November 11, 2005

Words in Vain 

The main reason I do not like to write about the alleged war crimes committed during the Battle of Fallujah (and Abu Grahib before) is that discussing these episodes is largely an exercise in futility, not a constructive, productive discussion.

Most of the anti-war types have already taken - a priori, almost axiomatically, the position that the War Against Radical Islam should have never been fought in the first place. Their motivations may vary: some think that fighting is always wrong no matter what; others think that we should understand the "why they hate us"; finally, certain are just anti-American and think that America should take all the clubbing and never fight back.

Whatever the reason, all of them do not want to engage in an earnest discussion about what happened in that particular case, and how this war can and should be fought. No, what they do is using those allegations as the latest set of excuses to reinforce their positions.

The telltale sign is that pacifists & co. never accept to eventually lose a rethorical argument, but instead they move goalposts and use the whole arsenal of intellectual dishonesty. Indeed, the notorius RaiNews documentary does a rather poor job of demonstrating that "chemical weapons" have been used in Fallujah, but it does not matter, because it must be true.

The idea that an incendiary burning at high temperature can "melt" skin but leave clothes intact is patently absurd? It does not matter; Americans are bad.

The corpses shown in the documentary do not bear much signs of thermal damage (rather, spontaneous decomposition in a warm and dry climate)? It does not matter; Americans are bad.

WP and napalm are not classified as chemical weapons (the use of napalm is restricted by the Geneva Convention, tho)? It does not matter; Americans are bad.

How are field commanders supposed to defeat dug-in ruthless, fanatical warriors without sending their own men to suicide missions? We do not care; Americans are bad.

This is a war, not a peace & love party. Some brutality is inevitable. The war was based on false premises; Americans are bad.

It's terrible, but collateral damage cannot be avoided - however, the US military is doing its best to minimize it. Think about the children; Americans are bad.

This is the general tone of the discussions on the subject I've seen up to now. I've even seen a desperate p-idealist* telling me that she "refutes the principle of force". And so what? In the real world force is effective, no matter what your opinion in regard is. And imagining a world without the use of force will not change the reality.

And I really had enough of this crap. If comments of that tone will eventually pop up here, I'll soon go nuclear on them.

For a pragmatist like me, the whole discussion about war is based on entirely different axioms. In this case, 9/11 made painfully clear that Islamism is a threat to the West that cannot be ignored. In the long term, the solution to this problem is memetic (they have to change their minds, in short), but in the short run the less worse of an array of bad solutions is to bring war to them before they can bring war to us. Once you're committed to war, the first and foremost obligation is to win it. I still think that this is no reason to happily slaughter and brutalize any Arab or Muslim in sight, but the eventuality of civilian casualties is not reason enough to restrain from the use of military force.

To produce zero collateral damage, we'd have to use absolutely suicidal and ineffective tacticts - at that point, it'd be better not to fight at all (and this is the pacifists' objective).
In a sense I think that we Westerners should be held to a somewhat higher standard that the jihadis. But many critics of OIF hold the Coalition to absurdly high standards - while the jihadis are hold to standards Our Sanctimoniouses wouldn't tolerate in a guard dog.

The use of napalm and WP as an incendiary on dug-in enemy combatants is legitimate by all international treaties, and is also perfectly moral for me. But FAE munitions are somewhat more cool.

In passing, I'll say that I disagree vehemently also with those religous folks who think that Muslims can and should be exterminated because they are evil, given that they worship a different god.

Update 12/11: QandO has more analysis of the WP incident, and Tigerhawk writes at length on the anti-war crowd.

*P-idealism is thus defined: "One of the ways in which this all ultimately manifested was in the basic philosophy of idealism, which posits that the mind is the essential and central force in the universe. There are various ways this plays out; one extreme form is a kind of limited solipsism which says that reality is in fact whatever we believe it to be, and that there is no actual "objective" reality. But in less extreme forms, this still places the mind at the center of the stage."


Hi, first of all, sorry for the anonymous comment, I'm new to this sort of things and I don't have a blog.

I agree with your post, but I've found an objection rarely addressed by the people who claim the report to be unaccurate and false (the fact that is heavily biased and it has an agenda is, I think, undeniable).

You and other bloggers claim that it is impossible that WP can burn without damaging clothes...but, I've read that its exalation and fumes are corrosive. I think THAT is what the guys in the reportage (which is inaccurate in terminology, as stated by pretty much anyone) mean when they talk about "chemical" weapons.
They are telling that the "shake and bake" was performed on a populated (?) city and the fumes made a lot of civilians die. Did they do on purpose? Were all of these persons terrorists? That's where ideology kicks in.

My doubt is: are you sure that Wellington and a rushed comment quoted on Daily Ablution are more solid ("no way, that was NOT wp") than the opinions that the authors of the reportage claim to have gathered? Their site says that they talked with army doctors and such...are they liars??

Sorry for the bad writing, not every fellow italian knows english like you do...I can re-write in Italian if it gets too cryptical at times! :D


Phosphorous fumes are listed by all sources I consulted (including chemistry manuals) as irritant, not toxic or corrosive. Now, it is conceivable that exposition to high concentrations of these fumes can be fatal - but this is a very speculative field.

That civilians died during the Battle of Fallujah is out of question. However, one side claims that those were regrettable but inavoidable casualties of collateral damage; the other instead claims that it was the consequence of callous carelessness, if not homicidal intent, from the American forces.

All the evidence I have seen up to now strongly corroborate the first hypothesis.


Two antithetic positions. It was WP, it was not. The solution is very simple. Let an international organism,like Int. Tribunal for War Crimes, the same used for former Yugoslavia and Burundi genocide, to resume the corpses, analize them and then the truth will be unequivocal.
If it was not WP, americans can shut down mouths of critics, if it was usaed and involved civilians we have to state if it's legal or to blame.
I apologize for my poor english


Barba my real-life friend?

However, I don't really trust international tribunals of any sort. Firts of all, I don't think international law is really meaningful. Second, the tribunal for the Yugoslavian crimes has been little more than a farce.

Also, WP is not a banned weapon - except in some pretty contorted interpretations of the relevant treaties. Ultimately, going to such lengths to ascertain whether it was a war crim or not seems rather a waste of resources.


Dear Fabio, i do not kow you in the real-life.
Unfortunately i have an other pont of view about war crimes and the necessity to ascertain them. This in not just the truth but my opinion. I like america. I grew on the notes of a song saiyng "i dream California and a day i will come", i remember my relatives had a chance of better living in the USA, i remember the efforts USA made for free us of nazifascism ed the monetary help too.
Due to this, i hope actual administration do not let USA to slip from civilization home to barbarism.
I hope i'm wrong because i like america.
I apologize for my poor english

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