November 25, 2005

WP and the SMAW-NE

The irony of the silly white-phosphorus-in-Fallujah fracas is that the Italian documentarists that started this out and all those that followed them evidently didn't know about the anti-personnel use in Fallujah of a weapon that is indisputably covered by international protocols about incendiary weapons.

The Marines' Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW), an 83mm rocket launcher, was equipped for the fight with the new thermobaric "Novel Explosive" round. The extensive use of thermobarics (improved fuel-air explosive weapons) in the Russian siege of Grozny was condemned by the international community.

Unlike WP, the SMAW-NE would undoubtedly be covered by the Geneva protocol on Certain Conventional Weapons, which prohibits their air-launched or indiscriminate use in civilian areas. Also, unlike WP, thermobarics are considerably more destructive than a high-explosive round of the same size would be.

There's been no specific incident reported where this weapon was used indiscriminately in Fallujah. My only point here is that, unlike WP, it would be a clear violation of internationally accepted laws of war if they were.

Adding irony to irony, the Russian Parliament, whose country was condemned for using thermobarics to level Grozny, and recently used an undisputed chemical weapon (fentanyl) to "solve" the Moscow theatre standoff, has condemned the relatively innocuous American use of WP in Fallujah.

ASIDE: Just noticed in the article that started all this that the Fallujah attackers had no other kind of artillery smoke round available to them other than WP (see p. 26), for any of their indirect fire systems. I'm curious why that would be the case... supply difficulties?

Posted by BruceR at 10:50 AM

Theories on Emmanuel Zarq-stein

Of course, Josh Marshall and Mark Steyn could both be right. The Big Z could be an overhyped figure who is now on the run and at the end of his rope, and whose death/disappearance will have no measurable impact on the level of violence in Iraq.

Posted by BruceR at 10:18 AM