Thursday, November 17, 2005

Shakin' and Bakin'

It would appear that no matter how much things change they always seem to remain the same. Case in point: the use of incendiary weapons in Iraq with innocent civilians the primary recipients—again! I remember very clearly what incendiary weapon, bombs do to people. I saw it in 1965/66/67 Vietnam with the widespread use of Napalm. The use of incendiary weapons is for one purpose and one purpose only when you get right down to where the rubber meets the road: to strike terror in the hearts of people--think "War Crimes" on a grand scale. Bush/Cheney and their shadow government truly have turned this nation into a terrorist state; and we must put an end to this any way we are able, or there will no nation left to save as it will have lost its collective soul!

Dr “Bud” Fine tears into the use of incendiary weapons by the military. As one that was for decades a researcher on Bio/Chem protection gear, he knows what is at stake with their use. As do those of us who have been a witness to what those weapons do. Dr. Fine may be contacted thru his web site, --Jack

Shakin’ and Bakin’
By: Dr. Bernard J. Fine

In the latest issue of (published November 14), in the Reality Show section, I devoted the space to coverage of some of the latest information that has become available concerning the use of white phosphorus and napalm by the American military in the November 2004 rape of Fallujah, Iraq. This use of chemical weapons against civilians in Fallujah by the U.S. has been essentially unreported by the American press.

I’m sure there are those who will consider the sources cited on the Reality Show pages as untrustworthy, but, as I pointed out there, one of the articles that cited the use of white phosphorus as a combat weapon was in the March-April 2005 Issue of Field Artillery .

[“Field Artillery is a bimonthly magazine published by the US Army Field Artillery, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for Army and Marine Field Artillerymen stationed around the world. As stated in the Field Artillery Journal, first published in 1911, the purpose of the magazine is “to disseminate professional knowledge and furnishing information as to the artillery’s progress, development and best use in campaign; to cultivate with the other arms a common understanding of the power and limitations of each; to foster
a feeling of interdependence among the different arms and of hearty cooperation by all; and to promote understanding between the regular and militia forces by forging a close bond—all of which objects are worthy and contribute to the good of our country.” --Mission Statement-Field Artillery Journal- Ft. Sill, Oklahoma]

From the March-April Issue of Field Artillery, article entitled “The Fight for Fallujah” by Capt. James T. Cobb, 1st Lt. Christopher A LaCour and Sgt.1st Class William H. Hight [Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry’s (TF2-2IN) Fire Support element (FSE) that operated as a “mini-brigade FSE” during the Battle of Fallujah:

p.26.b. White Phosphorus

“WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. 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 (high explosives). We fired 'shake and bake' [emphasis mine] missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

p.26.c. Hexachloroethane Zinc (HC) Smoke and Precision guided Munitions

“We could have used these munitions. We used improved WP for screening missions when HC smoke would have been more effective and saved our WP for lethal missions....”

This article clearly and explicitly refers to the use of white phosphorus as a lethal weapon. There will be arguments that the WP was used only against “insurgents,” (a term used erroneously by the Bush administration and its defendants as meaning “outsiders” or professional soldiers from other countries who have infiltrated Iraq and are fighting against U.S. forces) and not against civilians. However, as indicated by persons “on the ground” in Fallujah (see, for example, articles by Participating Author Dahr Jamail who was in Fallujah as an unembedded correspondent, i.e. did not have approval of U.S. military but was strictly on his own) the term “insurgent” was entirely meaningless in the context of Fallujah. Most Iraqi fighters were people protecting their homes and their land from invasion by foreigners. They used hand-held weapons and home-made bombs and were relatively powerless against attacks by the so-called “shock and awe” onslaught by U.S. planes and artillery using, among other things, WP. Also, according to those on the ground, including Jamail, the majority of Iraqis killed were women, children and the elderly.

You may also hear various testimonies by the military regarding not targeting civilians and about the precision of their various weapons, including artillery. Well. . .

In connection with my work as a civilian scientist with the army, I had opportunities to observe “professional” U.S. Army Artillery Fire Direction teams perform under stress situations. The teams were impressive, but errors of different types occurred. Under conditions of extended operations, when fatigue had set in, communication errors were observed to occur. For example, one could hear an observer give a range of, say, “3-4-8-5” (meters) and hear a confirmation message repeated as “3-8-5-4,” a range error of almost 400 meters.

Similar types of errors were observed under conditions of extreme heat or at high terrestrial altitudes (i.e. high mountain conditions). Those errors were induced under controlled conditions in climatically controlled chambers and those who committed the errors were unaware of making them and were surprised and shocked that they had occurred. If we add to the stressors we used the extreme personal effects of combat on many if not most participants and the close spatial proximity of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians, there is no way that civilians could not have been harmed in Fallujah, no matter how carefully the assault was planned and/or conducted.

I must add that the “shake and bake” language of the Field Artillery article suggests to me, at least, a somewhat cavalier view of the entire operation and not too much consideration of whether the targets were or were not civilians.

At the same time, I must say that I am aware of the complexity of combat operations, the excitement, pressures and decisions involved therein and the dedication of most soldiers to doing their jobs well. I am also aware of how, in the heat of combat, when one’s own life is at stake, decent people may perform indecent acts. Although their names have been cited above, I in no way mean to imply that Capt. Cobb, 1st Lt LaCour and Sgt. Hight did anything other than what they understood they were supposed to do. Based on my 32 year acquaintance with soldiers of all kinds, I have found most of them to be decent human beings sincerely dedicated to protecting their country. On the other hand, I also have found that on occasion, the dedication may take the form of an overly zealous pursuit of goals without forethought of consequences for self or other.

The problem for me arises when decent men and women become caught up in situations not of their own making and either do not perceive or do not want to perceive that very basic norms of human decency are involved. I’m not quite sure how to blame someone who doesn’t have the innate ability to perceive violations of basic norms of decency or represses such perceptions from awareness or never was given insights into moral concepts in the first place..

Thus, I feel extremely sad and, I must say, rather helpless, when decent people get caught up in the complexity of combat, perform heinous crimes against humanity and then live to suffer later the realization of what they have done, frequently becoming dysfunctional and burdens on the very society they thought they were protecting, and, equally frequently, being shunned by that society.

Moreover, I feel equally sad when a significant portion of that society rallies in rather shallow fashion around a “Support our Troops,” movement that consists primarily of attaching yellow ribbons to cars and other public places, rather than materially assisting those who have been troops, have come home and now need that support.

Many Americans, sad to say, give the impression of being very shallow people, both with regard to ideas - how they think, act and behave - and with regard to their views of religion, politics and democracy. They seem to live in a world of sound bites, unaware, apparently, that they are being “bitten” by an organized effort of business enterprise and government to keep them that way. . . manipulable, suggestible, gullible.

I have written elsewhere sometime in the past, I’m not sure where, that the fault lies not with those who are being manipulated, but primarily with the manipulators. I suspect that most manipulation is intentional and for the personal benefit of the manipulators; that those doing the manipulating know full well what they are doing and couldn’t care less about the effects of their callousness on the “victims.”

I suggest that at this moment, most of us, not only the poor folks of Iraq, are being “shaken and baked” so to speak, by our present government and that this may be regarded as a crime against humanity as well.

The difference between the two crimes is that if we look at the photographs of scorched, roasted Iraqis, we can at least see proof of a cruel, inhuman finality that has been imposed on others in our name and in the name of democracy and we can ponder how we let that take place. If we look to Washington, we can only see shameful shells of a persistent, uncaring, indecently cruel, ruling inhumanity that has perpetrated these incidents. If we have the least amount of awareness of the difference between these two situations, we should have no choice but to rise up, outraged, to cleanse ourselves of those despicable beings and, somehow, figure out how to atone for our sins.

Also see:

The Fog of War: White Phosphorus, Fallujah and Some Burning Questions:


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