Frontline World


Nigeria, The Road North



Read through archived FRONTLINE/World conversations around "Dispatches from a Small Planet: Election 2004," including responses from the reporters.

Reactions to "Dispatches from a Small Planet: Election 2004"
Visit the site

Anonymous - Whittier, California
This site is so damn cool.

Roxanne Andrieux - Pasadena, California
Please keep up the good work. Don't stop "Dispatches from a Small Planet". Thank you.

Anonymous - Austin, Texas
FRONTLINE/World has really been a God-send to me. I am very interested in knowing what the world is thinking, politically, socially and literally, and your "young" reporters out in the world are doing a marvelous job. I have had nothing but serious interest while reading each and every one of your articles -- they are all so fascinating...

Anonymous - Michigan
Thank you for the only really honest discourse throughout the campaign. I can only hope that enough people have tuned in to make a difference today.

John Davenport
Thank you and thank you for a program and website where one can see the world from a true perspective. This is becoming rarer all the time.

Michael Hooper - St. James, Missouri
The world is a little less scary because of PBS. Excellent story. Thanks.

Vojislave Spasic - Broadview Heights, Ohio
Absolutely, great, educational and factual report.

Shane Easter - Seattle, Washington
Delicious, I appreciate you giving light to an important issue which will probably be ignored in the presidential election.

Anonymous - Prattville, Alabama
Very interesting. There are so many parts of the world that you hear next to nothing about on commercial television's news reports. Without programs like this how are we supposed to be informed voting public? Thanks.

Lydia - Wisconsin
I know you probably get a lot of people's ideas, but I personally would like to hear another story on gay marriage, maybe from a different country. It would be interesting to see if it is as much of an issue there as it here. Just a thought. Thank you so much for what you do I love it all and am happy to watch and support.

David Murray - Cedarville, Michigan
This is a much-needed program that should be provided in all schools let alone homes. A perspective from other countries helps us see and know ourselves better. Thank you for doing this.

Anonymous - Orlando, Florida
I want to thank PBS for it's wonderful coverage and vantage point on the world view of America, in the upcoming election.

However, I find one thing lacking in ALL of the news media coverage of our candidates. The candidates themselves...... Each night I watch as station after station, plays 30-second sound bites of the candidates speeches and then follow this drip, with hour after hour of opinions of the media and it's guest speakers.

We need to form our own opinions!!!!! Please set aside an hour each day or more, and run THE ENTIRE speech, made that day in campaigning, of each candidate. Let us judge. (...) Leave the Left/Right banter to the networks who use the term "News" to present entertainment for themselves.

Ted Boone - Pittsburg, California
This coverage is much more neutral than I would expect from either PBS or the University of California Graduate School of Journalism. Thank you!

Jackie Steincampa - Christchurch, New Zealand
New Zealanders of all descriptions, all backgrounds, LOATHE the Bush Administration. We are FEARFUL of U.S. policies. Many say they will not visit the U.S. till BU.S.H GOES.

Anonymous - Sparks, Nevada
President Bush's ignorance is mandatory in order to play his "role" as front man for special interest's and political intolerance. He is the rubber stamp that Dick Cheney and Karl Rove hide behind as they pursue failed policies built on outright lies. I pray that John Kerry will restore honor to the office and to this great nation.

George Kuhn - Concordia, Missouri
I am a partisan Democrat who believes that the Bush administration is destroying the American republic. Bush's arrogance based on ignorance is embarrassing, but it is also frightening. A nightmare.

Anonymous - Edison, New Jersey
What is most surprising in these debates and how media is handling this, is the sheer absence of grilling the U.S. leadership, from both parties, on its foreign policy over the last few decades. Clearly, the policy is based on self-interest and rarely on principle. I hope someone from the media has the guts to question the U.S. politicians on whether they will apologize to people of countries where they supported dictatorial leaders (Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan et al). The hypocrisy of the U.S. foreign policy is so evident in how it ignores the popular voice in countries that do not toe its line. And yes, the fact that you can still find half the Americans supporting Bush, despite the empirical evidence, is appalling.

Charles Hubbard - Green Bay, Wisconsin
I have three questions that I would like all Republicans, or undecided voters, to ask themselves before they go vote.

  1. How will the U.S. ever pay off such a large, growing debt while spending at even a fraction of the current administrations rate?
  2. Where are we going to find the people willing to replenish the armed forces in Iraq, and everywhere else we are, including the wars yet to be fought?
  3. Which candidate is more likely to achieve new alliances with other larger countries, and build U.S. integrity and faith with the Muslims of the world? This election is more important than most realize. Please think globally before voting locally.

Joyce Payne - Aistom, Texas
I am a citizen of the U.S. before I am a Democrat and I see Bush and his group as a manipulator that has caused the world community to hate Americans...Never in our history has a President done so much damage world wide. I fear for the future of my children and grandchildren.

Ruth MacGill - Boulevard, California
I totally agree with you. I was a Republican for over 50 years until I suddenly realized how far off the Republican have strayed to the right. They no longer represent my values.

Anonymous - Hacienda Heights, California
Your Election 2004 coverage is too liberal. I'm very disappointed that you don't show what's right with Bush. Bush has a mission. He may not be popular because he's doing the right thing, & he refused to give in to what other people think. Sometimes when you're doing the right thing, people will hate you just as people hated Jesus in the Biblical times.

Anonymous - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The vote tonight has made the world a much scarier place. I am so disappointed in this American election. Undoubtedly the impact will be felt by the world.

Reactions to the question: "Should Americans care what the rest of the world thinks of Bush and Kerry?"

Cecile Batchelor - Montreal, Canada
Regrettably, Americans ARE ignorant of most that goes on in other countries around the world. I do not watch American news if I want factual information. BBC is always my choice, online as well. Frontline IS exceptional and I always watch it! Thank you for your excellent and TRUTHFUL coverage.

Anonymous - Orange, California
Here is my opinion. I was in the Marines for 27 years and saw combat action in Vietnam and Korea. I was involved in the taking of Seoul and the defense of Khe Sahn in Vietnam. There is an old saying, but true still, there is nothing that compares to moral or battle success. Bush won based on his overall character and in what he believed... As for terrorism, the U.S. will prevail in Iraq and establish a democracy of some sort there. South Korea is now a thriving, vibrant country because Truman took decisive action in Korea. Sooner or later, North Korea will be thriving and vibrant similar to South Korea. Winning militarily in Iraq is not in question. We will win militarily...this will be no Vietnam. The basic problem are the Muslim fanatics, which will take some time to change, because the bulk of peace loving Muslims will eventually speak out against terrorism. With success in Iraq, we will prevail diplomatically in Syria and Iran and establish peaceful relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians--which has been expedited by the passing of Arafat. Yes, it would help to have the support of France and Germany in our war against terror. When our success is complete in Iraq to the point it is obvious, the population of France, Germany and Italy will change their attitudes. Success begets success. Over time, the Bush's approach to defeat terrorism will be successful and will prevail. In the meantime, I really don't care about what other countries think. Eventually, when the dirty work is done they will again join us...

Victor Davis - Napa, California
The November election results seem to indicate that many Americans choose to disregard the precipitous slide in how we are perceived by much of the world. I can't believe that those who voted Bush back into office think international relations are all that important. We've had large isolationist movements going back at least a century, both before and after World War I and right up until America entered the Second World War....What may be the latest incarnation of American isolationism stems from our being the only superpower currently on the planet: this country feels it can act with impunity on the international stage and insulate itself from taking world opinion into account. At present we have an aggression-based foreign policy combined with American citizens willing to put their faith in a leader to do whatever he feels necessary to protect them, no matter what the possible (and dire) long-term consequences to ourselves and the rest of the world. Of course national security is very important, but there have to be ways to achieve this that don't alienate us from the rest of the planet. I have to be optimistic and believe that, in time, we can become better stewards of the great power we wield as a nation.

Fred Penar - North Fort Myers, Florida
Why should we care what the world thinks? Americans make their own decisions based on their own interests. Would French or Russian voters base their election decisions what Americans think? None of them know enough about what goes on in our country to have their opinion matter. Nor are they stakeholders in any sense.

The U.S. is the strongest country in the world -- in terms of personal freedom, economy, and military.

The rest of the world should care what we think, and try to apply our successful principles to themselves.

Gary Pearlz - Portland, Oregon
We should care, for selfish reasons if none other. We live in the same world as the 95% of humans who are not Americans. We depend on each other for trade, travel and educational opportunities. And, as a lecturer I heard after 9/11 explained, "These terrorist acts will stop when Americans start to care about the lives of people in other countries as much as they care about their own."

Ramana Popuri - Seattle, Washington
Yes, America should care, because 90% of those "outsiders" care about America.... The simple fact is that America can change the world even without firing a single shot - it has that enormous economic and military influence. By alienating the people who admire America, she is losing friends, and friends are what count in times of trouble. God forbid, but who knows when America might be in trouble in future, and might have to look at the same countries it pushed aside arrogantly. The whole world was not an idiot when they advised America to not go to war in Iraq -- it was for America's own good. Now, American admirers can only lament and look with deep nervousness at the rise in popularity of American haters in their countries. There was a time, when it could be said "Democracy works! Just look at America...". But now, it appears Americans are the worst aristocracy in the world: a Bush aristocracy.

Anonymous - San Francisco, California
Of course we should care what the rest of the world thinks, not only of the election and the two candidates, but also of our conduct in the world. All eyes are on us as our behavior and policies impact people the world over. Unfortunately most Americans are so ignorant of other cultures, peoples and languages that they cannot see ourselves as others see us. Such provincialism has unwittingly caused the rest of the world to view us as arrogant, self-righteous and patronizing. It is truly a pity.

Donna Oberholtzer - Washington, D. C.
Not to care what the rest of the world thinks of Bush and Kerry is to remain arrogant, ignorant, righteous, shameless, alone, and weak.

Anonymous - Eufaula, Oklahoma
With hours of discussion taking place I find it frustrating that the mention of solutions by the so-called third parties are all but non-existent. Especially the largest of third parties, the Libertarians. It seems any mention of solutions derived from application of Constitutional government principals is strictly forbidden. It seems we can only have these very narrow debates (if they can be called debates at all). How far have we come from the Constitutional Republic? Now that would be a discussion.

Anonymous - Chicago, Illinois
I am European, but an American at heart. I love the U.S., where I was educated, as much as I love my own country. I am appalled at how ignorant and arrogant President Bush is portraying United States. I think Americans deserve better. I think the world deserves better. Americans should be more cautious at choosing their president, because he will not only lead United States, he will lead the world, too. From my point of view, arrogance and stubbornness will only lead to a third world catastrophe. Good luck to us all!

Reactions to GREENLAND: "Colin Powell's Glacier"
Visit the site

Robert LaRue - Lincoln, New Mexico
Like most Americans, I know little about Greenland and our involvement there. Ms. Mahr's very readable account, rich in detail and colorfully presented, was a welcome insight into the situation. It would be interesting to know how many other small places in the world owe a good part of their existence to the U.S. dollar.

Reactions to GERMANY: "Watching the Presidential Debate With Arabs in Berlin"
Visit the site

Jeff Poss - Forest Park, Illinois
When the Arab sitting beside Orville Schell leaned over and whispered, "Are you embarrassed by him?" my answer would have been, "Yes, I am embarrassed by Bush." The major mistake Bush made was the war in Iraq. We have never had an aggressive war monger president like this before and his excuse is always 9/11. Terrorism has been around since the 1970's. He just can't admit that he dropped the ball on 9/11. Clinton warned him about 9/11. We could have started a national healthcare program like Canada instead of this war in Iraq for 200 billion dollars.

Jack Glezen - Richford, New York
Spoken like a true internationalist! Who cares what the rest of the world thinks! We help them and would think they'd help us? No, they're all on the take (Oil-for-food). And, we thought we had allies. Quit blaming America first and defend her...

Patrick Carano - Tallmadge, Ohio
As an American , I too am embarrassed by this President. What embarrasses me even more is half the population of this country willing to vote Bush back in office. We look like fools to the international community, and they may just be correct. Our country led the fight to free Europe from the holds of the Third Reich and communism based on ideals and we have thrown it all out the window in four years. What does this say about Americans?

Chris Pochyly - Orland Park, Illinois
Thank you for your column. I think the comments made by the individuals in your interview reflect the mood of a lot of Americans who are struggling with their own, seemingly, "common sense" conclusions about the war in Iraq and our place in the world. Daily we wade through the spin of candidates who posture to try and put these events into perspective for us to achieve a political result. Sometimes what seems unclear when candidates spin and misrepresent is very clear when you are removed from the situation -- like your guests -- who can offer an honest perspective. What every American needs to do is to commit to themselves not to take the opinions and rhetoric of politicians and biased news media, and to inform themselves and come to their own, personal conclusions about the situation. There are so many times where we fail to take advantage of our democratic principles to truly use our individual voice and end up simply being a nation of followers. Your column, devoid of political influence, is one source to help us make our OWN informed decisions. Thank you.

Janet Lazar - Morris Plains, New Jersey
Before reading Orville Schell's column I believed that America would never regain a favorable position in the global community if Bush was re-elected. After reading the column I am more convinced than ever. As an American I am also embarrassed realizing that many of the world's population view W as an incompetent leader. My fellow Americans...please wake up.

Gordon Estabrook - Sharon, New Hampshire
Thank you for providing this. My personal biggest issue is the image and reputation that the U.S. has in the world. This article made a big difference in helping me make an evaluation. While I also do not understand Islam very well, I have at least made the attempt by attending discussion groups and reading what I can about the religion and explanations of the Koran. Perhaps our president should do the same.

Gene Shaw - Jamestown, North Carolina
Why don't you see that this excellent article gets better distribution in the States? What this man says should be quite obvious. However, it is not so to the average American. It would be nice if this could get some widespread attention in the next two weeks. Good luck and God help us all if this fool gets re-elected.

Anonymous - Seattle, Washington
I just read Orville Schell's article on watching the presidential debate in Berlin and I found myself nodding as I read the comments from the Arabs who were also watching the debates... As an increasingly cynical young voter, I feel the same dismay and frustration. I feel outrage that the "powers that be" feel no obligation to explain our changing alliances without the usual slippery circumlocution. First Saddam had support, then opposition, then... Yet here we are. When I travel abroad I feel defenseless against criticisms of Americans. Most of what I hear is dead-on. We are the biggest military force in the world and seem to have few compunctions about interceding in other countries that have not asked for political or military aid. And to whose benefit? I think it's fairly undisputed that Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, but while U.S. intervention has removed Saddam, it certainly hasn't left Iraq better off. Now there is a shaky interim government, warring tribal leaders, military occupation, volatile citizens, and even more vigilant extremist groups. Frankly, I don't think it would be so horrible if our policies were put to a global test. We flouted the UN's stand against the war in Iraq; it doesn't surprise me that we've lost foreign credibility. I think that having the international label of "ignorant bully" makes us an easy and justified target for terrorists--not something I'd like to encourage. John Kerry may have a history as a waffler, but he doesn't seem to be an extremist the way Bush is. I think his much-made-of stance against Vietnam actually proves this--he knows from having actually served in Vietnam that foreign intervention may not always be the right answer. I don't mind a little hesitance in my President, especially in dealing with people outside our borders.

Tom McKone - Fort Worth, Texas
The article from Orville Schell reinforced some of my concerns about this president. It allowed me to believe that it is not too late for us to correct some of the mistakes we have made. Some Europeans and Arabs still do believe in us and think that these four years are just an aberration that will be straightened out in the next presidency. When President Bush was voted in the first time, he was an unknown quantity. But now we do know him. If he gets voted in a second time, then the world will know that it is not just the president but the people of America that are out of touch and are allowing their fears to dictate foreign policy.

When it comes to Iraq most of the world knows that Saddam had to go eventually. Saddam was, and still is, an evil person that had to be removed from power. What the president failed to do, unlike his father, was respect the impact the removal of Saddam would have on the rest of the world but most importantly the vacuum of power it would create in the Middle East. He was called upon to give reasonable and persuasive arguments for Saddam's removal but he did not. He was very cavalier in his comments and attitude. He was very cavalier with the lives that would be affected by such a war. He was very cavalier with our allies and friends. These are not the marks of a great man. What we needed was statesmanship. It is statesmanship we so desperately need right now.

Anonymous - Santa Barbara, California
I have read this article with disbelief. After spending 20+ years working in the Middle East, I find it quite interesting that the Saudi businessmen could say something against our country! But if he [the reporter] said something derogatory about Saudi Arabia or the Royal Family, he would probably "disappear" within a short time (as so many have!). What about a country where it is an "illegal act" to carry a Bible and shades must be drawn tight on American compounds so Christmas lights on trees can't be seen from the street, but terrorism is supported and openly discussed! I suggest you talk to people who have lived and worked in the Middle East!

Reactions to EL SALVADOR: "Payback"
Visit the site

Howard Zinn - Cambridge, Massachusetts
I've just read Joe Rubin's report on El Salvador. I was enormously impressed with his piece -- full of important information, very well written, and for someone like myself, who has not kept up with El Salvador events since the civil war of the '80s, a wonderful summary of where things stand now, politically -- as well as giving a feel for what it's like in the streets. Rubin is bold and blunt in pointing out the U.S. role, both past and present. I hope this report gets wide circulation.

Editor's Note: Historian Howard Zinn is the author of the bestselling "A People's History of the United States."

Austin Paulnack - Syracuse, New York
I remember well the assassination of Bishop Romero and the later killings of several Jesuits, some of them from Syracuse's LeMoyne College. Some of us felt powerless to help El Salvador while protesting the U.S. policy there. In 2001, in the wake of the Salvador earthquakes and as easy way to help, I got El Salvador Fair Trade Certified (living-wage) coffee introduced into Syracuse; now Salvador Fair Trade coffee is used at many Central NY/Syracuse churches, restaurants, coffeeshops, hospitals and also Syracuse University (cup every of Fair Trade coffee remits 5 cents to the coffee farmers and their clinic and school). In addition, Syracuse's La Estancia sister-city group continues to help promote peace and justice and economic development in El Salvador.

FRONTLINE/World editors respond:
Dear Mr. Paulnack, Thanks for writing. You may be interested in watching the story we did about fair trade coffee in Guatemala and Mexico. You can see it here.

Hector Vides - San Salvador, El Salvador
Excellent work. I'm very interested in this.

Analivia Suchman - San Francisco, California
Perhaps most disturbing about Mr. Rubin's finely-wrought piece surrounds El Salvador's (largely) ARENA-controlled media. While a city can provide a venue for collective memory, such as the commemoration in Aceituno, such gatherings cannot compete against the daily messages of television, radio & newspapers; all vehicles for an ARENA refusal to collectively recognize the past as Salvanorenos. Perhaps El Salvador can learn from Germany, whose public remembrance/acknowledgement of its own atrocities can be a device that unites a nation and assists in healing the wounds of war.

Anonymous - Panama
The coalition in Iraq clearly should be called the "coalition of the Payback", as Rubin adequately shows. Negroponte's involvement in Central America should NEVER be forgotten and should have been more deeply researched since he now has such a preeminent post as ambassador to Iraq.

An excellent report.

Reactions to CANADA: "Border Town"
Visit the site

André Vaillancourt - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Your article is very well-written. It really describes how things are in the Stanstead area and in Canada and Québec as a whole when it comes to the question of health care. However, there is one thing that has to be set straight.

The name of the political party that was (and still is) active in Québec in the '70s is the "Parti Québécois".

The Bloc Québécois was founded later and that party is active as a Canadian Party only and its members are elected to serve in the Federal Government in Ottawa. The Bloc Québécois is not really viewed as a conservative party. I would say it's a party that stands to the center of the political world, with an open mind to the ideas that are coming from the left.

And, like a lot of people living outside the U.S., I really like the American people and the U.S.A. Because of that, I wish that President Bush is not re-elected.

FRONTLINE/World correspondent Meghan Laslocky responds:
Thank you to those who corrected my conflation of the Bloc Québécois and the Parti Québécois. I received several "reacts" setting me straight, and I regret the error.

Anonymous - Toronto, Ontario
Excellent Oct 5 articles by Meghan Laslocky. The recent state of affairs in the U.S. marks the first true scare I have had in 43 years of life. Primarily an optimist, I am forced to realize that the darkest of history is repeating. As a Canadian, if I were able to make one comment to Bush, it would be reduced to this - "Knock it off, or you're going to get us all killed." To the unsuspecting citizens of the U.S., I would say, "It's a shame you don't have access to a broader, more factually informative source of television information, (apart, of course, from PBS)." The Oct 17 airing of our CBC's 'Passionate Eye' is one of our country's latest reporting on the state of George W. Bush's "union." Very scary, indeed.

Ryan Cuthbert - Toronto, Ontario
As a Canadian accustomed to American ignorance, I would like to commend the author of this article. It was thoughtful, articulate and needed.

Cecile Batchelor - Montreal, Canada
One word: EXCELLENT!!

Mick Teeters - Cincinnati, Ohio
Bush's war on drugs is a war against the average college kid. Many Americans have tried marijuana and never had any detrimental effects. Marijuana use is at an all time high in the U.S. Trying people for private use is a waste of tax payers' money. Keeping it illegal creates an illegal market. I have never seen anyone hurt or addicted to pot. I do know that hundreds die from drunk drivers every year.

Anonymous - Burlington, Vermont
Meghan Laslocky has shown a little too much bias for the Canadian way. The medical program in Canada has left many doctors unmotivated and uncaring about patient care, especially the primary care physicians who the government does not pay anywhere near what is the pay in the US. And the drug prices are fixed so that the pharmaceutical industry is unable to make enough money to develop new medications. Canadian medicine will continue to fall behind because the government thinks that by controlling everything they are providing a service, but as usual with politicians, it is extremely short-sighted so they can get a popular vote.

Reactions to CHAD/SUDAN: "A Question of Genocide"
Visit the site

Thomas Jordan - Poulsbo, Washington
How can I help financially? I'm not rich but I want to send what I can to help with the efforts in the Sudan. Who or what organization do I give to? I just read about a United Nations scandal in the middle east so I'm leery of giving money to them. But if they're the only one's in the region, then I will.

FRONTLINE/World responds:
Thank you for your email. While FRONTLINE/World does not have a relationship with particular humanitarian relief organizations and cannot vouch for their spending, we suggest that you explore UNICEF, a well-established organization that is working with other entities to help Sudanese refugees. We'll post additional suggestions as well.

Shirley Lim - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The mass media coverage about Darfur crisis is way lacking. Most of my friends have no idea what is going on because they hardly read the newspaper, etc. If these were the scenario of Americans or British or any whites being slaughtered, things would be different.

Jeff Carden - Madison, Wisconsin
Why is this story only an online report? The only way this genocide will stop, is if people of the western nations force their governments to provide the necessary military protection to protect Afro-Sudanese in Darfur. Images have the power to foment action. The story has to presented in a venue where people will see it and with images that convey a reality that's can't be recognized with just words. It's hard for people to imagine that these acts of violence are possible, they don't want to believe it. The only way to convince them is to show the images. The words used to describe these actions all become euphemisms compared to what's really happening. Terms like genocide and humanitarian crisis aren't going to foment support to stop the violence, images can. Hundreds of thousands of people's lives are at stake and frontline is broadcasting stories on world perception on the 2004 election. Time is critical, what good does it do to publish an amazing investigative report like the one frontline produced about how the west failed to act during the Rwandan genocide years after the fact, it's going to be too late if you don't act know.

FRONTLINE/World responds:
We agree that the crisis in Darfur demands the world's attention, which is why we published Amy Costello's story on the FRONTLINE/World Web site, which is reaching a growing audience. We were pleased to see 60 Minutes air a story about Darfur on October 10, and we have just commissioned a story for our own television series, which is set to return to the air in January. It is not easy raising the funds to keep FRONTLINE/World going, but we are dedicated to doing this kind of reporting.

Anonymous - San Francisco, CA
I feel really bad for the people in Sudan. There are 50,000 fewer people now than 18 months ago. Janjaweed ride on horseback and camal and target black farmers, kill men, and rape woman. Some 180,000 Sundanese are so afraid of the janjaweed they fled there own country and found safety in Chad. I also really felt bad for the kids in the UN camps. Something that really caught my attention was that many of the kids died were under 5 years old. They were dying from diarrhea that was caused from drinking unsafe water and unsanitary living conditions. Lastly I agree with Senator Kerry that we need to help out over there because it seems their country really needs some direction.

Carla Snook - Cocoa, Florida
I am appalled. This is not on the news in the U.S. It appears another Rwanda HAS happened. I will speak out to everyone I can; and also to my elected officials about this matter. I am saddened.

Anonymous - Westport, New York
The only thing I can think reading of these unfortunate atrocities and the conditions these people are forced to live in, is how I can help. How can I help? If only our government thought along the same lines, as they are in a place to actually provide this help.

Virginia Carlson - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The situation in Sudan is totally beyond my comprehension and ability to rationalize in any way, except to say that reading "Holy War, Inc." (Peter Bergen) made me realize how hateful Osama bin Laden is. How he can possibly believe that Allah condones his actions is also so far beyond my ken that it's impossible for me to deal with. If Holy War this is, what will the outcome be? I am a Christian asking this question in all sincerity.

Kati Griffith - Bonita Springs, Florida
The reason I read this article is that Amy Costello is the daughter of a dear friend of mine. When I lived in Chicago, I would occasionally hear her on PBS, but your program is not broadcast in SW Florida, unfortunately. I am pleased that at least I can get this kind of information on the internet.

The story makes me infinitely sad and afraid that nothing will be done. We go from one genocide to another and rarely do any governments interfere. The Bush administration is obviously not interested; they just want to get re-elected. One feels so hopeless. As a person who experienced the horrors of WWII as a child, I had hoped that we would learn from history. Obviously not only have we not learned, but we haven't even learned to care.

Anonymous - Austin, Texas
It is now even more apparent how senseless our "war" in Iraq is for us Americans and the world, because of the fact that so many of our forces could be put to so much more better use in Sudan in order to stop the genocide that is going on there. Now, as things stand in the world and in the U.S. being the free leader, we cannot even help out with the cause of fighting this genocide thanks to our dwindling forces being used in Iraq. Bush was so wrong to go to war in Iraq, and this is just another nail in his coffin of political victory as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous - Arlington, Texas
Now that our Secretary of State has labeled the crisis in Darfur as genocide, we (the U.S.A.) should act.

Our President says Christ changed his life. Well, Christ said "As you have done it unto me you have done it unto the least of these, my brothers...and as you have not done it unto me, you have not done it unto the least of these." And the people being attacked in the Darfur Region by the Janjaweed on behalf of the Sudanese government are largely Christian, if the reports that have been coming out of Sudan from Christian NGO's are correct. So let's pull a brigade or two that have experience in humanitarian relief out of Iraq and send them to Eastern Chad. Let's use the techniques the 1st Marine Division used in their sprint to Baghdad to deliver water and food to the refugees. C130's and Chinook helicopters can carry a lot of bottled water and emergency rations, and they can land on hastily improvised landing areas.

Sarah Rimmington - New York, New York
As someone who spent the summer working for Catholic Relief Services (which funds and oversees the SECADEV refugee camps in Eastern Chad), I just wanted to point out that to characterize the Sudanese refugees as "black Africans" and the janjaweed as "Arab nomads" is somewhat misleading and simplistic. ALL of these people are indigenous Africans, and most if not all are Muslim. In general, however, those who are affiliated with the regime in Khartoum are considered "Arab" and the rebels and the people who live in the Darfur are called "black Africans". But these characterizations don't help us understand the root of the conflict, and can lead to dangerous conclusions and incorrect perceptions of these events. The real risk, in my view, is that they will accidentally fuel anti-Arab or anti-Muslim sentiments even more than they are already... which is a dangerous thing to do in this day and age. Please refer to Mahmood Madmani's book "Good Muslim, Bad Muslim" or better yet, contact him via Columbia University (Dept. of Anthropology or School of International and Public Affairs) if you wish to seek further information-guidance on this issue.

Molly Winters - Miami, Florida
The atrocities that the Sudanese government has committed against its citizens are truly disheartening, and I feel that the international community needs to take more responsibility in reacting to this situation. Since 1957, this country has been engaged in an ongoing battle between the various ethnic groups, and it seems as if the problems refuse to end. I have many very close friends from this country, and it is truly appalling to witness how governments of other countries can do so little, allowing this country's people to perish at the hands of its government officials. When will we decide that human lives are valuable in every country, and not just those with oil sitting underneath the ground?

Anonymous - San Francisco, California
I feel very bad for the residents of Sudan and Darfur. I can't believe that after only 18 months there's 50,000 fewer people. The Jahaweed's are very cruel, they target black farmers, kill men, and raped woman. I also feel that it's awful that 180,000 Sudanese feel they have leave their own country and fled to Chad to find safety. What really shocked me and caught my attention were the Children who were in the UN camps. It was unbelievable that many of who died were kids aged 5 and younger. They were dying from the unsanitary water they were drinking, which was really sad. Lastly I would like to say that I agree with Senator Kerry about helping the people out over there. They really need help with their living conditions.

Anonymous - Minneapolis, Minnesota
The first sentence in "Chad/Sudan: A Question of Genocide" is, "The Central African nation of Sudan has 50,000 fewer people now than it had about 18 months ago."

Surely that is a typographical error and the number is higher than 50,000. How can it be considered genocide if "only" 50,000 people have been killed or fled. I was under the impression that over one million people had fled and were either refugees in Chad or in other parts of Sudan and that hundreds of thousands had died. While 50,000 people is not a miniscule number, it doesn't seem to qualify as genocide.

FRONTLINE/World Responds:
As Amy Costello's article states: "The United Nations defines genocide as a calculated effort to destroy any group, or part of any group, because of its nationality, race or religion." It is not simply a matter of numbers, though as you say 50,000 people killed is hardly a "miniscule number." It's a human catastrophe. Your impression is correct that over a million people have been forced to flee their homes, as our report says.

Reactions to PAKISTAN: "The Hunt for Osama bin Laden"
Visit the site

Anonymous - St. Louis, Missouri
I enjoyed the story. I appreciate the complexity of the situation in the Tribal Region more particularly the intergenerational split.

Anonymous - Houston, Texas
Ms. Obaid ventures into the so called "wild west" and comes back with wonderful tidbits about life in Pakistan's tribal belt. Her report is refreshing to read because it provides a balanced view about the people and the situation in that region. She should however, have explored the anti-Musharraf sentiment in that region with greater detail...

Drew Wilkin - Plano, Texas
Sharmeen Obaid is a very brave individual. Her work is outstanding and seems to have been objective and most informative.

Anonymous - Woodacre, California
I enjoyed your story on the tribal belt of Pakistan. Sounds like the kids have really been warped. It looks like this friction promises to go on for a long time.

Shoa Shah - Chicago, Illinois
Ms. Obaid's report from North West of Pakistan is insightful and a pleasure to read. She has captured the feelings and aspirations of a nation struggling to define its identity in the new world order. I wish her all the best!

Anonymous - Boston, Massachusetts
Not the best note to end on. What Ms. Obaid has neglected to explore is that the sentiment against Bush policies (owing to the closing note) has much to do with its Iraq policy/ war... opposition to which is a worldwide phenomena. People in Pakistan at least were, relatively speaking, less opposed to what was happening before then. Bush's Iraq war only made Musharraf's job more difficult.

Reactions to KENYA: "Terror, Trade and Tourists"
Visit the site

Anonymous - Oakland, California
The U.S. should compensate the many Kenyan families who unnecessarily lost loved ones, especially due to the U.S. Marines interference with local rescue efforts in Nairobi.

That should be the story told -- how the U.S. Embassy guards (when they effected a 'security zone' well outside the embassy grounds) prevented local firefighters, police and other rescue workers from rescuing locals. It appeared that the only lives the U.S. was interested in protecting were those of their own staff, rather than those of the host nation.

Anonymous - New Orleans, Louisiana

  1. Why has Kenya resisted passing an anti-terrorism law? It would seem that any nation would be glad to pass an anti-terrorism law whether it was backed by the U.S. or not.
  2. Why is that our State Department warns travelers regarding Kenya and not other nations that have had terrorist attacks? Is the State Department implicitly taking the position that Kenya was somehow to blame for the attack on the U.S. Embassy there?

Marilee Eaves - New Orleans, Louisiana
I appreciate the thoroughness of Strickler's article, in particular the use of several different sources with their varied perceptions of the influence of the United States on Kenya. His writing serves to give me a sense of being there with him in the interviews. From this one article I have a sense of being updated on what is happening in this Arican country. More from Strickler please!

Anonymous - Oakland, California
I just read through the website. ... Only one thing interestingly caught me the fact that the politician you interview - I think you should have done more homework before interviewing - I think his comments were dishonest especially on the draft constitution. Besides this man was dis-barred for stealing clients' money.

Reactions to UGANDA: "President for Life?"
Visit the site

Anonymous - London, England
Very good article and right on the button. The President of Uganda has very recently visited President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, extolling that man's virtues. At the beginning of Mugabe's tenure, Zimbabweans, and indeed, others had high hopes for the man when he came to power in 1980, even likening him to Nelson Mandela. The rest is history, the opportunity was lost and now the country of Zimbabwe has a ruined economy, a starving people terrorized into submission and 80 percent of the population is now out of work -- and this in a country that was, until very recently, considered the bread basket of the vast area of sub-Saharan Africa. Greed and fear dislodge sane thinking and finally a total disregard for their own people. One tree makes a million matches but one match destroys a million trees! Thank you for the forum.

Anonymous - New Orleans, Louisiana
Do you have any reason to believe that the U.S. presidential election will have any effect on the political situation in Uganda?

FRONTLINE/World correspondent Jonathan Jones responds:
Thanks for the note. No, I do not think the outcome of the U.S. presidential election will have much of an impact on the current political situation in Uganda. Ugandans recognize that they must solve these constitutional issues themselves. President Museveni has had strong relationships with Democrats and Republicans. So far, the Bush Administration has offered a muted response in its opposition to a third term for Museveni. But Kerry has not paid much attention to Africa during the campaign. Bush is not popular in Uganda because of the invasion of Iraq, but Ugandans are also keenly aware that President Clinton failed to act during the Rwandan genocide. However, having said that, it is clear that the international community could put more pressure on Museveni to not seek a third term.

Reactions to BURMA: "Can Sanctions Bring Democracy?"
Visit the site

Anonymous - California
I have heard of the harm that has been caused by the Generals from people who have crossed into Thailand. It is worse than reported. For the ethnic tribes who reject the Generals they destroy entire villages, forcing all who do not surrender into the jungle. There is no food and the weather is cold in the mountains along the Thai border. The villages are planted with landmines so that villagers can not return and grow food. If they flee to Thailand they must hide and survive in the cities at horrible jobs or in the UN Refugee camps among legal refugees. Otherwise they are returned to be beaten and worse.

Those who surrender are confined to villages with subsistence employment if any.

Please tell about the people who are trying to help in various ways. People from various countries try to help ethnic people.

I want to help but how?

FRONTLINE/World Responds:
To answer your question, our researchers found the following well-respected not-for-profit organizations that offer more information and the opportunity to donate.

The Foundation for the People of Burma, which provides humanitarian aid to people inside Burma and refugees.

Planet Care, an organization that was founded by an American doctor, which provides medical care to displaced mothers and children in the Thai-Burma border area.

May Oo - Bakersfield, California
An article written by someone who had seen so well of modern day Burma, my country. Professor Bieder may not have seen all, but what she saw was significant to talk about my country.

With regard to sanctions, she also got it right. China has been a determining factor for the effectiveness of sanctions on Burma. I do not think that the U.S would go any further or deeper. Sanctions will remain symbolic, but toothless. And, the poor people of Burma will continue to appreciate U.S, because the words remain beautiful.

Simon Billenness - Somerville, Massachusetts
This is a fine piece of reporting from a country that has been ignored for too long by the American press.

Derek Tonkin, British Ambassador to Thailand 1986-1989 - Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom
Joan Bieder's article is a good reflection of the popular mood in Burma today, which I know from my own recent visits.

On sanctions, as I found during my time as a British diplomat in South Africa during the final years of apartheid, the ordinary people would invariably tell visitors how strongly they supported sanctions, but when they were asked what personal sacrifices they might be willing to make, such as refusing to work in public utilities or in the factories, they made it clear that there were limits to the sacrifices which they and their families could be expected to suffer. The reality, as they would then admit, was that they supported sanctions because sanctions showed that the outside world cared about South Africa, and for that reason they welcomed sanctions, provided they did not upset their daily lives.

The section about the 1990 elections in Burma contains a number of errors. The NLD secured 80.82% of the seats in the National Assembly, not 82% of the votes. The voting was 59.87% of valid votes cast, 52.44% of all votes cast and 38.11% of all votes which could have been cast (if everyone in Burma had voted). The junta declared that the elections had been successfully held, and everyone agreed that on the day the voting had been free and fair, and that no attempt was made to rig the vote. The differences which then broke out related to a serious disagreement about the actual purpose of the elections. The junta had declared prior to the elections that the elected assembly must first draft a constitution, which would then be submitted to a popular referendum; if approved, the constitution would then go back to parliament where it would be promulgated and a civilian administration could then be formed on the basis of the new constitution (though this might well involve fresh elections). The NLD rejected this timetable and demanded the immediate transfer of power. The SLORC refused. They won, because they had the guns. All Western papers at the time, immediately prior to the elections, agreed that there would be no immediate transfer of power until there had been a due process.

With respect, I feel that "State Law and Order Restoration Council" is more Orwellian than "State Peace and Development Council" - just say "SLORC" out loud, and you will see what I mean. This was indeed why the junta changed the name from SLORC to S.P.D.C.

FRONTLINE/World Reporter Joan Bieder responds:
Dear Ambassador Tonkin,
Many thanks for reading and responding to my dispatch from Burma. I appreciate the correction that the 82 percent referred to number of seats in the National Assembly and not the percentage of votes.

As a result of your email, we have corrected the figures on the dispatch.

Best Regards, Joan Bieder

Anonymous - Angwin, California
Thank you for this well balanced and accurate brief look into Myanmar. My wife and I visited there in '98 and still keep in touch with the friends we made there. I also visited the Karen refugee camps near Mae Sot in Thailand in '96. That has got to be one of the least known human rights travesties of these last couple decades. I wish there was something we could do to help.

Anonymous - London, United Kingdom
Sixteen years after 1988 and sanctions appear to be going nowhere. Continued ASEAN support enables the regime to survive and allows ASEAN & the PRC to plunder the country. Suu Kyi's principled and admirable stand is creating a deadlock and ensures minimal contact with the democratic west.This leaves the population exposed only to the ASEAN nations for whom property law let alone democracy is considered a luxury for those who can afford it. Getting Burmese politics even to the level of Thaksin Shinawatra's Thai Rak Thai party is going to take generations as it did in Thailand, a country with whom the West traded throughout the times of its military regimes. And, let's be honest, TRT's not entirely great.

Sadly we must be pragmatic and realistic rather than idealistic at the expense of the civilian population of Burma. Arms but not trade sanctions.

The normal/empirical sanction rules don't apply as Burma is not dependent on trade with U.S. or EU even if their economies are more than 10 times the size Burma's.

Getting rid of sanctions may enable the Burmese to rise above subsistence level agriculture, increase pressure on the SPDC to to create some basic levels of property law and will start to build a middle class - "No bourgousie no democracy".

It is childlike and demonstrates ignorance of SEA's recent history to assume that the NLD has the potential to be an instant panacea to Burma's woes. No matter how much we all wish the NLD were in power.

Suresh Rao - India
Nice dispatch with unbiased reporting. I hope that U.S. takes a better, more involved stand than just keeping the country away. When U.S. can trade with countries like Saudi Arabia, then why not with Myanmar?

Reactions to VENEZUELA: "Hugo Chavez, Clutch Hitter"
Visit the site

Hank Flandysz - Midland, Michigan
Hugo Chavez must not be overthrown by American money and intrigue. It will be yet another wound to the people of Latin America who want their independence and are no longer willing to accept the status of satellite nations of the Goliath to the North. It's just plain wrong for us to continue to rape those countries for our own selfish interest. It's what we criticized the Soviets for doing to their satellite nations.

Aileen Tayler - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Bravo to Carter for standing up for the traditional image of the U.S.A as champion of democracy. Too bad Bush and the Centre for Democracy are undermining America's image and respect abroad by invading, occupying and destabilizing countries & their gov'ts with oil and other riches.

Pamela Rose - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Since oil has become so central to western life and it has prospered - and oil-rich countries have such rampant a level beyond the imagination of oil consumers...what more does a citizen need to know in order to understand Arabic/Muslim rage against the U.S.?!

Reactions to EUROPE: "Continental Drift"
Visit the site

Anton Lersundi - Hernani, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Fifteen years after the Fall of the Wall of Shame, the Eastern Germans don€t seem to be very happy. West Germany has failed to unify the country. Almost everybody in Europe--except perhaps a few Frenchmen--agrees that Germany is the only locomotive of the EU. By 2007 Europe will accept some Balkan candidates, among them Romania and Bulgaria, two countries that were Turkish colonies until 1878...and, perhaps, Turkey itself. My question is: If after they knocked down the Wall of Shame, they couldn€t unify the Germans, how could they [the EU] expect to assimilate some countries that for hundreds of years lived under Muslim rule...?

Giovanni Vecci - Evanston, Illinois
As an American citizen as well as a citizen of the E.U. I do not believe that a rift between E.U. and U.S.A is inevitable. Nor do I believe that the relation between the two will always be necessarily competitive. Certainly George Bush should avoid to gloat with the Turkish ambassador that he had just smashed the E.U. (with the letter of nine). The Europeans have any right to consider the present American administration as the most anti-European administration in memory. They do not know the decency of the everyday American: they know Bush, Cheney, Wolfovitz, Pearle. And defending the U.S. on European blogs becomes an impossible task.

Anton de Lersundi - Hernani, Gipuzkoa, Spain
... May I say that the Eastern European countries are far from being a homogeneous entity. Romania, Albania and all the Balkans suffered 400 years of Turkish domination and they have very little in common with Poland, Slovenia or Hungary.

Anonymous - Preaux, France
Europe hasn't made it that far yet, in fact things are a bit backwards: economic power first, political power yet to be, and beyond that one or two major mistakes in its semantic conception on my opinion...what about the ret of the Mediterranean countries? (all with diverse strong ties to continental Europe) ...what about Ex-Yugoslavia (did somebody say "never that again" after WWI and after WWII)...etc...but that would take one big fat book to discuss the issue !! NO Europe isn't close to being a counter power for the U.S. (however bad or good that is). A french sci-fi author, Maurice Dantec, rebaptised it "Zeropa" arguing that Europe either died or failed to come to life during the siege of Sarajevo! Have you considered it under that approach?

Drew Leifheit - Budapest, Hungary
... Mark Schapiro's web dispatch on how Hungarians feel about the War on Terror contains erroneous conclusions. It seems like Mark has based his 'analysis' on a few bar stories.

Anyone who has seen opinion polls in Hungary from the last couple of years would know that the decisions to train Iraqi police and send troups to Iraq have not been supported by a majority of the Hungarian public - they've been overwhelmingly against both, and this sentiment isn't something which emerged in the wake of Abu Ghraib. Even after Saddam Hussein was captured, 67% of Hungarians polled were against having their troops in Iraq according to a September 2003 Gallup poll. Also, the major opposition party has had a field day using these unpopular decisions against the coalition partners in parliament.

As for the prospect of George Bush having some semblance of popularity here in Hungary, I am really curious how many people Mark talked to. I live in Hungary, speak Hungarian fluently and have never met any Hungarian who isn't at least perplexed, more often mortified, by George Bush being my president.

FRONTLINE/World Reporter Mark Schapiro responds:
Thanks for your note. The reticence of Hungarians to support the Bush policy in Iraq was something I noted quite clearly in my piece -- as distinguished from their neighbors in Poland and Czech Republic, whose governments have generally shown stronger support for the U.S. in Iraq.

But aside from the people you speak with regularly, you're no doubt aware of the strong -- and often times predominant -- conservative streak in Hungarian politics that expresses itself in each election outside the capital of Budapest.

The intent of my article was to evoke a sense of the basic differences in perception of the United States that range across the European Union. Those differences continue. And there is no doubt that there is more support for U.S. foreign policy in Eastern Europe than in the west. But, as I wrote, the differences are beginning to narrow significantly--a development only hastened along by rising skepticism over the situation in Iraq.

John Majic
Why is it that to be in Europe, a country has to join the western half? Hungary can't join something that it makes a large portion of. And why is God in quotations?

FRONTLINE/World editors respond:
We don't make the rules for membership in Europe. The EU started in western Europe. But we undertstand your rhetorical point. God was put in quotes simply to indicate the word that was proposed for insertion into the European Constitution. No theological comment was intended.

John O'Donnell - San Francisco, California
Well-researched and written article on a subject not often enough explored in our relatively self-centered country.

Shirley Walton - Miramar, Florida
Not only they should [care what Europeans think of the U.S.], but also they must learn the culture and the politics of other countries. This way, they will be knowledgeable in asking the right questions when their president decide to do things on his/her free will without the challenge of their citizens.

Reactions to THAILAND: "The Vet Who Didn't Come Home"
Visit the site

William Brannon - U.S.A
I was a Vietnam era vet who served in Germany. I was also drafted. I had friends that went to Vietnam and some of them did not come back and some came back very affected by what they saw. So does it matter that one candidate served while the other did not. It sure does. It goes to character and service and that experience does matter when it means if we do or do not go to war and how our forces are trained and how they are treated. I was also in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and was involved with some of those experiences, such as the scuds, and living among war-time preparations and movements. That encounter was carefully planned and thoughtfully executed by a President who had actual combat experience. Pity that his son did not share the lessons taught by his dad. Does it matter, it sure does and now look at the body bags trickling back from that rush to war. It matters greatly!

Teresa Howell - El Dorado, Kansas
To me this question is about character, bravery and leadership. Logical decision making under duress comes to mind. Mr. Bush has no credible qualities that would cause me to feel safe in this world under his "leadership". Mr. Bush continuously refers to "the war on terror" and has convinced himself that he, alone, (without world support) can win "his" war. I can't help but wonder why his daughters are not running out and signing up for military service in support of "his" war on terror. He will not have my sons for his insane rantings about some non-existent threat. The fact is that he lied. Kerry has my vote on all the issues that the sane people of America truly care about. I am sure Kerry would not ask me to give up even one son for this nonsense.

Anonymous - College Station, Texas
Waited half the article to get views -- got two. Less preamble -- more individual views preferred. Good job for whole view of place/country/context and a vet's views.

Jerry Baiden - San Jose, California
The vet that lives in Thailand has a viewpoint that is quite perplexing. He states, "This election is going to be based on honesty, not on medals." It is interesting that he's a Bush supporter.

Wayne Sanderson - Iowa City, Iowa
I enjoyed Mr. Gage's interview from Thailand very much. I agreed with what he said and believe he expressed the sentiments of many Americans living in the U.S.

Anonymous - Sag Harbor, New York
I think Mr. Gage's comments are right on the mark, and I think he is expressing the way many U.S. citizens in the U.S. feel. But I'm afraid 4 more years of GWB really scares me. I don't believe in pre-emptive war.

Byron Ellis - Tucson, Arizona
Too short. A great opportunity missed. Why only an opinion from one? Mr. Gage said he knew where Pres. Bush was going. He should have been asked where. That would have quantified his other statements. College students have good ideas, but no substance.

Anonymous - Greensboro, North Carolina
"...being a gentleman isn't the way to be if you're going to run in politics". Running for the U.S. Senate having never run for public office of any kind, being pretty much unknown outside of legal circles in NC, was no way to enter politics, either, but Mr. Edwards managed to do it successfully. Mr. Edwards doesn't decide what to do based on whether "it's the way" it's always been; he does things based on what he believes is right and needed. I'd be thrilled to see a gentleman in politics.

Bill Donovan - Pikesville, Maryland
Who gives a rat's [expletive deleted] what some guy thinks who has no love for family or country, and chooses to live outside the U.S.A.!!!!

Georgette Cooper - Santa Fe, New Mexico
What an interesting perspective! Thanks for reporting on a 'slice of life' many
of us knew nothing about.