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Paul Coletti | 16:50 UK time, Friday, 16 March 2007

We're off air now but tonight we talked about the US marine charged with killing 18 in Haditha and just how warm a welcome will Sir Elton get in Trinidad and Tobago when he plays there in April? Read on to see all the comments, texts, e-Mails and one-liners we had . .

Combat Ops: Where does the buck stop when things go wrong?

Robert in the USA called in to say “patriotic Americans will understand that war is ugly and that men will face life and death decisions. Innocents are dead because insurgents are playing dead or hiding in mosques.”

Haythem has called us from Baghdad: “nothing can justify the killing of innocent people. The 24 people had nothing to do with anything.. Americans are supposed to protect Iraqis not kill them.”

Robert: “I can understand this. I was in the Gulf ’91 and we left early. You can’t think longer. I’ve had friends whose sons have died in Iraq. It’s not just the Iraqi people paying a price.”

Another e-Mail from Adam: “I’m a veteran of the first gulf war and do not believe the American military is trigger happy.”

Haythem: “We haven’t seen freedom. All we’ve seen is chaos and blood and killing.”

An e-Mail from Timothy: “Any charges placed on this soldier are absurd. As a veteran of the Iraq war myself, I can tell you from first hand experience this soldier did exactly as he was trained to do. If a soldier can’t execute this kind of slit second decision, he may not only be endangering other innocent lives by not acting, but the lives of fellow soldiers as well. In Iraq there is no distinguishing of who is “good” or who is “bad”. unfortunately, everyone is potential insurgence.”

Colby Buzzell: “Politicians should be more aware of the situation they’re putting the troops in. I don’t wanna be in situations like that. If you do the wrong thing you could face luife in jail.”

Captain Amyas of the British Army: “American kids grow up with guns around them. It’s a cultural attitude. Our policemen don’t even carry gun. There’s a nervousness around weapons when kids join the army.”

Court has e-Mailed in
Hi WHYS! I feel that while the actions of these troops are horrible, it is the reality of war. Civilians have been killed in every war known to man. When you send an armed military who is tired, scared, doesn't have the full support of the very people who sent them there, and don't have a clear description of who the enemy is, accidental deaths will happen. Really, this is just another example that Iraq is in a state of civil war.

We’re off for the news but don’t go away . . .

Chris in Oregon has mailed us:
“U.S. policy coming from the top says that the U.S. should have impunity for its actions, that we are above international law in a number of key ways, because of our putatively inherent goodness. Unfortunately the attitude of impunity, as long as we say we have good intentions, trickles down. Soldiers do make decisions under pressure. But they do so within a culture that dehumanizes Iraqis, with comrades killed by anonymous IEDs so those responsible can't be identified. The fault ultimately goes to the fact that this whole war began with illegal U.S./U.K. aggression.”

James is in Japan: “The case of Frank Wuterich tells us the US troops are acting very irresponsibly and callously.”

Gary Cross runs californiaconservative.org: “Based on what I’ve seen, if they hesitate in that situation they are putting themselves at risk.”

James: “I’ve never been in combat but people in WWII had a hard time killing ‘cos they saw the people close up. The US army is dehumanising them with video games. We have to go up in the senior command chain and ask if these soldiers are being trained correctly.”

Adam Wittenberg writes for a local paper in Frank Wuterich’s home state: “The people that know Frank and his family have stood by him. This is a very divided area of the country. Connecticut is known as a blue state.

Michael: “It’s fast and furious. I’m not saying anything goes in war. You take it case-by-case. To expect perfection is foolish and ludicrous. I regret killing hundreds of people in Vietnam. But there are other things I regret even more like leaving Vietnam early and seeing the people get butchered. That’s what gonna happen in Iraq if we leave.”

An e-Mail from Andy:
“First of all the pilot was not being fired upon so it was not a split second decision. He even noticed the Allied indicator on the target. The decision was incorrect and the American Government tried to hide it. Yes he asked for confirmation and he was given incorrect information. However he is in the situation and needs to use common sense. As for the other situation it sounds like a reflex action which is what ground troops are taught to do. Tough call.”

An e-Mail from Rob in the USA:
“I don't believe that "firing first to protect yourself" is an acceptable excuse for the marines' actions in Iraq, given that their entire mission is supposedly to protect, not to kill. Our soldiers put themselves in harm's way, for which they should be applauded; but part of that mission is to be the ones that have to suffer for the sake of the Iraqis.
However, if you don't like that (and I don't), you should take it up with the people who began this ill-conceived war in the first place: the United State government.”

Robert has e-Mailed:
1) The Marine who is being torn apart for firing on the civilians still has to live with the faces of his "victims." What about those suicide bombers who don't even live to see the damage they do, or the lives they destroy? Why is no one demanding the leaders of those groups withdraw from the conflict the same way they are all but demanding the U.S. withdraw?

2) I recall that the airmen involved in the death of the British soldier were told that there were no friendly units in the area. If that is true perhaps the discussion about firing on the target was to decided if their information was accurate or not. They did not just make an attack for the sake of blood.

Alvin has e-Mailed:
I support Captain Amyas. American Soldiers are trigger happy. You don't have those incidents with British Soldiers who have a reputation of bein very disciplined and "in charge".

Several texts in on this subject:

Please let note that these allied forces soldiers in Iraq are humans & can make mistake. Thanks, Friday, Kaduna Nig.)

Whatever is happening in Iraq is atrocity against Iraqis not democracy & US troops r following orders to KILL. Abu, Maiduguri Nigeria

Records have shown that civilian shields have given cover to insurgents. From Palestine, tm Iraq, Afghanistan tm Somalia, the story is same. Fidelis in Lagos.

More then half a million peoples, according to media reports, have lost their lives in Iraq. Were they all armed with weapons and died in combat? Surely not, is the obvious answer. Then who is responsible? Is it not the duty of coalition forces to provide security and safety to the peoples of Iraq once the forces have taken over the control of the entire territory of Iraq? ADNAN from Islamabad PAKISTAN .

The only original thing we do in life is mistakes. it is never intentional, but has lots of lessons 2 be learnt. Philip, Nigeria.

I am amazed that civilized man makes rules for war. I would expect rather that there should be rules against war. For as long as there are wars, innocent lives'll be lost.

I can't help thinking that if, instead of a US marine who had killed Iraqi civilians, it was an SS soldier killing suspected resistance fighters, he would have gone to Nuremburg and been hung as a war criminal.
Jones, USA

If Iraqis cared about Iraqis being killed why have more died due to insurgents and Saddam? Why cant they clean their own mess?

After America went to Iraq on the pretext of destroying chemical weapons and links with Al Qaeda, the Americans have destroyed the livelihood of Iraqis who lived better during the 'Saddam' days. With all the hardship they are undergoing, they are desperate and they would use all tactics to remove the invaders. Hussein, Nairobi, Kenya

As long ago as the 1970s the whites in Zimbabwe told the British what would happen in that country after independence. As usual, the British thought they knew best, better than the people who lived there. We are now seeing the same result, more disasters, happening again in Iraq. Bill, Johannesburg.

BBC, the US marines did the same thing in Afghanistan just recently. Why are they killing civilians? From Attah,Yola, Nigeria.

All war is ugly, chaotic & unfair for all. The difference is that this war is illegal & everyone is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The American soldiers are very wicked and brutish. I want any caught in the act to face the ultimate penalty. Anthony in Warri, Nigeria.

Seeking responsibility in individual combatants may not be the right approach. Instead, the authorities should look into the setup doctrines regarding field psych, engagement rules and strategy, and the training of these skills. But I'm afraid the authorities might well just like to seek blame on the low level front men. Those condemning will do worse when they face the same situation. Omorogbe, Nigeria.

Can I remind those who are heaping guilt to the two American pilots that incompatible communication systems used by British troops in theatre at the time made increased blue-on-blue margin for error.
Jim- london

Incidents of friendly fire and other misconduct are results of the wrong demographics in the armed forces, for example people forced there by poverty. These people are often not ideal, mentally. This whole discussion of small scale atrocities where few pople can be blamed is very destructive, however. It focuses on the unfortunate individual involved instead of politicians and policymakers and their huge, horrible atrocities, the real matter.
Anonymous from Iceland

Soldier are trained either to live or die. If they can not identify their enemy in a war, they should withdraw instead of killing unarmed civilians. Majid, Nigeria.

UntiI the bomb strikes, no one can tell who is the civilian & who are the terrorists. Therefore coalition troops are not to blame for deaths when defending themselves. From: Willie Benson, Barnersville, Liberia

Have we forgotten what Vietnam has taught us? Women and children are carrying weapons and bombs. Not to mention car bombs. Iraqis fight like cowards.

More then half a million peoples, according to media reports, have lost their lives in iraq. Were they all armed with weapons and died in combat? Surely not, is the obvious answer. Then who is responsible?Is it not the duty of coalition forces to provide security and safety to the peoples of iraq once the forces have taken over the control of the entire territory of iraq? ADNAN GILANI from Islamabad PAKISTAN .

In my opinion, it would be easier to drill thru glass to get to the oil than to waste any more time or American lives with this war.

Lubna in Iraq: Hi, US and UK forces behave with complete irresponsibility in iraq, They cut the major roads as they like, detain and murder people with cold blood, not caring if those murdered people were innocent or not, bottom line, they behave as if they owned my Iraq, as if Iraq was theirs, not ours.

I can't help thinking that if, instead of a US marine who had killed Iraqi civilians, it was an SS soldier killing suspected resistance fighters, he would have gone to Nuremburg and been hung as a war criminal.
Jones, USA

A few e-Mails from the US:

Doesn’t the American military boast to be the most technologically advanced and sophisticated military on the planet? Is not all this technology designed for ‘pin point’ attacks and ‘surgical strikes’? When American pilots and soldiers who cannot visually identify targets, where is all this technology to assist them?

Kelly, USA
Innocent people have been killed in EVERY war that has ever happened on this earth. How can we possible expect to have a war where this doesn't happen? It would be so much easier if the "bad guys" had some identifier so that only they were targeted. War is still nasty no matter what inventions come along that limit damage, people will still die. It's a horrible thing.

The Americans admitted that they made an error. What else did they need to know? They messed up, they were negligent, and this happens in every past war, and will happen in every war in the future. Will finding out the specific reason for the error bring back the dead soldier?

Not justifying the war, but to the caller in Iraq who says there's no freedom in Iraq since the invasion, I suppose he stayed home and didn't vote in the elections that put into power the first democratic elections in decades in Iraq. I'm sure there was more freedom when the ballot had only one option, "Saddam" in the past.
Steve, USA

I think that the best thing for America to do is to pull the military out of every country we are in and become an isolationist nation. Then we can look out and watch as all of the countries that are condeming us for our actions fall one by one to Islamic terrorists. Europe is well on its way and apparently wont be happy until they are all bowing down to allah.

America is the only one willing to step up to this global threat and should be congratulated.
Nick,Minnesota, USA

It's amazing to hear all these people that haven't served in the armed forces, have never had a weapon fired at them or been in a situation where people are trying to kill you speaking out against a trained soldier that performed his duty as trained.

We killed vastly more civilians in WW2 than we have done in Iraq. There were more civilian casualties in WW2 than military casualties, so I think James, your guest, is completely wrong. There were single bombing raids of Hamburg, Tokyo, etc that killed more people in a night than has happened in 4 years in Iraq. I don't see the Germans and Japanese hating us, not even a couple years after the wars had ended.
Steve, USA

Don has mailed in from Canada:

This is in regards to the soldier that participated in the slaughter of 23 Iraqis.
A person on your show mentioned it was a split decision and the marine took in shooting the men in the car after the IED exploded. He said if he hesitated he put his life at risk. He failed to mention it was a conscious decision for him and the other marines to then spend the next 20 minutes going house to house slaughtering civilians who posed no threat and fired no weapons. It was another Mai Lai plain and simple and the soldiers should be held accountable.
Ask that American how long he's lived with his head up his ass?
He mentioned the US only went in to Iraq to get rid of a dictator which means he is out of his mind.
He also mentioned the US has not unleash a huge amount of destructive force against Iraq. He is oblivious that American forces dropped more tons of bombs on Baghdad than that dropped on London during the entire WWII.
Don, Canada

Elton John in Trinidad and Tobago

Philip Isaac is the Archdeacon of Trinidad and Tobago: “It is not what god wanted for mankind. Mr. John is a human. Apart from his sexuality, God loves all the creatures he made. His sexuality, I am sure God does not condone. As to whether he comes to Trinidad and Tobago is neither here nor there to me.”

Rahul has asked Mr Isaac if he’ll be singing along with Elton: “I didn’t even intend going to the Jazz festival. It is not because of religious reasons.”

Ricardo Walsh hosts a call-in show on Power FM 101 in Trinidad : “I conducted a survey on my morning programme and the majority of the callers were annoyed by the comments made by the good reverend.”

An e-Mail from Adam:
I had coffee with a couple of homosexual men two nights ago and was not tempted to leave my wife and become homosexual. Therefore going to a concert by Elton John would likely not result in me abandoning my heterosexual lifestyle.

Lereiya Dare is in Jamaica: “I don’t have a problem with gays. It’s their choice. I know the bible speaks against it. In Jamaica they are against it.”

Stephen has e-Mailed in from Oregon: “I wish the Arch Deacon was correct, if only it were that easy to change a person’s sexual orientation by song, I might not still be a single gay male. The church should be more focused on building bridges versus tearing them down.”

Mathew has e-Mailed in from Nairobi:
The Arch Deacon is 100% right in the matter of Elton John.

Kurleigh and Willie have texted in:
Most Trinidadians don't actively discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. As a Trinidadian myself, I am embarrassed by this rank intolerance. Trinidad is neither monotheistic nor a theocracy.

For disallowing Elton John entry, I thank the Caribbean Arch-Deacon because such gay postures are unethical & immoral. Elton & his likes must realize that the sanctity of marriage rests with a man & a woman. From: Willie, Barnersville, Liberia

I think that the president has his own reasons for not allowing Elton John into his island. Homosexuality is a great sin against humans and God. The president is trying to stop the encouragement of homosexualism in his land.

What you do in your bedroom with who is your business. Making it public is what is crap. Jide Nigeria

It will be against human rights not to allow Elton into the Carribbean, but morally it'll be wrong if the church don't speak against his lifestyle. Karo, Nigeria.

The church's attitude to gay should tolerant, but totally forbid them from holding position in the church. From Simon, Freetown


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