Bush's War

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What reactions do you have to this retrospective on the war in Iraq? Are there lessons in it for us and for the next U.S. president?


First of all you Frontline has done a great job on this program and it is such a joy to be able to watch these programs for free online (especially for those of us who live outside the country).

The documentary is an example of great journalism and most undoubtedly right on. It is wonderful to see a subject so thoroughly investigated and to understand the course of events and the people involved. What I dont understand is why people get hung up on this? why can't people accept that Bushs war on Iraq was an act of power and and a decision made with deeper longer term geopolitical goals in mind. It put America's presence in a region considered very unstable (terrorism) and very powerful (for their oil reserves). Does anyone remember what those days were like after 9/11? We were a wounded and fearful nation. We would have been ready to go to war with anyone. It was a different state of mind.

Everything is so much easier to critize when the events of 9/11 seem so far in the past and nothing has happened to us since. Once we feel safe again we start to become very critical. I dont think anyone would doubt today that events were manipulated, but why cant people accept that and understand that the act to go to war with Iraq may have been done with deeper geopolitical goals in mind.

History will eventually tell whether Bushs war has created a better or a worse world. But I think the jury is still out on this one.

John Newbegin
Leon, Guanajuato


My compliments on Bush's War.

My question...Why did Cheney , Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld want war with Iraq so badly? I believe this is a question that needs to be answered.

Jonathan White
Missoula, Montana

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

Viewing online the program's first chapter , you'll find an embedded link in the video player (toward the end of this chapter) that links to a letter sent to Clinton in '98 laying out the neoconservatives' fixation on Iraq going back to the 1991 Gulf war. You also can explore many more articles, interviews on this subject in the Video Timeline of the site. See the fourth segment in this timeline. It focuses on Wolfowitz's draft of a new tough foreign policy for America that would deal with Iraq and the rest of the world. It was written soon after the Gulf war.


I was amazed viewing this segment of Frontline. I have been a viewer for many years and this story opened up a problem that is within our government. The people interviewed had high positions within the security, military and White House which gave a view that many people never heard. Was this war about WOMD's or oil? Well we found no WOMD's and we get no oil fro Iraq to help us out of the every increasing gas prices.

The lives of the men and women killed in this conflict seems to me to be a costly sacrifice for a war that was ill concieved.

Frontline did a fantastic job with this story and exposed the truth. Sometimes people can not handle the truth or get hurt by the truth. I hope that Frontline does a follow up on this story after the next presidential election.

Revere, MA


I have watched this program twice to fully absorb the perfect political storm it presents. I view the war in Iraq to be the second dumbest decision in American history right after the Dred Scott Decision which set the stage for the Civil War. As an avid student of history, I have always wondered how an intelligent populace can be snookered into doing evil and acting against its own best interest. I have always wondered how the German people bought the complete bilge sold to them by the Nazis in the 1930s but now I have a better idea how that propaganda was packaged to obtain buy-in.

The American people were sold the war in Iraq by some expert propagandists who placed the truth, justice and honor on the tail of their vainglorious plans to invade Iraq. This war was not caused by negligence but by the purposeful deceit and conniving propaganda machine build and maintained by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their fellow travelers. Since Bush was largely on-board from the beginning, he was an easy mark. I suggest the three of them be tried first for treason and then for war crimes.

Tim Murphy
Wenatchee, WA


All I wanted to say is "Thank you!"

Jun Chen
Oakland, California


Wonderful viewingAs an Aussie I feel ashamed that our ex Prime Minister John Howard dragged our nation into this fiasco. This whole mess has highlighted to me the importance of having another superpower on the world stage, and quickly. Hopefully China can continue its rapid rise if only to keep those rampant neo conservative bastards in Washington honest.

Ray D
Hong Kong, .


This was as good as a documentary can be on recalling and examining on what is a very important time in world and US history. Unfortunately, it does not bode well for us as Americans.

It is interesting to argue "where the buck stops" and if our President was "pushed" by certain members of his staff to this war, but it is not relevant right now. We did it. We invaded Iraq and started a war we absolutely had no right or reason to do so. Look at us now through the eyes of our neighbors. What do they see? Like it or not, we are the uncontrollable, arrogant bully on the block, acting without regard for others (let alone fellow citizens) behaving without a sense of values and morals, and worst of all, honor. What would our forefathers think? It is not good. What we do going forward is relevant. For one, I do not want another chapter of "Bush's War".

Watching this documentary clearly underscores that our elected and selected leaders did not or don't care what anyone else thinks or of the ramifications of their actions. How do they sleep at night? So many of our brave men and women put in harms way, killed and maimed, for what justifiable reason? Others have written that is criminal and I agree. Look at the interviews and review the tapes, this is not second guessing. The highest levels of leadership outright lied to us and the world. We have shown more concern, spent more money, and the press has been more zealous recently over athletes allegedly lying under oath of their use of steroids, than over what happened here in the Iraqi war. What does this say of the state of affairs in the United States? Where are our priorities? Everyone in this administration is accountable and so are we as citizens. We let this happen and continue to allow this behavior in Washington. Where are the inquests and investigations? Is it too late to call those responsible to task here?

Remember that this administration's highest approval ratings were recorded when these events were taking place and held up for quite some time afterwards. God forbid at the time if we questioned, protested or expressed a differing opinion. You would have been branded un-American, un-patriotic. But for a few in Washington, republicans and democrats either rubber stamped whatever came out of the White House or kept quiet, frightened by those large approval ratings and fearful for their jobs. Is that leadership? To poke at a current candidate's ad, the phone rang in 2001 and 2002, what did you do? You and most of your constituents did not answer it. Did we not see this happen in the 1950's with Senator McCarthy's anti-communism movement? Unfortunately, the stakes were much higher this time around. Let's face it, it is only very recently that some of us, including those in Washington, that have finally found the guts to come out and acknowledge we made a huge mistake.

We have work to do. Our children deserve more from us. Leadership and citizenship going forward must understand lessons learned here so they are not repeated. The voting public needs to take names, remember them and not forget the wonderful predicament we are in. Put aside party lines, liberal v. conservative, this crosses all boundaries. All elected officials have accountability here, republican and democrat, there is no excuse. While we may not be able to singularly change the course, together we can. We will be called to vote once again for a new Chief Executive this November, so what will it be? It is time to get back to basics; I seek the candidate who exhibits the highest personal values, is truthful, trusting, honorable, and competent and a real leader. Look at these candidates past and take note on how they exhibited leadership qualities, notably their stated position, decision and actions back when this administration lead us to this Iraqi war. Our phone is ringing, how will we answer?

Steve Rodriguez
Winnetka, IL


May I suggest a follow up program to your superb "Bush's War". It's the horrendous Iraqi refugee problem that Bush's War was directly responsible for. Over 2 million Iraqi men, women and children have lost their homes and livelihoods. They are living in surrounding countries who neither want them nor can support them. Their children often go without schooling, and are perfect future recruits of the Islamic terrorists. Even though the US caused this massive humanitarian crisis, we have offered virtually no aid to these refugees, and have admitted only a handful to the US. Even translators, nurses, doctors who worked with us have been denied admission or aid.

John Quatrini
Hatboro, Pa.


I don't know if it's possible, but can PBS buy time on the major networks to put this on for the entire country to watch and perhaps wake up? It should be mandatory viewing for every American to see this atrocity. For those of us who are informed it was a learning documentary, for those who still are uninformed it could change the pulse of our broken nation and perhaps unite us.

One other note to the schedulers if you put the episodes back to back could you start a little earlier so the five hours of viewing doesn't end in the early morning.

Terace Greene
Warwick, RI


I found Frontline interesting and informative but somewhat incomplete and misleading. On the positive side the interaction among the members of the President's cabinet; Rumsfeld's hubris; Brenner's creating policy without oversight; and the payoff of the Madr Army was fascinating.

I do question why so much pertinent information was left out. The overriding premise was that George Bush was attempting to "create" a reason to invade Iraq. Nowhere did I see the fact that Saddam Hussein refused on all occasions to allow nuclear weapons inspectors into his country. Hussein thought this was a high stakes game of poker that if the US thought he had weapons of mass destruction they wouldn't invade. He lost. Hussein violated all UN sanctions. The President and Congress acted on what they knew at the time

I wouldn't have relied so heavily on the hearsay of so many feckless, condescending career diplomats from the state department. Is there any wonder the Bush administration chose to freeze them out? Rather than serve the President these weasels refuse to implement any policy in the Middle East except appeasement. They think it's their job to leak information to the NY Times.

I was also disappointed that General Petraeus was not mentioned. You left the impression that Iraq has made very little improvement since the surge was implemented.

The emphasis on finding a moral equivalency between Guantanamo B ay with Iraq fascist terrorists who behead and mutilate their captives is disingenuous at best. There is a big difference between humiliation and torture. Personally I saw with my own eyes the Twin Towers fall. I lost 2 friends. I could care less how terrorist prisoners are treated. I much rather fight the terrorist in Iraq than in New York city.

God Bless America

Jim Lawler
Bergen County, New Jersey


During the late 1990s I read the neo-conservative position papers on the new world order that were either written or endorsed by Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, etc. I recall at the time feeling secure that their radical measures would never be broadly accepted in the United States. Yet a few years later they were put into action by the Bush Administration staffed by these same people.

When they first began making their case for the Iraq War, I knew they were serious. After all, they were only putting into action the plans they had outlined five years earlier.

My point is simply this -- if I, a woodworker living in Taos NM, understood what was going on, where were our "leaders" in the Democratic Party and the distinguished members of the press?

I cannot say that I saw through very fabrication used to justify the Iraq War. But I certainly was confident that Sadaam Hussein was not an Al Qaeda ally. I was sceptical of the claims concerning weapons of mass destruction. After all, the inspectors on the ground clearly stated that there was no evidence to support their existence. And, unlike Cheney and Wolfowitz, they did not have an axe to grind.

I also foresaw the quick victory and suspected that a resistanced movement would ensue. What I did not anticipate was the colossal ineptitude with which the war was executed. I suppose that was shortsighted since it was simply a reflection of the colossal arrogance of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and George Bush. But where were the Colin Powells once the decision to go to war was made?

This series was valuable for me primarily for its explanation of how the "realists" in the military and the Administration were coopted. It does present another question, however -- "Why didn't Powell or any of the others stand up to save our country from a horrible misadventure."

There are no heroes here. The media is as guilty as the Bush Administration, abjectly failing in their mission to provide the public with the truth. I think the only people who can hold their heads up are those of us who protested against the war, although we can't take much pride in our failure to influence events.

As I watched this series a nagging question began to form itself in my mind -- "What will become of us and our children?"

Bob Bresnahan
Taos, NM


After viewing Bush's War for the second time over the weekend, I felt compelled to comment. Frontline has done an extraordinary piece of reporting to expose the truth behind the Bush Administration's misguided foray into Iraq.

The two part program should have ended with the words "to be continued"; as "Bush's War" will continue to go on and on with its path of death and destruction. American lives and resources will continue to be wasted as any hope of ending it with a new administration next year will be dashed due to lack of courage as evidenced by the current congress.

I suggest as a possible solution for an end; is to reward George W. Bush for his leadership as President by honoring him with the appointment of being the first Ambassador to Iraq. He can populate his staff with all the members of his administration, both past and present, all living together in the grand palace that he had built as the American Embessy. There he can preach the virtues of democracy directly to the Iraqi people and not be relieved until "mission accomplished".

It's sad to say that the American voter has to wake up and stay engaged in order that this never happens again.

Craig Dziedzic
Hunterdon County, New Jersey


As an Iraq veteran I have a personal interest in understanding what exactly happened during the buildup and execution of the Iraq war. I am trying to understand exactly why our civilian leaders were willing to risk the lives of myself and my friends, just teenagers at the time, for their geopolitical polo match. Bush's War is one of the best journalistic pieces I have seen about the Iraq War and is helping me come to terms with understanding exactly how this fiasco happened. How were so many smart people in America fooled into following so blindly? I might have just been a sailor taking orders on the USS Abraham Lincoln, but the next time our President tries to take us into an unprovoked war, I hope that for our children's sake that people are willing to stand up and demand more proof than nationalist rhetoric.

Bret Funk
Warrensburg, Missouri


I understand that with President Bush, "The Buck Stops Here" so to speak and that he probably did want to invade Iraq but I also saw him asking his advisors, "Is this it?" I don't think he wanted it no matter what. I also saw that Chaney and Rumsfeld manipulated a lot of people and a lot of facts. Yes, many of the other comments are accurate also, Bush did appoint them, he could fire them but it isn't as easy as just firing someone in one of those positions.

Ultimately Bush approved and committed me and my fellow servicemen to war. But, as someone who has and is serving, I place the blame on Chaney and Rumsfeld. I suppose I could blame Bush for not standing up to those two bullies and for not digging deeper. But, I understand that as a president, He cannot go investigating all of the facts he bases his decisions on, on every issue. Yeah we are talking about the war right now but remember, he is still running the country so the war was just one part. That is why he hires advisors and other cabinet members. Problem is, he hired the wrong ones. Still it is his fault for doing that but again, as the president; he had to trust his advisors to give him good information and good advice. Rumsfeld and Chaney reminded me of Rasputin of Russia.

To those of you out there who are so dead set against the war and are so filled with hatred for President Bush, I implore you, please try to put that aside and view this production with some objectivity. When Bush leaves office in a few months, who are you going to hate then?

Ryan A
Alexandria, VA


We can take two definite things out of this program. One is that we have on one hand people in power with ill intentions, and on the other hand no one equipped with the courage to stop them. Congress and the Senate acted very irresponsibly and basically handed over all control to the executive branch. Congress is specifically given the Constitutional power to declare war. The President does not have the authority to declare war, but with no one to stand in his way he can do whatever he wants. The system of checks and balances has failed and the end result will be tragic.

The second thing we can take out of this is that the more power our government has does not ensure our safety. We've seen ineptitude and abuse on a wide scale. Because of power struggle their is no insurance of the truth, and the public's opinion is one of distrust. Incidents at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib do not sit well with the public and things like the Patriot Act and the REAL ID Act will gain opposition. American's are beginning to see through White House Rhetoric and are finding foreign policies that do not work.

The question we are left with is what new mistakes will be made in the next presidency, and what will voters overlook in the urgency for finding a candidate that represents change. We need be wary of change just for the sake of change and take precautions in what directions we will move towards. This November Bush's War falls into the hands of the American people.

Benjamin Andrews
Palmdale, CA


Just watched first part of Bush's War. This is a fantastic program providing insight that we have not had previous knowledge of that played significantly in the decision to enter the Iraq war. It has justified my personal thoughts that, although Sadaam is not a model leader and has done some horrific things, even to his own people, there was no strong evidence of his direct involvement in the 9/11 attacks to support invasion of this country. The U. S. should have concentrated their initial efforts in Afganistan as it appeared that CIA involvement provided opportunities that could have possibly captured or killed Osama Bin Laden early on. It also shows concerns by Bush administration officials that war in Iraq would destabilize the region and would require a more massive military involvement that they promoted in the media.

Steve Peterson
Ballwin, Missouri


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posted march 24, 2008

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