The Rules of War

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photoThis week, a U.S. marine shot a wounded Iraqi prisoner in Fallujah, and an NBC reporter caught it on film. Now the video is being watched in homes thousands of miles away from where dead bodies are booby-trapped and shots burst from rubble.

While the iron-clad rules of war apply in the smashed streets of Fallujah, the line in the sand that soldiers are well trained not to cross is sometimes hard to find. In a battle where it's often impossible to tell if there's an AK-47 or a white flag underneath a billowing burqa, U.S. soldiers sometimes make bad decisions.

Hear an in depth look at the rules of war versus the realities on the ground in Iraq.


Scott Peterson, foreign correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor embedded with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines;

Gary Solis, law professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He served 26 years in the Marines, teaches a course on the Law of War and is author of Son Thang: An American War Crime and Marines and Military Law in Vietnam: Trial by Fire;

Michael Ignatieff, professor of human rights and director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. His essay "The Terrorist as Auteur" appeared in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. He is author of The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror and Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry;

Peter Dutton, professor of international law at the Naval War College. He formerly served as the Legal Advisor to the John F. Kennedy Battle Group, which comprised 19 ships and 15,000 personnel.

This program aired on November 17, 2004.