the long road to war
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Discussion: What does this FRONTLINE report on the history of America's confrontation with Iraq say to you about the endgame the U.S. now is approaching with Saddam Hussein?


Dear FRONTLINE,

I work at the United States House of Representatives, where we have our office televisions tuned into CNN at all times. I have listened to the latest developments in this conflict with Iraq for nine hours a day for over a year. I am immersed in national news at all times, yet it was not until I saw "The Long Road to War" that I felt that I truly had an understanding of what was at stake in this war.

Your program has satisfied an intense desire to be informed about the wider implications and complex history of this situation that has not been met by the moment to moment coverage of most news stations. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your excellent programming.

Though I think that the Bush administration has handled international relations in a disasterously clumsy way which will have far reaching implications for our role in the global community, your program's in-depth explanation of the complex build up to this moment in history has given me hope that we may actually save more lives by going to war than by standing by and doing nothing about the violent, reckless regime of Saddam Hussein.

I intend to pledge my support through a contribution to your much needed organization.

Aimee Saulnier
alexandria, va


Dear FRONTLINE,

The Frontline program, "Long Road to War", was helpful at clarifying U.S. reasons for wanting war in Iraq. It helped me to understand why the war has such strong support. While some considered it balanced, in my view it was decidedly pro-war. It provided little insight into the reasons this war is so strongly opposed.

It avoided the odious conflicts of interest that make Bush's motives unclear. It avoided the lack of evidence of a connection to 9/11. It did not mention the manipulations of facts: Bush's citing a non-existant report from IAEA that Saddam was 6 months from developing weapons, British intelligence cobbled from old college thesis papers, and doctored, misrepresented satellite images. It also does not endeavor to explain why the alternatives to war (enhanced, coercive inspections, for example) were rejected. It did not mention the illegal means employed by the NSA to spy on members of the security council. I also think that the threats and bribes employed by the U.S. to manipulate U.N. member states to change their votes (even against the will of their people) is reprehensible and worthy of mention.

Jon Stubbs
boulder, co


Dear FRONTLINE,

I cannot thank you enough for "The Long Road to War." I must admint that my past perspective has been shaped by half the picture. Your comprehensive program drew connections between the past and present, engaging me to rethink my position.

I have been admantly against this war, and while I still think there is nothing democratic about enforcing global democracy, I now believe there be must be a new model, that containment is not effective in a world with weapons of mass destruction.

Hillary Smith
whitefish, mt


Dear FRONTLINE,

I wish to thank PBS and the producers of Frontline for developing and broadcasting "The Long Road To War." It is the most thoughtful, balanced, and insightful presentation of the Iraq issue that I have seen. I must confess that I underestimated the threat that Saddam Hussein presents to the world and found myself surprised to feel the need to intervene militarily to remove him from power.

At the same time, the program reinforced my estimation that this Bush Administration is the most arrogant, secretive, and in many respects dangerous that we have seen in a long time. Had the administration used the evidence that you showed to make its case against Saddam, I suspect it would have gained a lot more joiners to its cause. I fear the consequences of its hubris.

John Little
raleigh,, nc


Dear FRONTLINE,

After watching the Frontline show last evening, I copied the data from the computer.

Your report sheds a completely new light on the Iraq confrontation and reveals a tremendous amount of historical fact I was not cognizent of before. This has changed my view of the necessity of eliminating Saddam Hussein and all of his cronies immediately, with or without help from the UN or other contries.

The UN is turning into a worthless group, much like the League of Nations. No one was militarily strong enough to stop Hitler when he began, but we are surely capable of stopping this tyrant.

I served in the Marine Corps in WW II and know all the horrors of conflict, but it is now or never to right this wrong that has been going on for so long.

Philip Stokes
ypsilanti, mi


Dear FRONTLINE,

I caught the show midway last night, 3/17. Was this an initial broadcast? I do want to see it again & have all others see it as stated by several of the folks here. I'd like to buy a tape of it. I also appreciate this discussion forum. I, like many, was waivering & I gained an appreciation for the decision to intervene & will support it, while hoping we will learn from past errors. I also gained disgust at the UN, and particularly France, with Ritter's frustration of their lack of support for inspections. Now, wanting more time & inspections, seems hypocritical.

But I also appreciate the comments here of Pursley, Schenk, Black and Martin to explore & cover: Ritter's opposition to war (that would be a big qualifier, as his frustration was probably the most convincing piece to me to give up on the UN), a longer time period of coverage (of couse that'd be good), and the access to oil issue (although I don't buy into that - Saddam will sell oil - but I would like to see credible arguments on that vs. predictable anti-establishment rhetoric).

Thanks, you've encouraged me to look further & deeper as well.

Mike O'Halloran
santa clara, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

Though everything you do is excellent, I must tell you that last night's Frontline was the best thing I have ever seen on TV.

I hate the thought of what is to come,and would vote against it; but I fear it may be necessary. Saddam has always reminded me of Stalin. He even looks like him! Thank you for a very unbiased and informative documentary.

Janet Mc Mullan
river edge, nj


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for an excellent program. I hope it will be shown again.

One of the unintended consequences of the Bush doctrine may be to increase the spread of nuclear weapons to avoid pre-emptive strikes by the US. North Korea sets an example to the rest of the world.

While Saddam needs to be contained he presents no immediate threat to the US and time should have been taken to act with the international community. The damage that has been done to international relations will hinder the real war on terrorism. This US agression will destabilize the region and create a wedge between the arab and muslim world that Al Quaeda has failed to do. My heart goese out to our soldiers and all the people who will suffer because of this senseless war.

nicola collins
boulder city, nv


Dear FRONTLINE,

I was absolutely enthralled by your presentation "The Long Road to War." In my view, it is only through such an opportunity to have a long range vision of these events and players that one can see and accept the course of action in the present.

The show was like a visual collective memory. I found it fair and balanced. Enjoyed the range of opinions and statements from all the "talking heads." It was chilling to see Saddam's purge of members of his government in the big meeting where he smoked a stogie and sobbed, calling out name after name. Likewise to experience the stridency and misplaced idealism (in my view)of the American students badgering Madeleine Albright, and to watch her roll her eyes in response.

I only wish it had gone on and covered the climactic events of the past several weeks, but that will be for the future to document and bring together. I would never have expected this on PBS on the eve of war(despite the balanced presences of Jim Lehrer News Hour and Washington Week in Review it is by and large programming for the intellectual left leaning elite), but I am wholeheartedly grateful for this program. Thank you.

Joseph Struble
rochester, new york


Dear FRONTLINE,

This was a most enlightening documentary. All the pieces now fit! I am in total agreement with President Bush. I would hope you continue to show this regularly during the coming weeks and I wish it would be shown on the network stations as well. The Hollywood types as well as the "peace marchers" have no clue what is going on. Keep showing this program and I'll keep urging my friends and co-workers to watch it. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

Nanci Farrington
san bernardino, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

thank you so much for showing your program last night!!! I was intially behind the President's decision to go to war, then when everyone was going against us, I began to wonder if we were doing the right thing,

THEN I watched your program last night and it reaffirmed my belief that we are doing what needs to be done. Your program was excellent!!! It clarified everything for me, almost. I enjoyed your program very much, and feel that everyone in America and elsewhere need to see it before they say or do something stupid.

Carl Sikes Jr
arlington, texas


Dear FRONTLINE,

As a brutal dictator, Saddam deserves whatever fate awaits him at the hand of U.S. forces.

However, I think it's appalling that men like Paul Wolfowitz (doing his best impression of Cecil Rhodes) used the events of September 11th to push their own global ambitions. I hope Frontline continues to do such insightful reporting, especially in this age of propaganda driven news networks and sound bite reporting.

Andrew Altrichter
philadelphia, pa


Dear FRONTLINE,

I would first like to commend you on your "Long Road to War" program. It has pieced together the long and complicated story which has brought us again to the brink of war. Certainly every American, if not others around the world, should watch this program to help us form more educated opinions on our current situation.

Considering all of the information presented in your report, I find myself still conflicted over our impending invasion of Iraq. Clearly he is a despicable dictator who has the potential to become the next Stalin, or Hitler, and therefore, should be removed from his position sooner or later.

What I resent most about our current plans for war is the abrasive, arrogant stance the Bush administration has chosen for establishing their international policy. It seems like as soon as George W. Bush entered office with his "hawkish" compatriots, they were searching for the earliest opportunity to get back into their fight with Saddam. September 11th proved to be a perfect entry for them to do so, even if they had nothing to do with the attacks. The terrible events of that day seem to have granted them permission to dust off Paul Wolfowitz's controversial 1992 doctrine for the U.S. to "democratize" the world.

I am afraid that their arrogance and extreme neo-reaganist views will plunge us into a dangerous period of extended war, not only with Iraq, but other countries around the world, and continued threats of retaliatory terrorist attacks.

Sarah Clinton
ann arbor, michigan


Dear FRONTLINE,

Congratulations on an excellent piece. It answered all the questions I have been raising for the past months. I have e-mailed all my friends to watch this show when it is rebroadcast.

I went to bed disturbed but wasn't quite sure why. This morning it dawned on me. We as a country had so many times not done anything to protect the innocents. Now, because the hawks are in power we will attack. The circumstances are no different than they were, except, the power structure is more aggressive. The President needs to surround himself with people who all have different ideas, not just one viewpoint. I agree we need to get rid of Saddam, but then I always did. I am still uncomfortable with not having UN support. But I will back up our guys as they put their lives on the line. If the Older President Bush had just finished the job, this wouldn't be necessary today. God Bless our boys.

brick, new jersey


Dear FRONTLINE,

To all involved, I would like to express my gratitude for the work that you have done on this informative documentary. Is there any chance that we'll see a rebroadcast of this?

Steve Dreggors
glennville, ga

FRONTLINE's editors respond:
Please check with your local PBS station since they have the option to rebroadcast this program at any time.

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