Social Question

YoKoolAid's avatar

Do combantants really use the tactic of having women and children stand behind them to create collateral damage?

Asked by YoKoolAid (2424points) April 2nd, 2010

I was watching Rules of Engagement which takes place in Yemen, snipers were shooting up the U.S. embassy, and they had women holding small children stand behind them….I presume this is so when they take returning fire the women and children might get hit and they can claim: “Hey, the U.S. is killing women and children” I can’t believe women would actually be willing to put themselves and their child at risk

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46 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

All the time. Hezbollah does it as a matter of policy.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Yes. The ‘human shield” tactic has been used many times. Sometimes these people even do it voluntarily out of a warped view of martyrdom. I’ve seen it first hand and had to give the order to return fire nonetheless.

downtide's avatar

They also locate their military HQs in places like childrens’ hospitals and schools, for the same reason.

Trillian's avatar

Buncha pigs. I said before, they sacrifice their children. It’s reprehensible.

LuckyGuy's avatar

In Gaza they have been setting up and firing rockets from heavily populated neighborhoods.

davidbetterman's avatar

It’s called war for a reason. And everything’s fair in love and war. Although this particular tactic does seem just a mite chickenshit to me.

phillis's avatar

Considering the mindset required to initiate war to begin with, along with POW interrogation techniques, is there any doubt? It is used all the time by people because they have no honor, nor are they worthy of respect.

janbb's avatar

We’re all very quick to rush to judgment on this issue and so sure that this is definitely what is going on. There is a lot of murk certainly from the Gaza war of a year ago about whether the Palestinian fighters deliberately hid in schools and hospitals or whether the Israelis were indiscriminate in their targets. Fighting wars in heavily populated areas in morally reprehensible as is using human shields for propaganda reasons. The more we demonize the other side, the further we get from any chance of peace. I heard an Arab doctor who worked in Israel on the radio who had just found out that his wife and two children were killed by Israeli fire. This is a horror.

jaytkay's avatar

I don’t know if it’s common or not, but people who claim it is should provide some documentation.

CMaz's avatar

“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.”

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

TexasDude's avatar


But it is strictly against the rules for modern more civilized fighting forces like the British, American, German, Swiss, French, etc. militaries.

phillis's avatar

@janbb My eyes are wide open! I would be capable of dealing with such people, if they could be trusted. Please believe me when I say that the U.S. isn’t any cleaner of a rat than those who act on behalf of any other despot-run country. We have no honor, either. We just put a nice spin on things, and it works great! Those same people who believe those spins also believe that a picture shows “proof” of whatever the caption states beneath it.

Kraigmo's avatar

All fighting sides in war have had individuals or teams commit atrocity, and the use of human shields (and the deliberate killing of human shields) is just the tip of the iceberg.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Thank you for calling me a baby-killer…. again! : ((


Oh, bullshit! Give me examples of where the US has EVER deliberately used civilians as human shields, or committed atrocities as a deliberate matter of policy.

dpworkin's avatar


CaptainHarley's avatar

Some of the people on here are either flaming idiots or deliberately obfuscating the issue to further some sort of politically correct agenda, and hiding behind the shield of sacrifice on the part of American soldiers to do so! A plague on your house!


Contrary to what the politically correct would have you believe, watherboarding is not torture.

phillis's avatar

@CaptainHarley Don’t be an idiot. I have no such thoughts about you, and never have! My reference was in regard to recent news (waterboarding) and atrocities delivered during war times that certainly violate the terms of the Geneva convention, which was agreed upon by most countries – via signature – including the United States.

dpworkin's avatar

@CaptainHarley Why did the US execute two Japanese officers for waterboarding two Americans during WWII, calling it torture, and a capital offense?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Some of you are deliberately besmirching the honor of American armed forces by comparing us to the worst sort of terrorists. I take great unbrage at this and will no longer participate in this discussion. The US goes to almost incredible lengths to prevent civilian casualties in war, and sacrificing American lives in the process.

dpworkin's avatar

Unbrage? Is their such a thing as Brage?

janbb's avatar

@CaptainHarley FYI – I was actually besmirching the Israeli army in my post and not thinking about America at all in this thread.

davidbetterman's avatar

@CaptainHarleyOh, bullshit! Give me examples of where the US has EVER deliberately used civilians as human shields, or committed atrocities as a deliberate matter of policy.”

Vietnam…over and over and over…My Lai for instance…

Kraigmo's avatar

@CaptainHarley , the testimonies of hundreds of winter soldiers on Capitol Hill, for instance (video, audio and transcript options included):

And this is only this tip of the iceberg.

And I never said anything about anything being a “matter of policy”

phillis's avatar

If I might offer a generalized statement, I hope we can remember that the things we say are also going to be read by veterans – the same people who paid through the nose to secure our rights to say them. A little respect along with our points, please. A little empathy goes a long way.

jaytkay's avatar

Some of you are deliberately besmirching the honor of American armed forces by comparing us to the worst sort of terrorists

Pretending that American soldiers never committed atrocities is willful ignorance. Pretending that acknowledging the fact is an attack on all US soldiers is plain old ignorance.

Give me examples of where the US has EVER deliberately used civilians as human shields, or committed atrocities as a deliberate matter of policy.

So you’re cool with it as long its not policy. Nice.

davidbetterman's avatar

Nobody secured my rights for me but me @phillis I hear this all the time it is just so much bunk.
But it is nice of you to try to defend them.

Fenris's avatar

war is a good litmus as to how imaginary any and all morality really is.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

@davidbetterman What happened at My Lai was not policy. It was an atrocity, granted, but it was not policy. I have no doubt that in times of war soldiers (and this includes American ones) have made poor choices (yeah, it sounds trite, but you get my point).

As for no one securing your rights…. I wonder how long they would last if Al Qaeda ran things, if there wasn’t a military and people willing to sacrifice to stand guard. Then again, maybe you would like living under their rules so who knows. You might like not having freedom of religion and such.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

This is one of the elements of asymmetric warfare we need to come to grips with. Asymmetric warfare is nothing new, either; it’s largely how the American Revolution was fought, and the (American) Civil War, too.

At the time of the American Revolution, shooting from behind trees and stone walls was not how “gentlemen” waged war. At the time, “acceptable” warfare was waged between lines of marching troops and rank upon rank of riflemen facing each other across a battlefield. Hit and run, guerrilla type operations were “ungentlemanly”.

In the American Civil War, the asymmetry was between the Union’s massive advantage in material production that enabled them to carry more materials to the South, where the war was fought. Had the North been attempting to break the union instead of the Confederacy… then the war would still have been fought in the South, because the Union had the capability to do it that way. In addition, part of the Union strategy late in the war was to nullify the Confederacy’s ability and willingness to fight… by taking the fight to the countryside, especially during Sherman’s “March to the Sea” through Georgia.

If you’re going to fight a war, you have to fight the war that you have, and not the last one. (One of the primary reasons France and the Low Countries were so quickly overrun during the Nazi Blitzkrieg—the French thought that they’d be continuing the trench warfare of WW 1. The Germans had a few new ideas.)

evandad's avatar

If it weren’t for women and children there would be no such term as collateral damage. What difference does it make where they are? The death of innocents is the saddest part of war. There is never a winner in war, but they are always the losers.

jaytkay's avatar

Nobody secured my rights for me but me

You built this country yourself, dammit!

phillis's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Yeah, and they still lost their asses! Panzers, anyone? Anyone at all? The thing is, WHO wages these wars are criminals, as surely as those who flew planes into the buildings are criminals. In fact, if you want to know who to despise, follow the morality trail, then money trail. You’ll find they branch fairly quickly. If you want to know who is ultimately responsible,ask yourself, who is selling the supplies? They are the ones who make every powermonger thier bitch.

Now, @CyanoticWasp, dual at my house at dawn. Who should count the paces for us? Hehehe :)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@phillis I’m not making arguments in favor of many wars any more. But if you’re going to fight a war, then it’s incumbent upon the “war leaders” (mongers, if you will) to learn PDQ how it’s going to be fought, and then either fight it effectively that way or force it to your chosen ground and technique. That’s war.

I think we could find an enjoyable way to ‘dual’. I don’t want to duel with you, though.

phillis's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Oooh, you do talk like a scoundrel! I believe we might shock the confederacy with such scandelous talk! I declare, I don’t know why I put up with you :)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@phillis wjy, ma’am, I don’t know why anyone as charming as yourself (or anyone else, for that matter) would put up with the likes of me for more than a second.

Trillian's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Ahhhh. Stop fishin’!~

davidbetterman's avatar

@rahm_sahrivAs for no one securing your rights…. I wonder how long they would last if Al Qaeda ran things, if there wasn’t a military and people willing to sacrifice to stand guard. Then again, maybe you would like living under their rules so who knows. You might like not having freedom of religion and such.”

That is just more bullshit. We, here in the US, created Al Queda and the terrorists. If we would stop going around the world killing people and fomenting revolutions, we wouldn’t have all these people mad enough at us to crash jets into our skyscrapers.

I don’t need children to put on a uniform and grab a weapon to stand guard over me.
I do quite well guarding my little corner of the world.

I am presently engaged in defending the Constitution and the 1st Amendment against having my freedom of speech curtailed here. I don’t need any kids becoming murderers supposedly on my behalf.

phillis's avatar

@davidbetterman Et Tu? It’s rather like a virus, is it not?

davidbetterman's avatar

@phillis It is extremely interesting to see how these fine folks feel about this subject…
and to see how well the brainwashing has worked on them!

phillis's avatar

@davidbetterman Sorry, didn’t meant to be ambiguous. I was refering to the censorship :)

davidbetterman's avatar

@phillis Oho…the 1st amendment issue. Yes, it is quite amusing that in the land of the free and the home of the brave, (that many of these fine responders feel is being defended by our soldiers) we still have the authorities trying to shut us up and hold us down.

Perhaps we would be better off defending ourselves against our politicians, corporations and the wealthy elite instead of going around the world murdering innocent women and children and forcing others to live our lifestyle…

phillis's avatar

@davidbetterman I can’t argue that most of our dissedents are of the home grown, political variety. Bunch of snakes slithering in a pit built especially for them, it seems to me. I could give a plugged nickel for the lot of them, frankly.

davidbetterman's avatar

@phillis A plugged nickel is way too much!

phillis's avatar

@davidbetterman I didn’t want to sound too cheap :)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Another point should be raised. In these current conflicts, the insurgents are not wearing uniforms. In the case I referred to earlier, a road was blocked by IEDs. When an EOD team was sent in to clear the mines, they came under fire from a machine gun and two riflemen, accompanied by four women. Two of my troops were wounded. My people did not return fire until ordered to do so, and then made every effort to avoid hitting the (apparent) non-combatants. Two of the women were wounded in the engagement, both were found to have ammunition on their persons, making them combatants under the Hague Convention.

That gun position could have been cleared in seconds by return fire from the cannon on the fighting vehicle. My troops acted as disciplined professionals, assessing the situation, taking cover, reporting and waiting for orders. The gun position was cleared by marksman at a range of 400m, under orders not to target anyone not seen carrying a weapon.

This is not an isolated situation, but typical of what goes on daily in Afghanistan. The orders I gave were in accordance with the stated policy of higher command. The current interpretation of the Hague Convention is that even ununiformed, unarmed people actively cooperating with the enemy in a combat zone may be considered combatants. In this conflict, women are frequently used as munitions carriers, even suicide bombers. Quite a bit of ordnance can be carried under those robes. The Taliban frequently use boys as young as 12 for armed combat.

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