... "The film, a rich concentrate of information and insights, should not be
missed by those who'd like a little more from their pols than soundbites at
press conferences. Granted Mr. Bush isn't one of the talking heads -- a pity,
that, for one would have learned so much by watching him in an armchair,
detached from that public gaze that makes him so angular, so self-conscious.
But there is Mr. Powell, smooth and laid-back, perhaps secure that he will not
be contradicted on film by another heavyweight talking head, because -- great
pity, again -- there's no Mr. Rumsfeld. ...
"This reviewer's favorite sections in 'Campaign Against Terror' are from the
second hour, when we hear from a handful of Green Berets who actually
participated in the war, the grunts who all made it happen on the ground.
"Impressively articulate, these soldiers tell of how their Northern Alliance
allies fought on horseback, with American B-52 aerial support -- making this,
arguably, the most bizarre juxtaposition of beast and technology in the history
of modern warfare. ...
"The pictures are moving, as are the words of the soldiers -- plain, honest
guys from the heartland who had learned, in the space of days, not merely to
distinguish the Hazaras from the Tajiks from the Pashtuns, but also to
disentangle the fiercely knotted sensibilities of those hostile tribes.
Let no one tell you it was easy."
... "Campaign Against Terror" gets firsthand accounts of the decision to mount
the antiterror campaign from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, the national
security adviser Condoleezza Rice and others inside the Bush administration.
But while a few reporters are on hand to give analysis, the entire program
feels as if it could have been made by the White House publicity machine.
"Let others mark this painful anniversary of terror with tapes of horrific acts
and the aftermath. PBS' Frontline marches to its own drummer.
"In a powerful two-hour special Sunday, that march leads straight to the front
lines of the first war of the 21st century...
"There's a riveting tale of how the Afghan's Northern Alliance linked up with
U.S. Special Forces -- 'the first chapter in the wild, wild West events that we
would participate in every day,' says a captain.
"Hamid Karzai recalls his close call with friendly fire, and the tragedy an
American bomb left behind is fully reviewed -- along with the question of
whether the U.S. military relied too heavily on Afghan forces, and whether not
getting Osama bin Laden constitutes failure.
"Also discussed are recent charges of war crimes by the Northern Alliance,
which are denied by a Special Forces officer. And it reports that Bush was
sometimes 'frustrated' at the slowness of the war. ...
"That's just scratching the surface of Frontline's excellent year-end
progress report. Thanks to TV's most enterprising documentary series for
prodding us to remember that America's Campaign Against Terror won't be over
'til it's over."
... "A brisk yet thorough chronicle of how the Bush administration mobilized
America's allies against the Taliban. Frontline got access to key
players including Secretary of State Colin Powell, hawkish defense deputy Paul
Wolfowitz, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and others."
home + on the ground + assessing the campaign + with us or against us? + fighting on two fronts: a chronology
epilogue + discussion + interviews + links & readings + introduction + video + reporter's notebook
FRONTLINE + wgbh + pbsi
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