Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rules of War

The origination of certain rules of war, and the idea of humane warfare can be traced back to the United States. One of the first documents pertaining to war was the The Lieber Code of 1863, which concerned the governance of armies in the field. Then came the Hague Convention, followed later by four different Geneva Conventions ending with the latest, Geneva Convention of 1977.

Have the rules changed since 9/ll? Are we working under a new set of laws? Do we need to be? Take into account these two points of view concerning why the United States should or should not continue to recognize and conform to the international conventions on warfare. The two professors, John C. Yoo and David D. Caron, are both from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law. I would like to mention that Yoo has contributed to the Patriot Act and believes not only that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the intentions of its authors but that he happens to be one who can divine what those intentions were. Yoo is a member of the elite Federalist Society.

Has the U.S. already written a new set of laws governing warfare in the field? Let's take a look at what the Army Field Manual presently describes as a war crime, and who is responsible. Of special interest is the section within the manual which covers government officials.

510. Government Officials

The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a war crime acted as the head of a State or as a responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility for his act.

I'm not pointing any fingers, just pointing out the bottom line when it comes to responsibility. Oh wait, I forgot, he can't be held accountable and if the Constitution doesn't mean anything to our elected "representatives, why would the Geneva Convention or the mention of war crimes?

With all that said, I would like to touch on a particular corner of the war in Iraq. Actually the use of a certain weapon and the community in Iraq where the use of this weapon has drawn world-wide attention. Does anyone know what sort of weapon will literally melt the skin off the bones but yet leave clothes intact? If any of you have military experience, you'll probably know that the agent I'm talking about is white phosphorus (Willy Pete). Really horrible stuff guys! It's a cleanser of sorts, as once it's on you, as long as the agent can get oxygen, it doesn't stop burning until there's nothing left to burn. The use of this agent against military targets isn't specifically banned by any treaty. But many consider WP as a chemical weapon, even the Department of Defense, and therefore it should be outlawed under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Many of you may have heard about the Fallujah Massacre. Should the use of Willy Pete be banned by international law? I'm not judging anyone but rather I want to stress the need for constant vigilance when humanity is at stake. The terms humane and war are incosistent with most people's reasoning I agree. But if we can't stop the insanity that carries us to war, the least we can do is show the world exactly how inhumane it actually is! Keep it in their faces, show the world what the cost of war really is! Don't let them ignore it. Don't let them paint it glamerous. Don't let them hide it under a cloak of democracy. You view the video of Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre, and then tell me what you think should be done about the chemical commonly know as "Willy Pete!


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