Tear Gas and Battling the Ba’athists and Fanatics

What is the obstacle to using tear gas against armed combatants in Iraq? As I understand the matter, there is concern that the use of non-lethal gas is banned by international law. One discussion suggested during the early phases of the war that legal questions were the primary obstacle to their use.

Surely there must be some way to deploy tear gas lawfully against the monsters who have seized central Fallujah. Are U.S. forces required by international law to use only lethal force when nonlethal methods could be used?

10 Responses to “Tear Gas and Battling the Ba’athists and Fanatics”

  1. T. J. Madison

    The assumption that the resistance forces in Fallujah are “monsters” seems a bit questionable. What evidence do we have of this? True, they have the arrogance to stand in the way of our awesome might, and they must surely be killed so as to coerce the remaining population to obey us.

    But monsters, I just don’t see it.

  2. Tom G. Palmer

    We must have different standards regarding murdering contractors, pulling their bodies apart in a frenzy, and hanging their body parts from bridges and electrical wires. And then there’s the matter of dropping mortar shells on religious pilgrims, executing hostages, assassinating doctors and alwyers, carrying out suicide bombings against Red Cross/Red Crescent workers, the U.N. headquarters, school buses in Basra, and the like, none of which were accidents and all of which were orchestrated by the Ba’athist and Sunni fanatics who are currently orchestrating events in Fallujah. Whoever it is who has posted this note, he’s one very disturbed person if he can’t characterize those acts as monstrous.

  3. yt kealoha

    Islam is a cult. You many cult members in a cultural war vs the west. You have the rest sitting on their hands and thus being coopted into the same war. The west either fights them now on their own miserable turb or in the streets of the west sooner rather than later.

  4. M. Lincoln

    The assumption that the resistance forces in Fallujah are “monsters” seems a bit questionable. What evidence do we have of this? True, they have the arrogance to stand in the way of our awesome might, and they must surely be killed so as to coerce the remaining population to obey us.

    But monsters, I just don’t see it.
    You’ve got to be joking. Along with desecrating the corpses of four Americans, there’s also the kidnappings. Did you see where they threatened to burn to death three of the Italian hostages. You don’t find something a bit wrong with that? What about using ambulances for weapons transport? What about storing weapons in and fighting from mosques?

    You’re nothing but a knee-jerk liberal who refuses to realize that the side you’re rooting for is engaging in practices that are reasonable society would find despicable and horrifying.

  5. Mark Buehner

    Tear gas has a lot of possible downsides. First, at best its a temporary solution on any given day. Sure it might help break up an assault, but it doesnt kill any insurgents who will return tomorrow. Second, its not a silver bullet. Tear gas used on a large scale will almost certainly kill some civilians, children, the elderly, or adults caught in closed spaces. Dont doubt that even a single civilian killed in such a way would be played up as Halabja part II. Most importantly, it just wouldnt look good to see thousands of civilians fleeing the city with tears streaking down their faces while the insurgents toughed it out. Might have the positive effect of clearing the city of civilians, but the PR cost could produce the classic phyrric victory.

  6. Jack Pyle

    Under UN treaties and other agreements, the use of chemical weapons is prohibited. So in a strange way, we are given no option but to shoot people in a war zone.

    This, by the way, explains the US military’s fascination with sound as a weapon. Certain high frequency sound waves can give the feeling that one’s skin is on fire. This is certainly an incentive to leave the area.

  7. Tear Gas (CS) is a class I choking agent. The use of all chemical agents is prohibited by the chemical agent conventions signed by the last administration and ratified by the senate.

  8. Tom G. Palmer

    The clarifications are helpful. U.S. forces are constrained by law from using non-lethal force. That means that local law enforcement in Boston or Atlanta can use tear gas on Americans to catch criminals and save lives in the process, but soldiers are prohibited from doing so in situations where terrorists are using human shields. There is surely something wrong with that. Why can’t tear gas be issued to the Iraqi police to allow them to handle domestic disturbances of the peace (to put it mildy) and to capture killers, just as the police departments in American cities could?

  9. Jack Pyle

    Issuing tear gas to Iraqi police would be a practical option. Unfortunately, the Iraqi forces have not shown any inclination to stand and fight, opting to run, or worse, turn their guns on the Marines. Not having a non-lethal alternative, the Marines would be forced to kill the very forces they have trained and supported.

    There is also the psychological impact of the use of a gas on the population. I can only imagine the type of panic that would ensue once people started dropping in the streets from the gas. Lets not forget the horrible legacy of the deposed regime and the generations that must pass before that memory is erased from the collective psyche of the population.

  10. I’d like to comment on the “monsters” debate. Being a Brit I don’t have the American tendency for arrogance or the inability to question ones actions so my view is balanced I feel.

    I totally agree that the actions of some of these insurgents is disgusting and can never be condoned but ask yourself this, if you were being attacked by a force that you could never match in terms of arms, logistics, computer technology or pretty much anything else what do you do? They do these vile acts because they know that it hits us where a bullet never could, our psychology.

    The guy who wrote Islam is cult showed his naivety in the first sentence. Islam is a religion and being agnostic myself I question why it is so life-demanding but before you criticise their fanaticism, look at your own president. George W Bush makes 99% of his policies based on his faith. I mean just look at his views on abortion!

    We have to accept that although we do not understand why these people would die in the name of Islam, it is their belief system and we should respect it. They believe death is nothing but a step to heaven and to them Allah is infinitely more important than life, a concept that is opposite in the west where we’re all scared of dying and religion is hardly practiced let alone believed in. So with this in mind, ordering your soldiers to strip naked a Muslim and force him to act out homo-erotic acts on fellow inmates is more than just insulting; it disgusts them equally as much as, if not more than, us seeing one of our own being beheaded.

    The trouble with a lot of comments made by some people (usually Americans) is they only understand their way of thinking and refuse to accept that their enemy’s way has any logic. They think the same of us and we do of them, only in reverse but the hate is still there.