On The Last Word, Laurence O’Donnell undermined the American case that we are “on the right side of the red line on chemical weapons” by presenting a short history of napalm and its deployment in American warfare.
He begins with its invention at Harvard in 1942 and documenting its usage in World War II and Vietnam, before moving on to the more significant issue: the “inhumane” ways in which napalm can kill.
“Napalm attaches to human flesh in a way that’s impossible to remove,” he said. But “it kills in other ways too. You can be untouched by [a 100 pound napalm bomb] and be killed by a heat stroke. You can be killed by suffocation. You can be killed by breathing in carbon monoxide poisoning. You can be killed by dehydration.”
“Napalm was an ‘instant hit’ in World War II,” he continued. “It was our cheapest weapon of mass destruction. Each bomb was made of plastic, held 100 gallons of napalm and cost $40.”
“But how do we evaluate the quality of death in war?” he asked. “By the elapsed time from the initial wound to death? By the pain level? I don’t think there’s a reasonable way to make that evaluation.”