Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chapter & Verse

Thanks to Adam Short for providing the Geneva Conventions link regarding chemical weapons. Adam is concerned that the White Phosphorus reports were being minimized or dismissed by too many journalists. So, for our collective edification, behold Protocol III, Article 2:
"Protocol III - Geneva Conventions
...
Article 2.
...
2. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons."

Ergo, "shake & bake" (White Phosphorus followed by high explosives) is not allowed. Ditto for Napalm-like MK-77. Forget all of the parsing you may have seen/heard about WP's usefulness as a "target marker." Something tells me that the grunts on the ground wouldn't call it "shake & bake" if they were just marking-the-spot (as it were). Now, having said that, William Arkin at WaPo makes an interesting point:
I've never read an article that says that a 2,000 lb. laser-guided bomb -- or a bullet for that matter -- is "illegal." [...] To suggest that white phosphorus is illegal or illegitimate suggests that you are willing to accept that some use of military force and some weapons are perfectly legal.
Alright. Fair enough. But consider the disgusting irony of US forces employing chemical weapons against a nation that they attacked for ostensibly hording chemical weapons.

And while we're at the business of quoting International law, what about the more routine (for lack of a better term) use of collective punishment?

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

Aside from heavy bombing and regular house- to- house raids, the occupying forces have been caught exacting incredibly damaging reprisals from whole neighbourhoods (e.g. al Dora) and cities (Fallujah). This past January, Dahr Jamail reported that the Americans were cutting electricity, destroying farm equipment, and bulldozing date groves in al Dora (a rural area, outside of Baghdad)--all in "retaliation" for insurgent attacks. In the words of U.S. Army Brigadier-General Mark Kimmit:
...the military had launched 'Operation Iron Grip' to send "a very clear message to anybody who thinks that they can run around Baghdad without worrying about the consequences of firing RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), firing mortars."
Just for completeness' sake: here is Article 33 of Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949:
"Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons #Section I : Provisions common to the territories of the parties to the conflict and to occupied territories
ARTICLE 33: No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited."

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