Frontline World


Iraq: THE ROAD TO KIRKUK, May 2003



Read through archived FRONTLINE/World conversations around this story below, including responses from the reporters.

Alan Zachwieja - Port Angeles, Washington
While I gave a longer response to the story about a return to Vietnam, I really appreciated the story about the Kurds. The personal POV, with camera at eye level, in the midst of events, made us, the viewers, feel like we were there, accompanying the journalist. He did a great job. And so did the cameraman. (Add in the soundman and maybe a producer/director, who remained invisible.) Altogether, a well-told and thorough story. The poor woman was seen and we shared her grief, close without being intrusive, nor did the correspondent intrude...a wise choice on his part. And the reporter uncovered "the dirty little secrets" that every side, unfortunately, has in a conflict. And that did not appear in the sanitized versions which appeared in our national TV news. The Kurds are our current heroes, in the American mythos. And well they deserve and need a homeland, their own "stan." But every fighting force has its brutes that will try to get away with committing atrocities, such as the senseless shooting of the 8 year old boy in the taxi. Another example of why revenge never works, and why it remains one of the lower forms of human nature, never attaining to become one of our human virtues. Having the story told from the POV of being on the ground, also showed me so much more of the real life, in the real places, with the ambiguities of individual Arabs and Turkmens suffering personal injustices amidst great complexities, than was ever revealed by more detached news reports on the mass media. We were able to experience the real event--the fall of the frontline of the Iraqi army run by the Baathists--and to comprehend some of the complexities of the aftermath, that will make "winning the peace" even more difficult than winning the war.

Redee - San Diego, California
I think it would be much more problematic in the future for the region if the Kurds were to have their own country stuck between two countries (Turkey and Iraq) who do not want a Kurd dominated state between both countries. There are deeply rooted animosities and hate by the Kurds against Turkey and Iraq for having repressed them for so long. It is better to mend past differences and create a region of partnerships between peoples and countries of the region. Ethnic exclusivity creates nothing but war and problems for countries. I think the solution lies in establishing representative governments both in Turkey and Iraq where the individual and ethnic rights are respected.

GG Graham - California
The Kurds should have their own land.

Jordan Shepler - Atlanta, Georgia
The situation in the Middle East has always been very sensitive, especially in recent years. I don't believe the formation of another unstable rogue country would be in the best interests of any one. Also a new country of this such would require close governing by the U.S.; a task we yet again are not up to.

Tony Kuhn - Waukesha, Wisconsin
Do I think the Kurds are worthy of their own country, emphatically yes! Do I think it will ever happen? No! The U.S. has a debt to pay to the Kurds, though. We have been two-faced to them since Mustafa Barzani--depended on which way the wind blew. Not too proud of my country now.

Barbara Sutherland - Greenfield, Ohio
This what I call "real news of interest" not entertainment and sensationalism. We see through your reporters, places and situations, conditions that we could not imagine exist in our wonderful, united states.

Anonymous - Denver, Colorado
I am one of the Special Forces soldiers Sam was with on the road to Kirkuk, dodging bullets and artillery rounds. Thanks to Sam and his cameraman for saying what needed to be said. I wish he had more time to fill with his footage. I told Sam I think he's crazy to do what he does. I wouldn't go to a gunfight with a camera. We didn't mind Sam's presence because we were confident that he would not endanger our mission or compromise our identities. Thanks for the non-US perspective, Sam. It's sometimes hard to hear, but needed. In parting, we told him to keep his head down, but I had little hope that he would. Whatever guardian angel has been saving Sam's ass all this time, I hope he continues to do so.

Kiarash Kamrava - Redlands, California
Your report on the history of the Kurds was very interesting, informative, and well appreciated. Though I don't consider myself knowledgeable in Kurdish studies, I foresee some problems in the idea of complete autonomy for Kurdistan. If possible, an alternative might be to install a similar system as exists in the U.S. where in The new Iraqi regime there could be federation of states, including a Kurdish state as well as a Shiite state. That way the groups are given a certain level of independence as well as stability of a centralized government. Views, opposing or in agreement, to my comment would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Anonymous - Coolin, Idaho
Thank goodness there is still this quality of reporting on TV! (Thank you PBS and KSPS-TV, Spokane,WA!) An excellent record of the real costs of war, still allowed to be shown on U.S. mass media networks. I worry a lot about the erosion of freedom of the press and what isn't seen on U.S. TV; programs of this type and quality restore my hope that liberty will prevail.

Anonymous - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
They should have had their land back in WW1. However, who are we to tell them how to live?