I wonder whether you fellows could help me out........... I'm currently engaged in a long running 'debate' (an elastic term under the circumstances) with a liberal halfwit who is advancing the theory that there is a moral equivalency between British soldiers and Islamic insurgents in Iraq (ie: She believes that they are soldiers just as juch as members of the British Army). I enclose the text of my provisional response to her preposterous thesis. What would you add? What are the definitive charachteristics and legal traits that seperate soldiers from terrorists/paramilitaries? Many thanks. They are NOT soldiers fighting a war. They do not belong to the armed forces of any recognised country. They do not act on behalf of any recognised state that has declared war on either the United States of America or any of the countries in which they have been detained. They do not have the same rights as soldiers for that reason Let's pretend that a 19 year old man from St Albans decides to join the British Army. After basic training he joins his regiment which happens to be deploying on a 6 month tour in Basra. He is being sent as part of a British Army unit under the authority of the democratically elected government of the United Kingdom who have decided (rightly or wrongly) to commit British forces to Iraq. The British contingent in common with the other members of the multinational coalition are there with the express permission of a democratically elected Iraqi government and are operating by this stage under a United Nations mandate. Meanwhile in Manchester another 19 year old is making plans to go to Iraq too. This man is a Muslim, increasingly disenchanted with life in the UK, finding the core tenets of his faith incompatible with what he perceives as the decadent ways of a secular country he has sought solace in his religion. Over recent years he has come to subscribe to a radical version of Islam, infuriated by US and British foreign policy he decides to travel to Jordan and make his way from there to Iraq where he plans to join a Sunni insurgent group. His dearest wish is to kill as many Western soldiers as possible and help to make Iraq ungovernable. He has not been invited in by the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people do not want foreign insurgents compounding their problems with indiscriminate attacks that invariably kill more civilians than military personnel. More than anything else they resent the fact that these foreign Jihadists have sparked a vicious sectarian war between Sunni, Shia, Kurds and the tiny Christian minority. But, he doesn't care about that, he sees Iraq as the frontline in a religious war between the Islamic 'street' and the infidel West. Do you honestly believe that he is as much a soldier as the 19 year old private from St Albans? If you do, then you really should stopping reading The Guardian..............and using public transport in London.