White phosphorus is excellent for marking positions or obscuring them.
Capable of being packed into a huge array of munitions, WP burns on contact with air and is highly useful for smoke-screening, smoke marking, and as an anti-personnel weapon.
WP is hardly new, having been first used in the 19th Century and subsequently in both world wars, Korea, and Vietnam. Nor should it be news that it was used at Fallujah. An article in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery explicitly details the use of WP during the battle.
Yet its being treated as a major new revelation because of an Italian documentary now available on the Internet titled "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre." Its as if the use of WP necessarily involves a massacre or as if there havent been awful massacres in recent years using nothing but machetes and clubs.
Further, theres no proof of any wrongdoing in the video itself. Rather it relies on "explanations" exclusively from the narrator and other anti-war zealots.
This includes the infamous Giuliana Sgrena, the reporter for the Italian Communist Party newspaper Il Manifesto, allegedly seized by courteous kidnappers. In turn for her release they conveniently demanded what she had also been demanding, Italys withdrawal from the war. Her articles are so viciously anti-American theyd make Al Jazeera blush.
There are several accusations against our WP usage.
Those complaining about the use of white phosphorus smoke seem to have no complaints against the head-sawing terrorists the WP was used against.
Another charge is that contact with WP can cause awful and sometimes fatal burns. But painless ways of killing and destroying such as Star Treks beam weapon phasers have yet to be developed. On the other hand, the vipers we cleaned out of Fallujah were days earlier sawing off civilian heads with dull knives. Sound like a pleasant way to die?
Fact is, the soldiers weapon of choice remains high explosives. WPs best uses arent against personnel at all, but to the extent it is employed this way the most practical application is flushing the enemy out of foxholes and trenches where they can then either surrender or be killed.
Its also claimed that civilians were "targeted" with WP and the Italian video does display dead civilians. But how does this show they were the intended victims, rather than accidental casualties? Its not like when terrorists detonate bombs in crowded marketplaces or at weddings, where the intent is rather obvious.
Regardless of the weapon, how can you possibly avoid non-combatant deaths when the enemy not only hides among civilians but hides as civilians – in total violation of the Geneva Convention, for those of you keeping track.
Further, the dead civilians in the video are wearing clothing. Both the films narrator and another of those defeat-nik "experts," former Marine Jeff Englehart, try to explain this away by saying WP can burn flesh while leaving clothes intact. But true weapons experts, such as GlobalSecurity.org Director John Pike, say theres no such black magic. "If it hits your clothes it will burn your clothes," he told reporters.
As daily news reports illustrate in brilliant red Technicolor, the greatest threat to Iraqi civilians are the terrorists. If we want to save civilians, our soldiers must be free to use the best legal equipment available to kill those terrorists and to continue liberating Iraq.