Smells Like Victory?

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Looking for UN-banned weapons in Iraq? You might start with the napalm the military now admits that we dropped. From the article:

"We napalmed both those [bridge] approaches," said Colonel James Alles, commander of Marine Air Group 11. "Unfortunately there were people there … you could see them in the [cockpit] video. They were Iraqi soldiers. It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect."

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  1. It would have been so much better to send the Marines storming across the bridges into the teeth of artillery and automatic weapons fire, directed at them from the hardened positions that were napalmed. Then, from the piles of dead Yanqui bodies, they could have seen our resolve to win.

    And oh by the way, as the article makes clear, it wasn’t napalm that was dropped.

    Napalm is a 2:1 mixture of gasoline, and naptha soap. The last of the U.S. napalm stocks were destroyed in 2001.

    What was dropped instead was a mixture of kerosene and polystyrene in a 2:1 ratio.

    Both are similar in effect and use – much like beer and Jack Daniels. But if all I have is Jack Daniels, and you ask for beer and I tell you I have no beer – it doesn’t make me a liar. The new incendiary mixture is not napalm, any more than fuel/air explosives or white phosphorous rounds are napalm, though all are classed as incendiaries.

    That article is also very clever in how in insinuates that napalm was used by the U.S. against non-military targets in VietNam. Any interaction between innocent civilians and napalm in VietNam initiated by the U.S. military was accidental; napalm was never used to target civilians – though a couple rather famous pictures did record the South VietNamese Air Force inadvertantly bombing one of their own villages with it.

    I will admit, it’s funny to see Reason relying on the Independent for news articles. Just do me a favor and don’t bitch about not being taken seriously — when you cite to the seriously anti-American paper that takes John Pilger and Robert Fisk seriously, you get what you deserve.

  2. Please, Stephen. The difference between Napalm and this substance is about as substantial as the difference between RC Cola and Pepsi.

    (But why am I bothering to argue with someone so ridiculously closed-minded that he rejects absolutely everything in the Independent out of hand? How pathetic.)

  3. I suppose it’s better to kill them really ugly like so that you need to kill as few as possible, rather than the “kindler and gentler” approach of just killing them quickly in mass amounts.

    Excellant point on how it wasn’t napalm, Stephen – seems like all the news channels are getting that one wrong, last I checked. Of course, had they not called it napalm, with all it’s psychological and cultural baggage, there likely would have been no story whatsoever; “United States uses incendiaries against Iraqi Resistors”. Just doesn’t make good copy, and why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

    Then again, it could just be good ole fashioned journalistic ignorance; many times I’ve noted how the media seems to know absolutely nothing about anything explosive or chemistry related, and many others note how the media typically knows nothing about the workings of the military. Put the two together and you get a whole hell of a lot of screw ups.

  4. JJ: If there is no difference, then there should be no problem in calling them what they are – incendiaries, not napalm. The difference is to sub-rationally connect prejudgements one word has with a different thing.

    If they just called them incendiaries, there would be no real tread to the story, I think. The US use of various air-burst weaponry is pretty similar in effect; compare the effects of incendiaries with automatic gunfire and artillery, and the only difference is that one maims with fire, and the other with explosive and impact force.

  5. Were it not for napalm, I would have been dead almost 53 years ago. And they can be thankful they were not hit with Willie Peter.

  6. I think the real complaint here is that enemy soldiers were killed in the first place.

    Granted, death by sticky, burning gel is not pleasant, but we are talking about a war here.

    No better friend, no worse enemy.

    Semper Fi

  7. Is ‘Buncombe’ a good name for a journalist?

  8. I think if the shoe was one the other foot and they used it against our soldiers we would be calling for war crimes tribunals and classifying it as a “weapon of mass destruction”

  9. matt,

    No we wouldn’t.

  10. Kill the enemy as quickly and brutally as possible. Do so in as horrendous a manner as possible so as to demoralize any survivors. Then move on to the next target.

  11. “The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect.”

    Sick, just sick

  12. While I’m sure that other countries are just racing to create a Tickle Bomb, the fact remains that watching your comrades die in a horrific manner is a darned effective way of making you decide to take off your uniform and go home. Yeah, acknowledged, it’s a godawful way to die, but there’s a reason the Iraqi Army decided that sustained direct combat wasn’t in their best interest, and you can bet your ass it wasn’t because we were shooting big fluffy pillows at them.

    Beyond that, according to the article “…A 1980 UN convention banned the use against civilian targets…” The weapon’s not banned, certain uses are. The US (which never signed the 1980 treaty in the first place) used the weapons against dug in troops.

    So the weapons aren’t actually banned, and the US used them in an acceptable manner. What’s the story?

  13. Whats that smell they love so much in the moring? Ah yes, the brown acid.

  14. It does make you wonder what it would have been like in Powells report if Iraqi had several of these firebombs in its arsenal. Of course if they did, they would be banned weapons for sure. However, Powell probably would have been reporting them as hideous and evil devices in which Saddam would undoubtedly used on his own people and neighbors.

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