Tougher regulations on U.S. chemical sales

Obama should regulate the sale of white phosphorus, a dangerous chemical used by the Israeli forces.

Just as it seems to get a little bit safer, we are reminded in gruesome fashion of just how dangerous a world ravaged by humankindâÄôs devices and policies can be. As President Barack Obama began pledging to close the U.S.-run detainment center of Guantanamo Bay, reports began to surface from groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that Israeli forces have been committing war crimes during their recent incursion into Gaza by using the chemical weapon white phosphorus on its citizens. Distributed in wafers, white phosphorus bursts into flames upon contact with oxygen. It is an incendiary device and can either produce a smoke screen to confuse enemies or burn buildings and human flesh. When coming into contact with the latter, it produces a piercing pain and burns deeply into the skin. The resulting burns are hard to treat and the flames are only strengthened when water is applied. The Israeli government first denied accusations that it used white phosphorous as a weapon in the invasion, but recently admitted to it in light of mounting evidence. The country stringently denies, however, that it used the weapon against civilians. This defense is hard to swallow, though, when one considers the logistics involved. Since the white phosphorus fragments and covers a wide area, it is not a precise weapon for use in a crowded urban setting like Gaza. The especially troubling aspect of this all is that white phosphorus is produced in part by U.S. companies like Pocatello and the Monsanto Company, according to EnvironmentWriter.org . If Obama is as dedicated to the value of human lives as he claims to be âÄî disdaining the use of torture in combating global terrorism âÄî he should recognize the evil inherent in the use of this chemical as a weapon against civilians and prevent the sale of an American-made material for such disgusting aims. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in The Independent Collegian at the University of Toledo . Please send comments to [email protected]