Read through archived FRONTLINE/World
conversations around this story below.
Frank Bennett III - Ann Arbor, Michigan
I just happened to catch the story of Sarah (Chayes) in
Afghanistan. I was so moved by this woman and her strength
and determination. I was truly inspired and I think she's
doing a wonderful job and all of my prayers are with her.
Her strength motivates me to do something in my home town
of Detroit, Michigan, not Afghanistan, but close!!!
Patrick Shaw - Columbia, Kentucky
A late friend and her husband were aid workers in Afghanistan
when the Taliban came to power. Her words on Afghanistan
and her photographs of its women spoke to her passion for
that country and its people. Sarah Chayes' commitment to
what is at the very least a daunting task reassures me that
others continue the work they once carried out, and do so
with the same passion they had.
Alice McMullin - Sarasota, Florida
I missed the show, but fortunately caught the more timeless
version, and was spellbound. I have tremendous respect,
as a former journalist, and a world traveler, for Sarah,
and all international correspondents. They risk their lives
and become deeply involved in the peoples they live with/speak
for. Sarah took it so much further, and I greatly admire
her for her deep work towards peace and justice. She goes
there for all of us who want to make the bridge between
our so-different cultures, repairing the gouges of war,
and making peace on a personal level, at great personal
sacrifice. Hooray for Frontline, always a gripping show,
for spreading the real news that, as a wise peacemaker and
spiritual teacher once said, "Peace will come when we eat
together, pray together, and dance together."
Anonymous - Vancouver, Washington
Wonderful program. (I am) shocked at the selfishness of
(Haji) Baba for a few metres when so many others were homeless.
Is there any hope for Afghanistan when corrupt warlords
rule with no concern for their fellow citizens?
Wais Azami - Woodland Hills, California
Well, to help (the) Afghan people and Afghanistan, (the)
U.S. government should stop paying dollars to warlords and
the Afghan government. Spend the money directly to rebuild
Afghanistan and (to) educate people; send American construction
companies to work there with 75 billion dollars (and) we
can build two Afghanistans. Afghanistan's government is
corrupted. You cannot trust them.
Anonymous - Honolulu, Hawaii
It's all about her.
Sarah, not camera shy, offers a
hardy handshake to all, injects herself into conversations
mid-sentence, and physically blocks people if they are not
behaving as she wants them to behave. And she dresses like
a man and seems as happy as a rock star with all the attention
her odd appearance brings.
That is, she treats the Afghan culture
with contempt as she pursues her own personal pseudo-adventure.
She is tolerated -- as Haji Baba (a bit of a self-promoter
himself) notes -- only because she dangles dollars. Of course,
in time, she will go home and perhaps try her hand at a
book. Or appear on TV talk shows. And maybe even hit the
university lecture circuit, wow-ing googly-eyed coeds with
her Afghan tales.
This was a facile look at cronyism
and corruption, which is a human institution (not an Afghan
invention) that exists everywhere, including the U.S. where
well-connected companies (like Halliburton) roll in the
doe and big-wig campaign contributors slum in the White
House. Just another look-at-me story.
Thomas Fly - Spartanburg, South Carolina
This is an example of the kind of Frontline story that has
kept me a PBS addict. Afghanistan, for all of its ravages
and poverty, seems to have a strange magnetism that on occasion
attracts human riches--such as Sarah Chayes--and turns them
into serendipitous ambassadors.
Don McCrery - Sparta, Wisconsin
The U.S. should come down hard on warlords who are exploiting
their people. The war while ill advised to begin with is
an even greater travesty when we allow this interference
Anonymous - Macomb, Illinois
Great show. Simple, direct, powerful.
Stephen Nadler - Larkspur, Colorado
In a relatively short 20-25 minutes Sarah Chayes and Frontline
documented one of the core issues that must be resolved
- corruption by warlords. It was an elegantly simple and
I recommend the program be shown
to the Loya Jirga with the warlord present. The truth through
this type of journalism will win the peace far better than
Anonymous - Denver, Colorado
The program was riveting and timely.
Bailey Jepson - Pacific Palisades,
As Ollie said to Stan, "Here's another fine mess you've
gotten me into." Now that we're there, we've got nothing
less than the obligation to make good.
We're surely nearer the mark when
we speak of the Marshall Plan than when we speak of Crusade,
but we refer to the Marshall Plan and the 13 billion it
cost rather than the long-term benefits it provided. For
nearly a quarter century the U.S. had its own cheap labor
market for the production of low and medium quality goods
from manufacturing plants built in Japan as part of post
war reconstruction. So we should not only provide the Afghans
with houses, but transportation and industrial infrastructure
and whatever comes as close to full employment as may be
possible. This presupposes that the American wish to foster
consumer economics is a good. In any event, we'd better
see this thing through if for no other reason than "if you
save a person's life, you owe them forever," as the Chinese
say - the same Chinese who will own us if we fail.
Should this all seem too cynical,
interventionist, expensive and alarmist, consider the consequences
in one generation should things continue as they currently
Mark Tyler - Denver, Colorado
My impression of the story is that the former reporter,
as a kind of one-person NGO, operates as a bit of a dichotomy.
She, on a mission defined by a single person (her), works
without the politics of a larger institution (in fact, encountering
the red tape of other institutions). Her own personal reasons
taking the place of either political platforms or violence,
however, puts her in the same position as the warlords:
being among larger political structures in competition while
making her own decisions, most importantly about what is
right and wrong. I wonder how close her need to act will
extend toward being a permanent village member, and thus
in this context making the ultimate act. I also wonder where
she fits into the cycle of construction and destruction.
Today, the warlords have crisp uniforms for their troops
(money to burn on useless fashionable green ones for the
tan desert). Tomorrow, if they acquire a taste for weapons
with solid fuel and guidance systems (never mind the warheads),
the newly built houses may once again come down. What will
she do then? Ask Haji Baba if one wishes to know about the
cycle of war and renewal.
Vilnius Blekaitis - Wheaton, Maryland
As always, your most recent installment of Frontline/World
was astonishingly informative, moving and engrossing. I
went through withdrawal for a while when the regular Frontline
seemed to disappear, but now I am a convert.
Please keep up the good work--your
show demonstrates beyond all doubt that, contrary to what
one pundit has said, PBS is still relevant simply because
it provides the best programming available to curious viewers.
Yes, we should aid in the reconstruction
of Afghanistan, just as we should press Putin to prove he's
a democrat, because we have been the beneficiaries of a
democratic state and we should strive to ensure that nascent
and fragile democracies everywhere can lay down strong foundations
(Ms. Chayes' story is in a sense a metaphor for the struggles
that lie ahead for the Afghan people and for our obligations).
Our democracy was created brick by agonizing brick, with
many cracks and faults along the way, but our "house" is
pretty solid; now it is time to spend less on billion dollar
aircraft and more on assisting others in the construction
of their homes; in a few generations, with enough blood,
sweat and tears, perhaps our house will be part of a larger
Kudos again to reporters Sarah Chayes
and Sabrina Tavernise for a spellbinding hour of reportage.
Anonymous - Texas
Sarah is obnoxiously presumptuous and self-important. I
suspect she did more damage to the image of Americans among
Afghanistanis than any number of accidental bombings. The
program was really too embarrassing to watch.
Responding to Anonymous in Texas:
Anonymous - St. Cloud, Minnesota
This goes out to Anonymous in Texas... I can't believe
how obnoxious YOU sound. I could barely stand to read
your insults! That wonderful woman is a gift to the people
that she is involved with. Thank God for people such as
herself who risk their LIVES to help and inform others
about situations we would NEVER hear about otherwise.
It must hurt too much for you to hear the truth. You must
be a REPUBLICAN! That explains it!
Jessica A. Bruno - Ridgewood,
This was really good; I really loved it. I felt I got a
better understanding of Afghanistan now. Thank you. Keep
up the good work.
Jessica A. Bruno