American Heritage Dictionary
Napalm, incendiary material used in bombs and flame throwers. Developed during World War II, napalm is a mixture of gasoline (sometimes mixed with other petroleum fuels) and a thickening agent. The thickener turns the mixture into a dense jelly that flows under pressure, as when shot from a flame thrower, and sticks to a target as it burns. Earlier Soap thickeners were replaced by polystyrene and similar polymers.
Philip Jones Griffiths, Vietnam, Inc.
NAPALM. The most effective “anti-personnel” weapon, it is euphemistically described as “unfamiliar cooking fluid” by those apologists for American military methods. They automatically attribute all napalm cases to domestic accidents caused by the people using gasoline instead of kerosene in their cooking stoves. Kerosene is far too expensive for the peasants, who normally use charcoal for cooking. The only “cooking fluid” they know is very “unfamiliar” – it is delivered through their roofs by U.S. planes.
Some of its finer selling points were explained to me by a pilot in 1966: “We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow [Chemical Company]. The original product wasn’t so hot – if the gooks were quick they could scrape it off. So the boys started adding polystyrene – now it sticks like shit to a blanket. But then if the gooks jumped under water it stopped burning, so they started adding Willie Peter (WP – white phosphorous) so’s to make it burn better. It’ll even burn under water now. And just one drop is enough, it’ll keep on burning right down to the bone so they die anyway from phosphorous poisoning.”
Philip Jones Griffiths, Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides by Christian Appy
There was a napalm ward in the provincial hospital of Quang Ngai where the people were so badly disfigured they could probably never go back into society. Many had been put in there to die. I was there once and saw this kid. He had his eyelids burned off, his nose burned off, and his lips burned off. He was halfway to becoming a skull, but he was still alive. I could hardly look at him—he was so ugly, so frightening, really, really frightening.
So I just glanced at him and turned around. I was photographing someone else and I felt somebody pulling at the back of my shirt. I turned around and it was the boy. He indicated with sign language that he wanted me to take his picture. As I took his picture, I remember thinking that it will never get published but it’s something we should have for the war crimes trial. Of course that never happened.
When I came out of that ward there was an American journalist. She said, “I can’t go in there, it’s too horrible. Can you take my camera and take some pictures for me?” I said, “No, you go in there. Those people were burned with your taxpayer’s money. Go and see what they did to those people with your money.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Interbeing: Commentaries on the Tiep Hien Precepts
Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, sound. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.
Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to life. Select a vocation which helps realize your ideal compassion.
Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and to prevent war.
Respect the property of others but prevent others from enriching themselves from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.