUK. THE WP CHEMICAL WAS DELIVERED BY ARTILLERY ROUNDS AND HELICOPTER GUNSHIPS. . . AS A RESULT, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF KURDS FLED FROM THESE TWO AREAS. . ."

And no, it's not just the Iraqis we've accused of using WP as a chemical weapon before. We've also accused the Serbs of using it against the Bosnians too, referring to it as a possible war crime.

And, of course, U.S. forces indiscriminately used WP against Iraqi civilians, causing tens of thousands to flee... just like Saddam did. 

So, if you're angry that Rumsfeld pissed all over the law to legalize authorize acts of torture and abuse that disgraced our nation and led to escalation and brutal reprisals, shouldn't you perhaps be angry that he also pissed all over the law to allow the use of chemical substances as indiscriminate weapons against Iraqis, and shouldn't you be offended that his actions once more disgraced our nation and led to an escalation and to horrible acts of retaliation?

Chlorine gas? Reap the wind, indeed.

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