Talking Points: 4 February


Sri Lanka is one story we haven’t talked much about recently. The UN says at least 52 civilians have been killed in fighting between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Sri Lankan government have been condemned for refusing to guarantee the safety of civilians in certain areas. Similarly, Israel said it regretted civilian deaths in Gaza but continued with its attacks. Are civilians becoming less important in war? Is winning the war more important than protecting civilians?

Two weeks into his new role and President Obama has admitted he “screwed up” . Two politicians have been withdrawn from his administration following tax controversies. Did Mr. Obama need to admit his error in public? Is this the first sign of the President feeling the effects of too much public pressure?

Mr. Obama however is ploughing on, announcing a $5000 caps on banker salaries and launching arms reductions talks with Russia. But is he taking on too much too soon?

Facebook is five today. The social networking site has attracted 150 million active users over the years. Do Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites waste your time or have they changed your life for the better? Can you imagine life without these sites?

World Have Your Say will be coming to you from Place de la Republique in Paris today. Do join the team for the live show this evening between 1900 – 2000 if you are in the area.

18 Responses to “Talking Points: 4 February”

  1. 1 Barry Tait
    February 4, 2009 at 11:25

    Before we talk about civilian casualties, we should discuss the media’s reports about civilian casualties.

    Is there any chance that the BBC will actually report the UN back peddling furiously yesterday and saying that Israel in fact did not shell the school in Gaza? and that speculation over the deaths is growing?

    Will the BBC report the UN statements today about Hamas hijacking the aid from UN warehouses?

    The BBC instantly made it headline news on the site and news programme when the UN claimed Israel shelled the school – yet not a peep from the BBC to retract that story.

  2. February 4, 2009 at 11:42

    Obama’s problem is that he went to Washington looking for honest clean people to help run his message of change. But what he is finding is that you have a better chance of finding a divorce attorney in heaven then a “clean”, honest politician in Washington.

    So far he has managed not to promote, endorse, or mandated any policy that has gotten Americans killed or made us less safe. I can not say as much about the last guy, or any of his recent predecessors for that fact.

    The question is, using history as a guide, would the Bush administration and any of his cronies have dropped their bids to the cabinet positions over simply not paying taxes? I think not. And that in and of itself is a signal of things that have “changed”. The democrats have enough votes to get these people approved. They are not forcing them.

  3. 3 Nathan Xu- Hobart Australia
    February 4, 2009 at 12:17

    To the contrary, I don’t think civilians are less important at all. How many civilians were killed in WWII, Korean War, and even Vietnam war? I think it must be the media’s ability to report such stories. Death of 100 civilians would be nothing in a battle 20 years ago.

  4. 4 justin Mann
    February 4, 2009 at 13:00

    Civilians are an important factor in combat zones. organizations such as the LTTE, and Hammas, use Civilians in hopes of prevoking condemnination for the opposing government in hopes of starting a propaganda war.

  5. 5 David
    February 4, 2009 at 15:26

    Civilians have always been less important in war. The politicians call it collateral damage! Lo what is this word?

    Every one in a war is a loser. No one has ever won a war.

    Yes President Obama has admitted in public that he “screwed up” by recommending 2 politicians to his working group following tax controversies. You know what, because he is very honest with the people. Would Bush do the same!!? This admission has nothing to do with the President feeling the effects of too much public pressure. It has to do with honest and change.

    Mr. Obama however is ploughing on, announcing a $5000 caps on banker salaries and launching arms reductions talks with Russia. This has nothing to do with taking on too much too soon? This is called positive leadership.

    Let Mr Obama lead, may be he is the one to find the way out of the hole in sandy desert! May be he is the one who can safe America and help the rest of the world out of the mess we are in today.

  6. 6 Pasang Sherpa
    February 4, 2009 at 16:55

    well, frankly these sorts of things are part of any revolution. i am a maoist and i fought against the then government for 6 years. these things are inevitable! there won’t be any war without any blood shed! blood is a part of the war and without it, there is no existence of war! what we have to consider is “what will the future hold?” “is it for the better good?” etc…
    if it isn’t for a better good, it’s termed terrorism (like the tigers) and if it is, it’s called “revolution”
    so, the key point is “the common goal of everyone by far out-weights the casualties(civilian or not)”
    p.s be glad that the number didn’t exceed 100 if it had been a war like one we had in our country, it would have reached 1000 (and yet they will still be sacrifices for the better good)

  7. 7 Peter
    February 4, 2009 at 17:30

    During WW2 When the Japanese bomb Singapore all the British made their way to the shelter shutting the non Brits out. They were told to stay outside to watch the door, They ran away and live to tell the tale. Those who volunteer, to fight alongside the British were Given only knives they charge at the Invaders thinking the armed British soldiers were with them.
    The Brit retreated, a few live to tell the tale. Moral of the story. Civilians, get out of war zones, be smart.
    My father told me so.

    February 4, 2009 at 20:20

    i think that protecting civilians should be the main priority.Israel needs to understand that.Human beings are not bullets.

  9. 9 William
    February 5, 2009 at 00:21

    I think you can find a clean honest Politician in Washington, there one at least in President Obama. Its very easy to be cynical and snipe from the sidelines. Its such a generality to allege that all politicians are liars and dishonest, not least to say very offensive to the many good ones who flog their guts out for very little thanks.

  10. February 5, 2009 at 01:54

    So are we to accept that this is the way it is and accept it? If so how many civilians is considered acceptable? If is it acceptable to have casualties, is it ok to target them? What was so wrong with the holocaust if civilians casualties were necessary? if we define boundaries, what happens to those who are powerful and break them?

  11. 11 viola
    February 5, 2009 at 22:19

    The reality is that every war is different, fought with different weapons and tactics. The trick is figuring out how to fight a current war, not count on the weapons and tactics of past successful wars. After all, in any war, everyone is seeking the advantage. Thus, if a war is one in which the tactic of using civilians as shields and disposable pawns in both the shooting part of the war and in the propaganda part of the war is employed, the other side must find some way to counteract that tactic. For example, it was reported that Israel warned civilians when an area was about to be attacked in Gaza.

    Reality is tough. It is, nevertheless, necessary to figure out what it is. We all know what we want it to be: sweetness and light and everyone loving and respecting everyone else. We can strive for those while keeping a sharp eye on what is actually happening and demanding the same from our journalists and analysts.

    Reporting incendiary comments by passionate, probably ill-informed and prejudiced people is a good way to stir people up but does little to promote the aforementioned sweetness and light and everyone loving and respecting everyone else.

    Thanks for letting me spout off.

  12. 12 Emile Barre
    February 7, 2009 at 12:32

    If a war as long and as small as this one cannot be solved, what chance for the bigger variety?

  13. 13 SRILANKAN
    February 8, 2009 at 20:31

    It is unfortunate that Srilankan Government thinks Protecting civillian is least important than winning the war It is shame that defence secretary of Srilanka came on the BBC and said boming Hospital is justifiable,I do not know where the world is going ,at the end of the war ,will there be tamil race,The civillians who cross the line is detained in camps and no one is allowed to see then not even red cross or white cross, what a shame to democracy,may the mighty BUDHA help Sri Lanka.
    It is shame to say I am Srilankan.

  14. 14 Satheejan Gugananthan
    February 10, 2009 at 05:04

    When we talk about Sri Lanka, it is unfortunate there is no neutral media to report on what is happening there. It is evident that Sri Lanka is committing a genocide. How? Well the government still maintains that there is zero casualties. This will become true in 5/10/20 years if the international community doesn’t act. The lives lost during this military aggression will be forgotten with the Sri Lankan government trying to hide the facts. The first step in doing this is the removal of free media and NGOs. Media must be allowed into the war zone to report on the issues and in order to do so, an internationally brokered peace talk must be brought forward. With Sri Lanka rejecting this call by the international community, Sri Lanka must face heavy scrutiny to bring about a ceasefire.

  15. 15 Menan V
    February 10, 2009 at 18:06

    Srilankan government never agrees to go to ceasefire and there is no media freedom. The president doesn’t care about the civilians casualties other than winning the war. and the world doesn’t seem to be noticing that too.

  16. 16 ~Dennis Junior~
    February 10, 2009 at 18:18

    Are civilians becoming less important in war? Yes, But that’s sad and also part of life in reality!

    Is winning the war more important than protecting civilians?Yes, that is the harder part of a war
    Did Mr. Obama need to admit his error in public? Yes! Is this the first sign of the President feeling the effects of too much public pressure? Not really….
    But is he taking on too much too soon?
    Yes, President Obama is taking on too much too soon….
    Do Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites waste your time or have they changed your life for the better? Yes… Can you imagine life without these sites? Pretty much no…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  17. 17 Thamarai
    February 10, 2009 at 20:55

    The blind eyes of international countries toward Sri Lankan ethnic conflict have
    put innocent civilians life in jeopardy. I think it is time that the UN start taking responsibility for its role. The purpose of the UN creation is demolished by the UN leaders itself. Death tolls rises to thousands already in Sri Lanka within few week.
    All Tamil community around the world brought the humanitarian crisis to their related governments. But did the world took any action? Did the government listen their citizens? NO.It is time for the UN and the other world to open their doors to these crying small minority…this could be the starting point to put civilians first than the so called war.

  18. 18 Ramana S
    February 11, 2009 at 22:24

    the sri lankan government doesnt want to end the war, instead all they want to do is wipe out as many tamil civilians and tigers as they can. The goverment wants to live in a country without any tamil ppl because they resent our people. All they want to do is wipe us out from the face of the earth. what the government is doing is quite dispicable. the UN and other countries should put a stop to what the government is doing before everyone is killed because more and more hospitals will be bombed and more innocents will be killed if there is no one that can stop the sri lankan gov.

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