The Lost Year in Iraq [home page]
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What do you think of this report on the first crucial year in Iraq following the fall of Saddam's regime? Could Jay Garner or Paul Bremer have done anything?


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for presenting a good look at the first year in Iraq. My only complaint which is not the fault of Frontline, is that we can state hindsight is 20/20 if we did this differently then the insurgency wouldnt have happened. YET, how can we state that if we did it the other way that the same result or even worse wouldnt of happened? I believe in the war against terror, and think history will be our judge if it was truly correct to go there. Yet, history will not tell us what would of been the best action because the other way was not done.

Harrold Gates
Minneapolis, MN

Dear FRONTLINE,

Nice program, but you did leave alone the issue of why Bush was anxious to turn over sovereignty so quickly. The U.S. as an occupying power was limited by international law -- an occupying power is not allowed to loot and pillage, and it cannot coerce the occupied country into onerous contracts that sell off vital assets. Once sovereignty was transferred, the troubled new government could make deals with U.S. corporations. Given the level of duress that the new government faced, those deals meant very favorable terms for the corporations. In short, hunting season started June 30.

Al Christians
Portland, Oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

Large numbers of Japanese and German soldiers and officials retained their posts following VE and VJ Day in 1945 and thereafter. At that time our Occupational Authority was military in nature and understood that civil order was mandatory in the interim. Douglas MacArthur wrote the Japanese Constitution and is much admired to this day in that peaceful land. Jay Garner was capable of the same in Iraq.

But Iraq provided an opportunity for rewarding campaign loyalists and contractors. Donald Rumsfeld will not be upstaged, and even the President of the United States lacks the will to reign him in. The best day of Bremer's life was his last day in Iraq.

Somewhere in between you have Eisenhower and Truman, who knew how to handle responsibility and authority.

Dale Torgerson
Stacy, MN

Dear FRONTLINE,

Congratulations on a powerful program, too painful at times to watch.

My heart goes out to the parents whose sons or daughters are still over there or whose precious lives were lost because of the appalling arrogance and incompetence of the political and military leadership.

Frank White
Windsor, Ontario

Dear FRONTLINE,

This was a great program, which is generally true of Frontline. If the contents had been known, broadcast, analyzed and discussed by PBS and other networks at the time, we would have been completely out of Iraq that first July. ...

I don't recall a single news network mentioning how incompetent and under qualified the occupation authority staff was at every level, not just the top.

This program goes to show why PBS should be completely independent of any Presidential Administration. Perhaps what is called for is only allowing gradual change in appointees to PBS, such as happens with the Federal Reserve Board. ...

Walter Johnson
Vancouver, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was so thoroughly appalled by the incomprehensible incompetence at the highest level of our government, that I began to seriously question your objectivity and began to look for weaknesses in the reporting. Finding none, it struck me, how can the story be told any other way?

Tom Murphy
Atlanta, GA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was completely taken aback by the reality of how poorly run the Iraq war was (and is) being run. Thank you for putting this program on the air (I'm sure you'll be called Un-American for it) as its a real eye-opener.

I hope you can rerun the program so every American can have a second chance to see it.

Thank you for putting forth an intelligent program on the subject of Iraq.

(p.s. Paul Bremer and Michael Brown (FEMA) seem to be made from the same mold. Are they frat brothers?)

Steve Capan
New Providence, New Jersey

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you Frontline for this report. The most tragic fact is that the three years which Bremer wanted from President Bush to organize a thorough and detailed transfer of power have now passed and we are in the same place we were were when Bremer left. 1,500 more Americans are dead and thousands more maimed and we are in the same place we were when he left. It is scandalous that the same people who say the opponents of the war want to "Cut and Run" are the same people who were trying to get us out within 4 months of the invasion. The neo-cons wanted to "Cut and Run" in the first place, so they didn't plan anything in detail. Tragic.

John Storck
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear FRONTLINE,

The detail provided and the views expressed by many of the main players in this debacle have just reinforced my opinion of the ineptitude of your leader and those he has surrounded himself with.

Brian Havelock
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Dear FRONTLINE,

This show really left me in a lurch. Where do we go from here? I don't think the present administration knows or cares. I think they gave Bremer a medal for getting George W. reelected, for guaranteeing Haliburton another four years of no-bid profits, and for helping Rumsfeld to top off his ego tank for retirement. Lost in all that was the way Colin Powell was used, was the plundering of the assets and morale of the military, and how America's good name was squandered before the world. We only have ourselves to blame. May I suggest that the state of denial extends far beyond the White House?

Harry Kelley
Medford, Oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

Very good documentary. Leave it to a public TV network to do the real investigating. Can't believe the Big networks couldn't jump on this. But then it would have taken twice as long while the anchors got their "camera" time.

Another angle I whish you could have explored was the attempt by Bremer to privatize Iraq and sell all its companies to American corporations. In "Baghad Year Zero," Harpers magazine Sep 2004, Naomi Klein provides some good reasons why Bremer fired the Baathists and disbanded the Iraqi military.

Finally I think you didn't show enough gore. Because that is what armed conflict produces. If Americans watched Mosaic (news casts from middle eastern tv networks) on Link TV, and saw the tragic suffering of civilians caused by so called "advanced" nations, they would be ashamed.

Wayne Malchow
Chicago, IL

Dear FRONTLINE,

The Lost Year In Iraq is an insightful and fair report by Frontline of the Bush administration's misteps in Iraq. While there are many reasons for the current Iraq crisis The Lost Year implies accurately that fault lies with the admninistration's narrow minded political agendas.

These include the president forcing Bremer to fast track passing authority to Iraqis by US presidential election time in 2004 and Rumsfeld essentially doing everything on the cheap in a conservative, CEO-minded manner (e.g. minimimal troop numbers, lack of thorough contingency planning, limited post-war planning, and, although not mentioned, rapid invasion and regime overthrow without supporting stabilization forces) to avoid getting bogged down Clinton-style as he thinks the U.S. military has been in the Balkans.

With the Bush administration making many critical decisions based on political concerns at home rather than made based on well informed situational analysis it is no wonder Iraq is in such turmoil. Thank you for your reporting.

Jonathan Speare
Missoula, MT

Dear FRONTLINE,

Another excellent Frontline presentation, which I thought was balanced, for example the interviews with Bremer and Ricks, who represent different views of Iraq. It is easy for the arm chair types of us in the U.S. to judge mishaps and events in Iraq, so I am hesitant to be too critical. Yet, I am amazed at what seems to be such poor planning and judgement on the part of our national leaders, e.g. Rumsfeldt, Bush, etc.

Example: Abu Graib has got to be the one of gravest mistakes the U.S. has ever made in a war, and this was depicted succinctly in the program. How could we have so missed the opportunities to win hearts and minds in Iraq? Ironic too given that Wolfowitz and others truly believe they are doing this to create American values and democracy in this tortured part of the world.

charles barnwell
anchorage, alaska

Dear FRONTLINE,

Funny that some people are repulsed by images of what happens to the people in Iraq and our military on a daily basis. The guy that said that he turned the tv should have the guts to watch this stuff and see it for what it is..

Andy Stevens
Tucson, Arizona

Dear FRONTLINE,

This is disinformation of the worst kind: lies of omission. This is yet another whitewashed story of the "incompetence" of this administration. Painting Bremer as a well-meaning but unqualified viceroy conveniently places blame while obscuring the fact that the so-called Iraq war is ultimately about controlling the flow of oil.

I'm disappointed with PBS.

Rick Jones
Los Angeles, CA

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posted oct. 17, 2006

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