Clambering out of one snake pit only to step bravely into the next one, the adorable Ms. Z touches on the subject of incendiary devices; specifically, the allegations that Israel is using white phosphorus munitions against Lebanon.
Ms. Z links to CNN's Anderson Cooper who, for someone who is usually on the ball, muffs this one badly when he claims (emphasis added):
We're hearing charges from Lebanon that Israel is using bombs containing phosphorus, which is an incendiary substance that can cause severe burns. Here's the raw data.
White phosphorus is a colorless substance with a garlic-like smell. It ignites when exposed to air. It's primarily used as smoke screens or signaling devices. The United States and Great Britain have used it in Iraq. White phosphorus is not specifically banned by the international rules of war.
Unless of course, you're using it against civilian populations -- then it sure as hell is out of bounds:
Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons.
Geneva, 10 October 1980
Protection of civilians and civilian objects
1. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons.
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...
As you can read (unless you're a total cementhead or Damian Penny), it's not enough to simply not explicitly target civilians, is it? Point 2 makes it clear that it's illegal to use those weapons against even clearly military targets if they're in a civilian area. But that's not the real issue here, is it?
No, the real issue here is that the same wankers who were howling with outrage over Saddam Hussein's alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction or chemical weapons, and shrieking that, holy fucking shit, he's a monster, he gassed his own people, are suddenly seriously cool with dropping incendiary devices on civilian populations. As Juan Cole so aptly put it:
The US military is puzzled about the outcry over the use of white phosphorus at Fallujah. After all, a 500-pound bomb is also destructive. My guess? You can't go to war against Saddam on the grounds that he has stockpiles of chemical weapons, and then turn around and use incendiary bombs of a sort that much of the world regards as a form of chemical weapon. It is the hypocrisy factor.