It was a year ago. Fallujah had become a battleground, many — but by no means all — residents had left; a substantial number were cowering in their homes or other buildings. The fighters opposing the US were mounting a stiff resistance.
It appears that the US has admitted that faced with this situation, it used white phosphorus. “We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.” If, as appears to be the case, they were used in artillery rounds, this spreads the stuff over a wide area. It lands on the skin of everyone within range. And it’s now alleged that children in the area had their skin melted/burned off.
See Daily Kos: Melting the Skin Off of Children [GRAPHIC] for details. Like the commentator at Daily Kos says, the US obviously doesn’t consider melting the skin off children to be a military or political goal; the problem is that the US failed to make NOT melting the skin off children and other civilians a greater priority.
If George Bush is going to continue his policy of sending troops into hostile urban areas, it is almost inevitable that the troops will either suffer more casualties, or kill/maim more civilians (or fail in their mission). Take away an effecitve weapon because it is so horrible in its effects on civilians — and there are times when one must — you risk getting more troops shot. These are stark choices, tragic choices — and thus yet again call into further question the wisdom of the entire enterprise.
And what are the conditions in Fallujah today? Were they improved by the US military foray? Was all that sacrifice — civilian and military — of any value? Did it even rise to the level of a ‘famous victory’?
By R. Southey
IT was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar’s work was done,
And he before his cottage dome
Was sitting in the sun;
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,
Which he beside the rivulet
In playing there had found:
He came to ask what he had found
That was so large and smooth and round.
Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
And with a natural sigh
“‘Tis some poor fellow’s skull,” said he,
“Who fell in the great victory.
“I find them in the garden,
For there’s many here about;
And often when I go to plough
The ploughshare turns them out.
For many thousand men,” said he,
“Were slain in that great victory.”
“Now tell us what ’twas all about,”
Young Peterkin he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes;
“Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for.”
“It was the English,” Kaspar cried,
“Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other
I could not well make out.
But everybody said,” quoth he,
“That ’twas a famous victory.
“My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
And he was forced to fly:
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.
“With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then
And newborn baby died:
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.
“They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won,
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.
“Great praise the Duke of Marlbro’ won,
And our good Prince Eugene”
“Why ’twas a very wicked thing!”
Said little Welhelmine;
“Naynay, my little girl,” quoth he,
“It was a famous victory.
“And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win”
“But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why that I cannot tell,” said he,
“But ’twas a famous victory.”