I recently spoke with a friend of mine who I was stationed with during my years on active duty. He has done two tours in Iraq and is waiting for his third. I have heard of his accounts and others, and frankly it is troubling.
The misfortune of our leaderships romanticised ideas of riding into Iraq and completely tearing apart a country's military, public works and educational system is just plain dumb. If only the egos of George and his buddies could have been set aside and people with actual knowledge of how to run a country's, educational system, healthcare system, public works and military would have been invited to develop a plan maybe, just maybe life would be a little better to the average Iraqi and American soldier...
Maybe if our leaders consulted with such experts we would not have the problems we have in our own country as well.
What was one of the comments earlier? something about this production being a one sided liberal rant or something?!?!?
I'd like to know what/how you think this story could be sweetened with any other view or perspective. It's painfully obvious they had no plan and the reason things are so bad now is in no small part b/c of this 1st year.
I'd like to know how anyone can still back this administration. He was elected on the ideals of establishing an administration to be held to account. I see no accountability anywhere.
Take off your partisan glasses - YOUR politicians are literally getting away with murder.
It is not surprising that people who do not believe in government struggled to put one together in a foreign country.
Governments tax their people for a reason. It costs money to maintain order and provide services.
The Bush administration, like many Republican administrations, came to power believing that government is wasteful and unnecessary. That is why it believed that the private market could take hold in Iraq and that the country would simply run itself.
This kind of nation-building on-the-cheap has a price. One we will continue to pay for years to come.
I have been, and continue to be a supporter of President Bush and our efforts to effect a positive change in the Middle East. This piece was very difficult to watch. I believe that it contains much truth, but it obviously manipulates the viewer and, unfortunately, only provides one point of view. Even so, I came away deeply disappointed in the efforts of our government.
We have undoubtedly made grave mistakes in the Iraq, but we have never fought a war or tried to achieve a peace like this before. If we do not constantly remind ourselves just how difficult and important a task that we are trying to achieve in Iraq, then we will surely be unsuccessful. Throwing our hands up in dispair and disgust will get us nowhere, and we will all pay a much greater price later on.
It's about time the media got a backbone, and reported on the utter incompetency of this administration. This needs to be copied and dropped on the door step of every Bush-loving flag-waving citizen who blindly follows the heard. PBS and the producers have gained the greatest respect and appreciation that our voices (the voices of over half of the citizens of this nation that did not vote for this administration ) are finally being heard.
Michael Kirk must be congratulated for an amazing production. The content was excellent, and Kirk presented a balanced non-partisan view of events. Without wanting to diminish the content, I want to congratulate him on the execution and artistic quality of the production. The still footage was amazing - Bremer pulling on the boots, Rice pouting at Rumsfelt. Thank you PBS - I'll check to ensure that my membership is up to date.
I have been a sporadic viewer of PBS. The other night I found myself watching the Frontline special on the Iraq war. Talk about a "left wing" bias- WOW!!! How many interviews can they have with the Washington Post liberal writers? Of course they did not give a balanced approach by including any contributors from the National Review or US News and World Report. In fact they did not even give the principals, Paul Bremmer, etc. a chance to speak on their behalf to counter the main points of the program. It was just all bad news. Certainly mistakes were made but that is a byproduct of making decisions but how about some balance. The timing of this show is also interesting, pre-election and more slamming the Bush administration.
I have the pleasure of working as a consultant for some military installations and have met many soldiers who served in Iraq. The story in our US press, according to them is all death and destruction and does not tell the story from the ground. What a shame, what happened to objective reporting?
My hope is that the Federal Government eliminates the funding for PBS completely given the clear bias of the adult news programming.
I learned a number of upsetting things I did not know before. I'm still shaking my head in frustration & amazement. Several of the posts here refer to the incompetence of the highest officials in this matter. What disturbs me more than that thought is this. I do not believe those in ultimate charge (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) were that ignorant of the possibilities in Iraq (well, maybe with one exception). These men have tons of experience. And if they are not incompetent & ignorant, then why did they do things the way they did?
What were their true motives for the choices they made and for doing almost the opposite of the logical, sensible recommendations they were offered for Iraq policy? It's a very disturbing thing to ponder. Bring in Henry Kissinger, the architect of that wonderful debacle called Viet Nam, (as we are now learning they have) and you have an excellent possibility for disaster. Someone is benefitting somewhere. Will we ever know what is really going on?
What about the rise and fall of Ahmed Chalabi? He was expected to become "Our Man In Baghdad." The Bush administration relied heavily on his self-serving briefings, now discredited and mostly forgotten. I think he had a lot to do with the naive, misguided handling of the invasion and occupation.
FRONTLINE's editors respond:
This program answered many questions I had about the birth of the insurgency. The unmitigated arrogance of the Cheney-Bush-Rumsfeld-Ashcroft-Bremmer regime is appaling. The tragedy is the lost lives of 650,000 lives including 3,000 Americans and the wounding of 12,000 Soldiers, half of which are life changing, (amputees, Head trauma,Brain damage)I certainly hope this opened peoples eyes and will fuel the opinions in the next election. Bless you for exposing the lies and coruption in the world and expresly our Government!
Readers/viewers who wish to learn a more (complete) factual account of Bremer's reign need to investigate his neoconservative economic agenda during this time. Shame on PBS for only allowing vague references to this in the interviews used in the film (e.g., a brief reference to the flat tax edict in the interview with Rajiv Chandrasekaran). So many questions about his actions went unexplored. Why did Bremer insist on banning trade unions? Why were native Iraqi industries ignored in favor of multinationals? This is just scratching the surface.
The American people can't understand the insurgency unless documentaries can be seen that are willing and courageous enough to explore the economic motivations as well as the political/ideological motivations for war. Unfortunately, they didn't get that here. I find it highly distressing that Frontline ignored these issues, and I can only speculate on the reasons why.
Thank you for your contribution to the 'war effort'. With 20/20 insights from the authors of Fiasco, Cobra II, Imperial Life Inside the Emerald City and the disgruntled views of Richard Clark and Paul Bremmer, "Fair & Balanced" doesn't come to mind. A "hit piece" does. ("You're doing a hell of a job Jay - Let's go work out").
Churchill could have used your investigative journalism' after Dunkirk and the 'first crucial year'. But then he had his Joseph Kennedys and the isolationist Americas to deal with too. History proved them wrong and although your vote is in, the jury is still out on "the vast American neo-Conservative experiment in Iraq".
"10,000 lemmings can't be wrong"
A skillfully edited and well-written documentary but missing important information. If you were limited by time constraints you could have cut down on some of the opinions of interviewees in exchange for real information.
For example, there was no mention of the State Department's lengthy post-invasion plans prepared by teams of experts, including those with extensive knowledge of the history and culture of the region. This plan was apparently rejected in favor of Rumseld's. You did not inform viewers of Rumsfeld's actual plan, which centered around Ahmed Chalabi, a man wanted at the time by the justice system of Iraq's neighbor Jordan, to face a conviction for massive bank fraud.
Too many close-ups of faces giving their personal views and not enough information with which viewers would form their own views. (I hope you are not following the trend in American TV news whereby viewers receive 1 minute of real information for every five minutes of someones opinion about that small piece of information.)
One could also come away from the documentary believing that Bush's noble vision of bringing peace, freedom, prosperity and democracy to the Middle East was brought down by bickering fools who failed their president. But who rejected the State Department's occupation and reconstruction plans in favor of Rumsfeld's? The president. Rumsfeld was as powerful as Bush wanted him to be. Bush was curiously absent from your presentation, insulating him from being associated too strongly with this catastrophe. Cheney's involvement was barely mentioned and absolutely non-specific.
If Bush really did leave all thinking and decision making to his subordinates, is this level of disengagement from something as crucial as invasion and occupation normal conduct in a presidency? Interviews with presidential historians might have put things into perspective.
FRONTLINE's editors respond:
I have worked in the Middle East and for Arabs and found them unique and very different in the ways. To send people there with such limited amount of experience whether Viceroys or not, it is no different than the FEMA situation encountered here
There is almost no chance for anyone to have succeeded there, Bremer, Garner or anyone. If you have ever worked in an environment where cronism and nepotism are rampant you know that it is a policy of failures and problems of always ending with the wrong people at the wrong place in time. God or Allah or anyone could have been there and the clowns in the Bush fraternities would sooner or later undermine them.
This is a horror show. They are going to kill all the soldiers and no one is going to want to go in the military because of these bums.
Thank you for this honest, unbiased report. With all the party-line propaganda other 'news' agencies have been disseminating, your accounting seemed accurate, and giving the players the opportunity to speak in their own words was fair and allowed for a more thorough accounting.
Having served in Iraq in 2004, much of this was not new to me. I didn't know all the details, but even at my level, I could see what went wrong in that year. Of all the good projects and rebuilding that was done on the ground, it's just a few key mistakes and political in-fighting that reuined the hard work of the teams on th ground.
I've sent this to everyone I served with in Iraq. This was well worth the effort.
... Never will I forget the CNN clip of the angry faces of a group of Baghdad policemen when they were informed that there was no pay for them, and that their jobs were gone because they were Ba 'athists collabborators(sp). As a former Army Infantryman, I felt a sickening dread for our ground troops because of the hate and rage shown by those cops. I could not understand why our leaders would not see the consequences of rubbing the noses of a proud people into the dung heap, as they were doing to those cops 2003 Iraq? But then, our leaders and their conservative righteous elites do not serve in the grunt Infantry units , so how could they understand! God bless and protect our troops, I pray for them every night.
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