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?


Frontline dropped the ball in Endgame. I am disappointed. Rummy got a 'get out of jail free" card in this documentary. The statement that the "liberals" don't recognize Rumsfeld as an ally because he kept a "light footprint in Iraq so he could pull out of Iraq ASAP" is just so much BS! Where is your proof that was his 'endgame?' Not one iota of evidence is documented. Not one!

What did come across loud and clear is that what went wrong and continues to go wrong in this conservative oriented political administration is how leaderless it really is! This is an administration run by a headless committee with no commander-in-chief. The only thing George W. Bush learned at Yale was how to cheer on the team, not how to call the plays.

D. C. General
Corpus Christi, TX


Thank you for airing this program. I'm recommending it to everyone I know who is at all interested in the politics of the Iraq war. Watching it was eye-opening and disheartening. My opinion of Bush has fallen even further, and I didn't think that was possible. For our country, and for Iraq, I hope it isn't too late; but it's clear that this was a monumental misjudgment from the very beginning that will adversely affect our country for many years to come.

Lynn Waterbury
Spokane, WA


I watched Endgame online last night. I was taken aback by the program's conservative tone.

But why should PBS lie? Frederick Kagan is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute alright, but AEI is certainly NOT nonpartisan. It's a very conservative think tank. And to think that Kagan influenced government policy that produced "the surge," is another example of Bush's incompetence.

I think the attitude Frontline/PBS wanted viewers to come away with was: "well...might as well face facts...we're gonna be in Iraq a long time." That does not have to be the case. And why not present the case for leaving? Leaving Iraq was presented as not an option. BS! I saw no contrary opinions during this whole program.

And what did a panelist say? That Don Rumsfeld was acting in the Democrats best interests? Give me a break.

Endgame, in my humble opinion, was the manufacture of consent.

Al Tim
Ponte Vedre, fl


I believe we have no choice but to stay until we fix what we broke. Here is my reason why we have not and may not succeed.

I have spent the past two years with Sunni Muslims here in Tennessee. The disconnect they have with our Government is as wide as the Grand Canyon. I as an African American man, I was challenged to understand and fit in to their groups and families.

I did eventually get to know many of them very well. Visiting their homes and eating their foods and debating and discussing politics, economics, and religion love, hate the whole nine yards.

The problem is clear, it's the same one that Blacks, Indians, Hispanics, and other minorities have in this country and many cities world wide. The good old boy mentality, persona of our system of government fuels distrust. America is supposed to be a land of diversity and tolerance, but our media and television are very un-American. We paint a picture of the Iraqi's as being like children that need our guidance and wisdom to make decisions, when actually they do not and when you speak with them it is almost comical the stories of the way Americans interact with them. They think we are kind of stupid.

Actually we are not, but our ignorance of other cultures and our arrogance of thinking everyone wants to be like us and we are the best puts us a distinct disadvantage. That is why our generals and leaders continue to underestimate the enemy.

America has isolated itself from the rest of the world even in our high schools. China, Japan, India, Canada and many other countries have surpassed us in Reading, Science, and Math.These critical errors in judgment of under funding schools and allowing our metropolitan areas to decay all these factors are connected and we are now paying that price by trying to develop cities in another country on the fly when we have failed in understanding and developing our own. Most of the generals and politicians live in Suburban communities that shun and neglect the cities.

Now they want to try and figure out the people in inner cities in another country! The Sunni Muslims and the Shia Muslims do not trust our leaders because they look at the model here in America and they do not want that for themselves and their children. Our TV programs and commercials have women practically butt naked, cursing, no prayer in the schools, sex everywhere. When the Muslims came to Nashville the white people at the government agencies told them to stay away from the Black neighborhoods. They told me this and we all laughed.

Jeff Norman
Gallatin, TN


The "Endgame" in Iraq will be achieved only when the civilian and military leadership is able and willing to admit failure and withdraw US forces.

Then a process of historical assessment should begin bringing civlian and military leaders who are responsible for this tragedy to some form of judgment. It is a sad fact that only now, when the endgame may be near, that a brilliant military leader, GEN David Petraeus, has been given command.

Robert Berlin
Prescott, AZ


Without commenting on the allegations that the reporting in "End Game" had a right wing or "surge" bias, I think the piece succeeded in conveying the mind numbing complexity and extraordinary desperation of the situation that has evolved in Iraq.

Anyone who claims to have a high degree confidence in one strategic solution over another should be suspect of having ulterior motives. I don't think anyone can know if troop escalation (or "surge") is the right thing to do. The fact is that Iraq before the invasion was a problem with no easy solution; after the invasion it is a disaster that may not have any solution.

Before we can even have a discussion about what the best course of action in Iraq is, we need to establish what the current objective should be. The fundamental question is do the American people want to commit to cleaning up the mess we've created or cut their losses and leave Iraq's future to whatever fate it will naturally find? Neither are attractive options and neither are good platforms to get re-elected on; it's unfortunate that a realistic public discussion on this issue will never occur.

Chris Leidel
Franklin, MA


There is a way out of Iraq. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "protect the Sunni minority." While protecting that minority, ensure that the Sunnis who engage in violence against the Shia are punished. But once the Sunni realized that the Shia will not be allowed to seek retribution for the Saddam years, they will settle down. And as they settle down, they will break away from Al Qaeda, which wants nothing less than civil strife. The more civil strife, the less faith there is in the central government and in the U.S.

The so-called "surge" will not work because it cannot be continued indefinitely. "Clear, hold and build" can also only be limited to a small part of the country while Al Qaeda makes mischief in other parts. Protecting 20% of the population against 60% of the population (the Kurds are in their own world) will require fewer number of troops.

"Protect the Sunni minority." That's the only winnable strategy. See you in 5 years when the U.S. finally gets it.

Jorge Ovalle
Bloomington, IL


Iraq: I thought it was wrong when we were ordered to begin planning air attacks in January 2003. I thought it was wrong as we watched our attacks at work on Fox news (a network I never watch at home). I think it's wrong now. What upsets me most is the lack of accountability. Our rich and powerful public servants say that they take full responsibility for their failed performance, and then it's business as usual. Perhaps we Americans deserve this loss, and the ones yet to come.

Frank Morales
Honolulu, Hawaii


I was in Oman watching the news when the war started. All the Omani guys immediately said, "The Americans are in trouble now." Is it surprising that what was obvious to them was unimaginable in America?

Americans in general, and our leaders in particular, tend to be over-confident and ignorant at the same time. Add to that a deepset faith in our own inherent goodness and you can see the formula - willful blindness and self-delusion - for this insufferable fiasco.

Frontline's program was a good analysis within its limits. As others have said, this all needs to be put into a larger historical context, including American foreign/military policy.

30,000 troops for 3-6 months is a ludicrous proposal for an "Endgame." Another leaf of the "domination on the cheap" strategy this all started out with.

The end of all this trouble no one can see, but it will be even worse than what has been perpetrated already. I'll be in the bar with the locals, waiting.

David Deller
Muscat, Oman


I am amazingly disappointed. By leaving out the cause of the problem; the administrations callous disregard of the number of troops needed to secure Iraq, you present the perpetrators of war crimes as mere befuddled bystanders.

Hitler and Stalin could have used you to help them and their henchmen to apologize for their poor, misunderstood actions as well.

No more pledge funds for you.

John Hecht
Atlanta, GA


"Endgame", while well meaning, does not address the hidden agenda in Iraq. The ulterior motives (which are fundamental and not "conspiracy theories") are unquestioned in documentaries such as this.

Iraq is an exercise in purposeful disorder. The true strategy, the deep political schema, the "Endgame", has from day one been civil war, "Balkanization", and the formation of a "New Middle East" (

Liberate and Unite? Never. Divide and conquer. Absolutely.

James R
Charlotte, NC


As I watched the litany of arragance and incompetance I couldn't help but think of the young soldiers and their young families I've met while visiting my daughter in Lakewood, WA. At my grandchildrens' school each day they pray for the fathers and mothers in the service and in Afghanistan or Irag. The solemn hush that comes over the class is a powerful reminder of who is paying the cost of this war. What a shame. What a shame we are allowing this to continue.

George McHugh
Dublin, CA


In watching this program, I was struck by the overall naivete and wishful thinking shown by most of the actors in this conflict. Namely, the belief that adopting this or that military strategy could successfully create an entirely new political culture in a very foreign part of the world--and do so within the span of a few years. American optimism is a great thing, but realism needs to be a part of the equation, too.

I also want to say "bravo!" for putting together a dispassionate program highlighting the views and comments of actual high-level participants in this war, without including the ranting and raving of partisans on either side, which some of the other commenters seem to think would have been informative. There's plenty of ranting and raving all over the cable networks, if that's what you seek. Keep producing informative TV of this quality, and I'll keep watching.

Chris Oberst
Arlington, VA


I am humbled by the enormous complexity and difficulty of the situation in Iraq, and the efforts by the military to deal with it. They have made mistakes, but the civilian leadership has made greater errors. We are using (misusing?) the military to effect fundamental social and political change in a country that America does not know or understand. The disconnect between American culture and worldview and that of Iraq is huge. Has the military had their people learn Arabic and other local dialects and taught them Iraqi culture and history and trained them in cross-cultural work? This would seem to me to be essential. How are you going to "win hearts and minds" if you don't speak the language or understand their culture and way of life?

John Mustol
San Diego, CA


This is clearly a battle that cannot be won. Those who want us gone or dead know exactly how to push our buttons. We lost Vietnam with far more. This is an administration that just does not get it. If I hear the words "victory," "success," and "hard work" one more time, I will be sick. After watching, I come away feeling that there is so much more to be brought to light. This program just touches the surface. There is so much more to be reported. I hope you will continue doing so from an insider's perspective.

Del Mar, ca


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