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The next president is inheriting a very high-stakes challenge in Afghanistan. What should his priority be?

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Dear FRONTLINE,

You have simply outdone yourselves with another incredible and unforgettable program.Again - simply beyond outstanding.Just incredible.Thank you!!

Olaf Brescia
Sacramento, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your broadcast was excellent; It had me saying to myself and to our country "get out, get out".

I have and continue to support the war on terror and in Iraq, however, Afghanistan will drain us beyond our means of precious American blood and money. The American public will not support another seemingly endless struggle.

Other Super powers have failed here and we are not likely to do any better. The worst piece of earth to have a war, coupled with the worst kind of ememy; one without a uniform and hiding in the populace. Before your broadcast, I was of the opinion that we had actually defeated the Taliban and had let our guard down. All we did was scatter them.

Leaving would be the easiest thing to do. The downside is what happens to the greater area and the Pakistan nukes. The World is getting even more dangerous, our foreign policy has few options. May God bless our brave soldiers and their families who both suffer in the name of freedom and national security.

Jose T. Mercado
Austin, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you! What an excellent, thought-provoking, and chilling "briefing." I have asked my students and colleagues to view the online version. I have enormous respect for your work and am grateful to your reporters and photographers for their insight and bravery.

Brookeville, Maryland

Dear FRONTLINE,

I think that we have to look at this war a whole lot differently. 1.) pressure Pakistan to give the tribal areas to give it independence, in which they could cover the borders more closely and then the Taliban and Al-Qeada are between American forces and Pakistani forces, so they have no place to go. 2.) have a massive troop surge, in Afghanistan, about 2x the size of the one in Iraq and them across the border region in the hamlets and villages. 3.) reach across to the Taliban that can be turned onto our side and launch a massive Afghan military recruitment and civil service recruitment.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Dear FRONTLINE,

Excellent presentation! "The War Briefing" should be broadcast during prime time hours on each and every major network, including cable -- just like the presidential debates are broadcast -- to divert viewer's attentions away from those ridiculous "reality" and game shows for once, to the reality of what's going on in the world.

James Stellhorn
Scottsdale, AZ

Dear FRONTLINE,

Hey I wanted to say it was a very good and to the point report. After seeing everything first hand and supporting the fight out here I think it is very wise to educate the American public and those who are no longer up to speed on what is going on and why it is happening like it is. Thank you for putting yours on the line to come out here with us to tell the story. I am not with Bravo but I am up there all the time with my crews saving lives. DUSTOFF

Jalalabad , Afghanistan

Dear FRONTLINE,

I served with the US Army in Afghanistan. I am proud of my service there because I made a difference. Was the difference small and insignificant, yes -- but it was a difference. Our military and other governmental agencies are improving the lives of Afghans everyday through governance, humanitarian aid and security operations. (If you have not been to Afghanistan, I understand that you would most likely disagree, but I have seen this with my own eyes.) The issue facing our nation is simple -- what else should we do, and how do we do it?

I understand how many Americans see a film like this and say things like "bring our troops home". The reality is that our troops and other government personnel, as well as the personnel from other nations are the only hope Afghanistan has. We must persevere, not for just our own self interests, but for the interests of the Afghan people. ...

Since 2003, the Afghans have had a voice in their government. It might not look like our version of democracy, but it works. So, do we now just go, 'oh well' and just abandon a country and its people? No, we must respond as a nation. ... The hard part is how to do this. Again, I would argue that all elements of our national power must engage in a cooperative effort to secure borders, provide security assistance and improve the humanitarian conditions of the Afghani population. It is my very humble opinion that the biggest challenge will be in getting the troop numbers correct -- too many troops and the Afghans will fear an invasion -- too few troops and you can't accomplish your goals. Lots of smart folks are working this -- let's hope they get it right.

For those who think the Taliban is OK and should be allowed to return to power -- would you say the same about the Khmer Rouge? The Taliban cooperated with Al Queda and provided support inhte attack on the US. That means the US has the right to defend itself and attack the Taliban -- no issues with international law. NATO activated its mutual defense requirements and has been involved in Afghanistan since 2001.

I challenge the readers of this blog to think about the impact of leaving Afghanistan. Use your intellect to examine the issue, rather than responding with some"he US is evil" knee jerk response. And remember, our Soldiers serve our nation and the people of our nation -- regardless of the mission.

Hampton, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

My son is serving in the Army in northeastern Afghanistan. Although I must admit that I have a heightened awareness of the situation because of this, I have always been one of many who has questioned why we have not put our focus and resources on this war instead of the war in Iraq. All of the money and lives lost in Iraq have still not been justified. ...

I am absolutely terrified for my son and all of our troops in Afghanistan. It is not that we are fighting someone better, for I believe we train our soldiers very well and they are truly there for one another, but we have put them into a lose-lose situation.

We must make the decision to fully commit or we need to get our troops out of there. This should be required viewing for Americans. They need to truly understand what is going on.

Suzette Davis
Apple Valley, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

This was a very interesting episode which brought to mind many different thoughts.1) It should be required viewing for whoever the next President and VP are.2)It is a very complex situation and I believe we certainly do not need a President or VP who will only see the problem as one of "Good" vs "Evil" we are all too familiar with where that got us....things are always much more complex and all aspects need to be carefully disected.3) Sadly, it looks like there are troubled times ahead for Pakistan.4) Once again we failed to learn from History. The Soviets couldn't conquer Afghanistan with an all out effort. How can we do it with a limited one?5) The Islamic extermists hate Western Countries because of our constant presence in their countries. We stop our dependence on their oil, our presence their goes way down, as would the hate. Of course the issue of Israel is another point...we can't just abandon them...

Alan Renga
San Diego, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

The most important goal for Pakistan for the new century is to see itself more an emerging Asian nation (similar to India and China) and less as simply a Muslim nation (which leaves it's power structure prey to extremist movements from within and from the outside of the country).

This is a difficult sell considering the whole reason Pakistan exists is because of a Muslim revolt with India. But the nation needs to think of it's 21st century needs and no longer continue to fight 20th century battles.

The best way the next administration can encourage this (besides beefing up military presence in Afghanistan to gut the effects of Taliban there) is to support the Zardari government and put pressure to maintain strong civilian institutions like strong courts that allow the citizens to see government working on their behalf and not on behalf of propping up strong military and religious leaders.

In the whole of the Muslim world, wherever the US props up military leaders and clerics over leaders who represent the needs of the Middle Class and the economic needs of the country, we fail.

The US government needs to stop seeing these nations as geo-political pawns used for our own strategic and resource purposes and help them expand their economies so that the citizens of these nations don't easily fall prey to extremism.

Kim Barker

Dear FRONTLINE,

1) Partition. Undo the arbitrary divisions done by the British. Allow Pushtun and other ethnic divisions to live together.

2) Isolation. Build a fence around Al Quaida and Taliban. The tribal area has them.... An impossible task, I'm sure. But necessary.

3) Establish an international task force to inventory and control nuclear weapons. NATO, diplomacy, direct intervention. Whatever it takes. Imperative! Once a terrorist gets hold of a bomb... everything changes.

4) Address grievances. The hardest of all. People are angry for a reason. In many cases these reasons cannot be equalized (see arbitrary British actions, above).... but, anger, retribution, suffering and terrorism will not stop until systems of reconciliation are established.

Bill Lieske
Phoenix, Arizona

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your years of insightful programming, without question the best on TV.

We must seal the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will loose the war if we continue to allow insurgents to re-supply across the border. The Saudi funded Madrasses will continue to brainwash kids to hate and kill as long as Wahhabism holds its grip on the Tribal Lands of Pakistan. As long as Saudi Arabia funds the insurgents and supplies them with weapons the war will continue.

The only chance we have is to make a ten mile free fire zone along the border with landmines, motion detectors and long range artillery. Burn and defoliate the free fire zone.

Robert Campbell
Anaheim, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

With the country in financial straights, the only one option is to bring all the troops home from all over the world, build up the military to secure our borders and missle defense system for rougue nukes so that another 9/11 does not occur and call it a day..

we are not going to get Bid Laden period. We can use our military spending at home. The is a new administration with a new direction and it does not have to follow the same old course as the neo-war mongers have in this country anymore.

Jack Wild
Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear FRONTLINE,

After viewing your documentary, I find myself questioning whether our forces are fighting the right kind of war. Clearly the winning strategy is not the killing of every Taliban, rather it is the protracted and difficult task of integrating into and changing the mind set of the local population to reject Taliban ideology, and back the government in Kabul. This is Nation building but at an enormous cost in lives and treasure.

Would we not be better off pulling out, letting the madness that is radical Islam be its own source of defeat? Let Pakistan, under a direct threat from radical Islam, send in their soldiers. Would Iran be comfortable with a renegade group of Sunni extremists as their neighbors? Let them respond as well. My point is that without US and NATO involvement (except surgically where there exists a direct threat such as an Al Qaeda training camp) the region would eventually stabilize. In the meantime while our enemies slaughter each other, we take the money we save and invest it in improving our security - better surveillance, intelligence, alternative energy and well the list goes on.

Greg Gibson
Nanaimo, British Columbia

Dear FRONTLINE,

... send in Nuke inspectors into Pakistan and get coordinance like they did in Iraq and bomb the nuke sites and take that part of the equasion out of the picture. Just a thought.

I feel for the troops and understand how hard their situation must be. This is the reason all countries must disarm. An eye for an eye leaves us all blind. One more reason Iraq was a stupid mistake. The fight was in Afgan.

Jeremy Wrolstad
Ithaca , ny

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posted october 28, 2008

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