By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Getting there

The New York Times finally publishes a toughly worded editorial about reports that white phosphorus used by U.S. forces against insurgents in Fallujah last year wound up injuring and killing civilians as well. An excerpt:

Now the use of a ghastly weapon called white phosphorus has raised questions about how careful the military has been in avoiding civilian casualties. It has also further tarnished America’s credibility on international treaties and the rules of warfare.

White phosphorus, which dates to World War II, should have been banned generations ago. Packed into an artillery shell, it explodes over a battlefield in a white glare that can illuminate an enemy’s positions. It also rains balls of flaming chemicals, which cling to anything they touch and burn until their oxygen supply is cut off. They can burn for hours inside a human body.

The United States restricted the use of incendiaries like white phosphorus after Vietnam, and in 1983, an international convention banned its use against civilians. In fact, one of the many crimes ascribed to Saddam Hussein was dropping white phosphorus on Kurdish rebels and civilians in 1991.

Among other things, the editorial is invaluable for its implicit challenge to the news side to start investigating this story.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Judging the Herald


Times deselect


  1. The Emerson Avenger

    Things that make you go h-m-m-m. . . I can’t help but wonder just how Saddam Hussein got his supply of white phosphorous in the first place. Is it possible that the U.S.A. helped Saddam to develop it or even directly supplied him with it?

  2. Sven

    Since World War II? It’s most infamous use was in World War I.

  3. Anonymous

    Not sure this rises to the level of LBJ dropping Nepalm on children Dan. Wait? You blame that on Nixon because you’re a partisan shill.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén