join the discussion

photos of president bush, explosion, and generals in iraq
What do you take away from this report chronicling four years of tactical and strategic mistakes in Iraq?   Are you hopeful about the 'surge' of new troops - a final effort to secure victory?


Another great job by Frontline. However your experts failed to cover one of the main root causes of our inability to conduct successful stability operations in Iraq, and win the Peace.Aside from a total lack of any planning for post conflict stability operations in Iraq, there is a second root factor preventing winning the Peace.

That root factor is a "Warfighter" insurgency within the U.S. Army that is highly resistant to conducting anything but kinetic operations. Despite DOD Directive 3000.5, and the other directives that preceded it, pre-deployment training, effectively using Civil-Affairs, and Civil-Military Operations to conduct training in Phase IV stability operations, has been consistently minimized to the point where we now find ourselves in the position of not being able to transition to Post Conflict Stability Operations in Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter. Quite simply, we can't train the Iraqis to secure the Peace, because we aren't training the U.S. Army to do that either.

So the end result is that while the Army "Warfighters" pay great lip service to DOD Directive 3000.5, they continue to actually avoid providing the training necessary to stand up a successful Phase IV campaign. Not only do current CTCs not provide in-depth Phase IV training, but the ability to plan for Phase IV operations simply just does not exist Army wide.

The Warfighter Insurgents remain totally committed, despite DOD Directive 3000.5, to building more BCTs to conduct kinetic operations. These Warfighter Insurgents fully believe that they can out wait their civilian leadership, and remain totally committed to "point and shoot" as the best way to bing about stability.

Stephen Henthorne
Williamsburg, Virginia


Thanks for showing this. I watched this presentation and wanted to thank you for putting in the effort to talk with military experts and officials for their input. Excellent work.

Now if only we could get you guys to look at the HUNDREDS of members of Saddam Hussein's regime who have been caught working for al Qaeda since 2002 (as documented at

Keep up the great work guys.

Mark Eichenlaub
Mokena, Illinois


End Game was another excellent report in your series on Iraq. One thing struck me as I was watching your show however. On the one hand you had the military under Rumsfeld, Generals Abizaid and Casey not really having a plan to defeat the insurgency, rather just managing it until they could build up Iraqi security forces and hand off the fight to them. On the other hand, you had President Bush constantly talking about victory. That seemed to be a basic disconect between the commander and chief and his troops, yet you never asked any of your sources about this.

Joel Wing
Berkeley, California

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

Indeed, Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) makes this very point . It comes about halfway down the page of his interview which is published on this site.


I really appreciated the program, thank you for your reporting. When we first went into Iraq I was pretty sure we'd be there for 10 years if we were there a day. But it was also clear to me from the way the administration talked during the preamble to the war that they were going to do it and that was all that was on their minds.

Reading the interviews on your web site I am very concerned about how weakened our military is right now. If we exhaust our military to the point of breaking on this mission and fall short, then what? I do not see how this fight can continue without a draft and an infusion of many more forces. This would take a years to implement and would seem to be impossible given the current state of public opinion.

Yugoslavia imploded after Tito was gone, then after years of bloodletting a political solution emerged with intervention from the international community. I believe Iraq might follow the same path eventually and maybe it is better for us to just get out of the way and let that happen. At some point the international community will have to come back but until the Iraqis have sated their bloodlust there seems little chance for nation building.

Dave Edmonson
Rochester, MN


You are to be commended for the "Endgame" documentary. However, I believe the lack of a post-invasion military plan could be better understood in the context of the zeitgeist that has permeated the Pentagon since Desert Storm.

Specifically, it was the leadership's fascination with high technology as a future of warfare that led everyone to dismiss the likelihood of an insurgency. Insurgency's aren't defeated with high technology: they require "boots on the ground" and knowledge of the local political, social, and economic factors.

Georgetown, TX


Why are we failing to find an effective strategy?

We have not failed to find a strategy to bring a successful close to Iraq. Most strategic analyst would tell you in close doors that we need to widen the war, yet they do not have the intellectual courage to mention that in public due to the threat of professional blowback stemming from the current political climate in the United States. You want to bring a close to Iraq, eliminate the external centers of gravity where the Iraqi insurgency originates from in the first place, Iran and Syria.

This does not mean that I do not place any blame on this administration either, but my criticisms are nothing so sophomoric or partisan politically motivated as what has been spewed by the swimming pool socialist hijacked dnc for the past 4 years.


PS I am a veteran of 14 years with formal academic training in the area of security studies / counter terrorism from Georgetown University. I can say from my experience that most of my military buddies dispise the effect the DNC has had on our effort in Iraq and find it completely disingenuous that they postulate such partisan motivation sedition under the dubious auspices of "caring for the troops". If you truly cared about us you would not have betrayed my buddies in attempts to orchestrate a situation that is facilitative to your partisan agenda.

Jeffrey Cappella
buffalo, ny


Who is anyone kidding here? We have no intentions of leaving Iraq anytime soon. We now have over a dozen permanent bases already constructed or under construction in the middle east, capable of holding thousands of soldiers. I know people who have served in Iraq and one of them mentioned that alot of the oil pipelines are owned by Halliburton. Our troops will stay over there until all of the petroleum infrastructure is owned by Halliburton.

In ten years, we will look back on a death toll of 3500 and laugh. The insurgency will never be quelled and I will bet anyone that 10,000 U. S. casualties will become the milestone in this sad concoction of greed, corruption and manipualtion. Sleep well my friends.

Doug Wilke
Waupaca, WI


No Mr. Zelikow, Iraq is not our problem... we are Iraq's problem, and we should end this illegal war and occupation immediately, for their sakes. They have suffered enough from America's brand of "freedom and democracy"...

Gerard A
Madison, WI

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

Philip Zelikow's extended interview is published on this Web site. He was a confidante and senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Rice, and visited Iraq at her request roughly a dozen times.


I watched with interest (and dismay) your broadcast of ENDGAME. I am currently teaching a course on the Vietnam War, and I plan to show this report on the last day of class. My students will have little trouble seeing parallels between the folly in Vietnam and the fiasco in Iraq. W's declarations of victory are eerie echoes of LBJ's.

John Bayer
St. Louis, Missouri

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

See the "THEMES" section of this Web sites for the differing lessons experts see in comparing the Iraq war to Vietnam.


Endgame did not include a few important facts.

1. Money. How much is the Iraq war costing us? Who is making a profit? Follow the money and report please.

2. Life. How many dead and injured in the Iraq war. Accurate American and Iraqi numbers. Report please.

How much is human life worth to our government? Endgame II anyone?

Scott Heustis
Lakewood, CA


Maybe there has been no failure. If the purpose was to take Iraq's oil and make money for military contractors then it's almost a success.

Cheney and Halliburton have certainly made money.

The only thing remaining is the passage of the oil law in Iraq's parliament that would allow for foreign ownership of up to 2/3 of Iraq's oil.

mike wheaton
miami, fl


Whatever represents victory in Iraq, we must find a way there. As insane as that may sound in the face of all this destruction, we cannot abandon the position that freedom from the religious tyranny is worth all of this and more. We cannot allow an enemy like this to win, not under any circumstance.

What discourages me more than anything else is not the stupid mistakes we have made, but that we do not understand that it is not only the freedom of Iraqis that is at stake.

Erin Simpson
Tucson, Arizona


Frontline: Endgame elicited frank admissions from the top brass that the civil war that ensued after the defeat of the Hussein regime had not been anticipated and therefore no preventive measures had been planned. The admissions were not accompanied by any reflection. One only has to recall that civil war broke out after Saddam's first defeat sixteen years ago. Those outright rebellions in the north and the south were quickly suppressed after his remaining forces were allowed to retain or get their weapons back, especially attack helicopters.

bob smith
chilliwack , british columbia canada


Congratulations, Frontline, on a very well done program. You have contributed mightliy to the chronicles of the whole tragedy. The ultimate answer to the questions of why we went to war, who we went to war for, whose interests were served by this war, and why the American people were so entirely duped into doing it, - those answers will be well served by your reporting. Thank you.

Christy Magnuson
Redmond, Washington


Kagan had enormous power - a man who never served in a war, never saw battle. Was Frontline afraid to describe him as a neo-con and why did Frontline describe the hard right American Enterprise Institute as bipartisan in the Kagan bio?

The most important statement was terming the occupation of Iraq as 'war tourism' by the Washington Post's war correspondent.

All in all a good documentary except for glossing over the influence of the neo-cons and their dreams of Empire.

Victoria, BC, Canada


Iraq is a battle , Afganistan is a battle.Admitting defeat in Iraq does not mean we lose the war. Leaving Iraq while our military is not completely broken is smart not cowardice.Our mere presence in Iraq causes more problems than it solves.Americans tend to think our enemies are stupid. Like in world war 2 americans pushed the fact Japanese had sqint eyes and therfore couldnt possibly shoot well. We need to get out of this mindset Iraq needs us to survive. Iraq will survive no matter what we do.I do believe if we stay in Iraq our real enemy will only get stronger and insurgents will forge stronger bonds with AQ.

As one Insurgent said " We hate americans but hate al qaeda more and hate iran the most."

Todd Rohrer
Stuart, Florida


home . introduction . watch online . interviews . timeline . themes . join the discussion
producer's chat . readings & links . site map . dvd & transcript . press reaction
credits . privacy policy . journalistic guidelines . FRONTLINE series home . wgbh . pbs

posted june 19, 2007

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
main photograph © corbis, all rights reserved
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation