I have become accustomed to having my eyes opened by each episode of FRONTLINE and this program delivered as expected. Witnessing the infighting between civilian and military leadership prior to the war confirms my lack of faith in this administration.
The war in Iraq was run by a very short sighted and arrogant President, Secretary of Defense, Assistant Secretary of Defense and others who were perfectly willing to overrule the experience and advice of our most seasoned and experienced military leaders.
Setting aside the question of IF we should have invaded Iraq and to what threat we Americans were under from Iraq, the larger issue is the incredibly poor and under-prepared planning that took place. Taking Iraq appears to be a foregone conclusion (from what I have read, more than a decade in coming thanks to Mr. Wolfowitz and his kind). The price we have paid in human life, the damage to our reputation as a country worthy of respect and the deficit we will be paying for many years to come is nothing short of a international debacle.
Your program about the war in Iraq was dramatic and thought provoking. Providing the viewpoints of fighters on both sides, as well as civilians, provided incredible insight into the nature of the war. It reminded me once again how tremendously difficult that job really was and how well our people carried out the tasks given.
I must point out, however, that this country, with the permission congress, achieved victory over that terrible dictator because of the leadership of the Bush administration, not in spite of it. The war wasnít perfect by any stretch but the show could have at least shown all sides of the political decisions. The attempt to separate the military victory from the leadershipís victory was in no way fair or balanced.
As to the focus on troop levels, I would like to remind people that Iraq is not like Europe. Perhaps putting a GI on every street corner in that part of the world, to ensure security, would not have been the best idea and might have cost us even more dearly in the end. This is obviously just my opinion but since the producers neglected to give the opposing arguments on certain issues itís all I have to go on.
I was very disturbed at the clear antiwar bias of your documentary on the Iraq war, particularly your dwelling on civilian casualties. Civilian casualties are always tragic and regrettable, but they do not abrogate the need for justified military action, even though your slant on the event is clearly to undermine any resolve to prosecute military action. Unfortunately, war is full of tragedies, even when they are intended to be minimized. I suppose you would have unremittingly lamented the civilian casualties in World War II in Germany and Japan, had Frontline existed then, undermining the war effort in that conflict. In addition, your interview with a Fedayeen irregular was absolutely obscene. I happen to be a Democrat, and on most issues liberal to moderate in my views, but I am appalled at your skewed and prejudicial report on the Iraq war.
FRONTLINE's editors respond:
Several viewers wrote in about the issue of civilian deaths. It is a tough and difficult topic. Military commanders discussed it with us in the reporting for this film, and one of them talked about it in the program. We also noted in the program narration the Pentagon's position on this -- that the Pentagon "did everything it could to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians. "
Because the issue is so difficult and sensitive, we have devoted a section to it on this web site where you will find the comments of a U.S. military commander and reporters and analysts of the war. Go to the "Analysis" section, off the homepage of this site.
Dear Frontline: Thank you for a fine documentary on the war in Iraq (which is far from over). It is telling to me how many of the U.S. military leaders seem to have retired in 2003. I can only imagine their disgust with Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Wolfowitz who thought they knew more than these men, who spent their adult lives studying war tactics. The military knew what a horrible mistake we were making to send in too few troops. I have faith that the real truth about this war will come out over time - there are few secrets in Washington. We are in Iraq to protect Israel from missile attacks. We are there because we want to get out of Saudi Arabia and were hoping to set up strategic bases in Iraq to intimidate Syria and Iran. We are there because of the oil. The world will not easily forgive our arrogance. Our leaders chose to believe the lies of the convicted criminal, Ahmed Chalabi, and his group who want to take power in Iraq. Where are the flowers and the candy they promised would be thrown at our soldiers feet? What a sad joke. Our democracy is in danger. We need to vote Mr. Bush out of office before the America we know and love is reduced to a George Orwell nightmare.
Frontline is by far the most in depth video news source in the game. And i'm always a bit smarter when I remember to tune in on thursday. So I feel a need to defend the program a little from the large number of decenting posts. Particularly the views that Frontline only presented the negative view and was biased in its reporting. I will admit the show is leaning a bit "left", and in my opinion,is an apt counterbalance to all the right wing media spin lately. But some of the charges posted are just flawed. Some posts said that Frontline was biased and spun the negative by being selective on who they interviewed. This is ignorant. I'm impressed, as usual, with Frontline's ability to get the best interviews. The majority of the interviews in this piece were of the Iraqi field commander, A few Coalition field commanders, a few Iraqi citizens who we watched on tv during the war losing there families, bomber piolets who dropped the biggest bombs on "leadership" targets, and top coalition leadership. How less biased and more informative can a news show be? Maybe if Bush himself had been interviewed, you right wingers would'nt be so hard on Frontline. But I suspect that would not have been a very informative interview.
Grand Rapids, MI
When the fathers established our country, they made an effort to remind us that our country would not last if we neglegected our responsibilty to "maintain it". Frontline always lives up to this responsibility by providing us with valuble and deep insight into situations where most media only scratch the surface. I have no fears of any slant that may appear, given that your reports provide enough content so that I can make my own decision on a particular subject. Your program on the invasion of Iraq is a fine example of this. Given the early information, I believed the war justified and important. Your report demonstrated how proud we Americans can be of our Armed Forces in difficult circumstances, and how the mixing of politics and war always make poor bedfellows.
As a Viet-Nam Veteran with a son in Iraq, I am proud of the job our forces have done and want them all home as quickly as possible. I also want the leadership that has caused them to be there removed, starting with Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld. These dispicable men are directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi's because of their radical view of the world and America's role in it. I hope the damage done by their refusal to listen to our own military leaders as well as our allies throughout the world can be repaired.
East Lansing, MI
It can't be said yet, that anyone--the United States nor Iraq--is better off after toppling Saddam, especially with the tactics we used to accomplish it. If Saddam's regime turns out not to have presented the eminent threat as portrayed pre-war, then our failure to plan properly for the post-war leaves that country ripe to really become a hotbed of anti-American activity. One thing is paramount--Iraq must be a model of democracy in the Middle East. The stakes are way too high for the planners to have left so much to chance. The way it's been handled so far borders on the unforgiveable. Since the deed has been done and the clock can't be rewound, a theocracy resembling Iran, a shaky dictatorship as in Afganistan, a royal house with only a tragic future as Saudi Arabia faces, or the anarchy of the West Bank will mark the Bush administration as the "leadership" that destroyed all hope of peaceful, progressive American influence in the Middle East.
I would like to express my thanks for your work on this subject and many others. I usually find your journalistic endeavors great subjects for debate and discussion. However, I was greatly disappointed this time with your bias and your lack of fairness. Is there more to this story than what we originally heard this last spring? Absolutely! Filling in the gap is what I expect FRONTLINE to do, and a majority of the time you do it well. However, what we saw tonight was a lot of opinions past off as truth, a very one-sided selection of guests, and an overly-cynical view of the situation. While this program did a great many things for me, it left a great impression of negativity that is truly underserved. You could have done much better FRONTLINE. As one of your few loyal conservative viewers who defends your integrity in every situation, you have let me down.
Now we know where all of Saddam's slush funds went, to PBS to discredit and destroy George Bush. I continue to watch and listen to PBS only to know what the enemy is doing.
Those against the war and for the war have based their arguments on the WMDs or lack thereof. At best, evidence of WMDs always carried a caveat of doubt. It should not have been our primary rationale for war in Iraq. We, in a very real and large way, contributed to what Saddam Hussein became. We are the responsible party who should shoulder the burden of his removal. Yet, as we did not own up to this responsibility, it was not the guiding force in our efforts in Iraq. And because we did not plan for the welfare of the Iraqi people after the war, we find ourselves in the mess we are in today. Ill prepared to win the peace we courageously fought a war for.
The Invasion of Iraq was a good report, examining several valid perspectives. It seemed more thoughtful than is typical of the media reports I have seen. I urge you to take a longer view, and consider a follow-up in one or two more years looking at the events of the occupation and reconstruction. The campaign is where the drama is, but the real story in the long view will be the outcome of the work going on now. It won't be dramatic, but it will have far more impact.
In evaluating the performances of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz during Gulf War II, it appears that we have not learned history's lesson. Doesn't this remind us of the fallacies propogated by McNamara and Westmoreland in the Vietnam era? That politically motivated military arrogance can replace common sense and sound strategy?
I think that this arrogance is pervasive in the current administration, and it's time to show this crew the door.
Maybe common sense and thoughtful decisiveness will return.
PBS portrayed the Presidentís landing on the Abraham Lincoln as his statement that the ìMission had beenì accomplished. The mission of the aircraft carrierís crew was over. The president himself said, ìthe mission is continuing.,î Why does PBS misrepresent what the President actually said?
FRONTLINE's editors respond:
We would point out that the landing on the carrier was a White House staged event in which that banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" was prominently displayed behind the president. The writer correctly notes that President Bush's speech was about thanking the troops for their good work and pointing out that U.S. forces were facing continuing challenges in postwar Iraq.
I am a member of the 3rd BCT 3ID(M) stationed at Ft Benning, Ga. I recently watched your show on the war in Iraq, and found it to be very interesting. However, as a soldier in the 3rd BCT I was somewhat dissapointed not to see any of the fine soldiers form our great Brigade interviewed. If at some point in the future you do another story please try to include comment or interviews from those members of the 3rd BCT 3ID(M). I found it very informative hearing about the other side of the war from the Iraqis point of view. Thank you very much.