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U.S. military in Tal'Afar, a town in Iraq near the Syrian border that was terrorized by Zarqawi's Al Qaeda forces for over a year.

What are your reactions to this report about the enemy that coalition forces face in Iraq? Can the U.S. strategy succeed?


Thank you for your broadcast of The Insurgency, a program so disturbing and so eye opening and informative that I hope you have plans to broadcast it again soon, because there are many in the U.S. that need to see the truth that the Bush administration through mainstream media has been keeping from us.

I was unsure before seeing The Insurgency if the American military should be withdrawn from Iraq before the country is stable. Now I know we have to get our troops out of Iraq ASAP, because it would be a sin to support keeping them there to be sacrificed in support of a war based on lies and deception of this administration (Herta Daubler-Gemlin warned the U.S. and the world about George W Bush) and because we are not wanted there. Iraq is this century's Vietnam and it is time to end American involvement there now.

Craig Schwanke
Herndon, Virginia


I just watched the "Insurgency" documentary and was very impressed by M.Ware. Job well done. I would like to remind those that write in to look-up the definition of the word documentary before they express their views. I know there were many facts not discussed e.g. torture, oil, etc. But this was a DOCUMENTARY about the insurgency NOT a discussion about why we should or should not be in Iraq.

David Chiaffone
Natick, Massachusetts


Wonderful job. What a conundrum. We're in a tough spot there now, and there seems to be no solution. At some point leaving will have to be faced. The question is when.

Mark York
Sunland , CA


Frontline usually makes better-than-average productions. That's why "The Insurgency" was such a major disappointment.

There were two major omissions.

Torture was never mentioned. Presumably it has had major impact on the insurgency. This thesis should have, at least, been entertained.

The role of oil production and the insurgencies impact on it was completely neglected. Oil production is a primary determinant in US decisions to remain in Iraq.

Both of these factors are crucial to understanding the insurgency. The failure to mention either of these reinforces the myth and fantasy purveyed by Bush Administration propaganda.

I am left with little doubt that these omissions were intentional--that intent being the desire to not offend Administration interests in the CPB, PBS and their corporate sponsors.

Another sad example of why I remain a non-member. PBS does not offer unbiased reportage.

Mark Paris
Norfolk, VA


As a lifelong conservative, I find it unfortunate that our country has been put into a "box" by the administration, fighting a largely unnecessary war - when other more important battles in the war on terror are ignored (such as securing our borders).

Despite this, it will be hard to simply walk away from Iraq - as the Iraqi commander indicated, that would likely plunge the country into civil war. And despite the valiant efforts of our troops and the help they provide Iraqis on a daily basis, it is the presence of coalition forces that are the main objection of so many of the combatants. Given this, it is hard to forsee a winning scenario that involves our staying put in large numbers for much longer - it simply provides an ongoing reason to fight.

Since cannot stay there forever - we must design a withdraw strategy that can ensure achievable objectives - the sooner the better. One of the things Hussein understood was that Iraq was a cobbled together republic in which probably only a strong dictator could keep a damper on the religous/ethnic rivalries - we have learned this the hard way.

Perhaps it is better to guide Iraq into a future where 3 new countries are created, rather than spend indefinite blood & treasure holding together rival ethnic groups that hate each other. We have no compelling US national interest in keeping the country as one and it's not clear that is what the Iraqi's want, so do we continue to force it?

Tim Blazer


I feel great empathy as a Canadain with the USA about the conflict in Iraq, especially with the fact that it has such a cost in American lives. We can and should be critical about mistakes made by Government when it comes to committment to war: the stakes are too high not to be ready to make prompt adjustments to imporve strategy.The comfort, if any can be taken, is that our western democracy allows for Frontline reports to demonstrate that truth is not necessarily the first casualty of war.

Leo Hrivnak
Toronto, Canada


There are so many things to say about your excellent documentary. But just to pick out one - meant with a spirit of tolerance, respect, and love to all our Muslim brothers and sisters - and not to neglect holding ALL other groups equally to task (including those killing in the name of "national interest"):

I beseech all our peaceloving Muslim friends in the world to create a visible and public movement challenging the type of Islamic extremists depicted in the film who appear so deeply committed to war, violence, brutality, and killing in the name of any religion.

I admit great fear in even saying this publicly, but isn't that even more reason why it needs to be said?

Andrew Kaye


I have lived in the Middle East, and in Indonesia for many years of my long life. I guess it must be true everywhere... you cannot defeat a man who is fighting for a new homeland, such as the Kurds. You cannot defeat a man who has held power for years as a minority - like the Sunni. And you cannot get the majority (Shite) to agree to be ruled by a minority. On top of that, democracy to an Arabic Muslim is as foreign as a monarch in the US.

We have accomplished out mission by making America safe against Saddam Hussein - now it is time to come home. This conflict will drag on as long as we have the patience to stick around and fight. I morn the death of the young Americans who have died for nothing.

I morn even more for the American democracy here at home which has taken a sudden downturn because of this war.

Greg Luke
Lombok, Indonesia


Thanks for the thoughtful program, and thanks to the two incredibly brave journalists who provided such amazing insights.

Having said that, I think there was a major omission in this program, namely the extent to which the insurgency was strengthened by Abu Ghraib, Falluja, and the like. The November 2004 attack on Falluja was discussed but in a way that suggested that, if it was a failure, then that was because U.S. troops did not kill as many insurgents as they claimed, not that they killed far more civilians than they admitted.

I realize of course that one is very limited in terms of what can be included in a one-hour program, but I would have been interested to hear more of the journalists' opinions on the effects of the brutality of U.S. troops on the insurgents' recrutiment efforts.

Adam Blackwell
Salt Lake City, UT


I thank Frontline for bringing this to us, up-close and personal. Yes I got upset at the blunders of our administration but also feel that our involvement was the spark that the Middle East needs.

I think the point that is missed with all this is how hypnotized the people of Iraq are, especially those fighting. They remind me less of the Viet Cong and the opposition forces during the Vietnam War and more of the Japanese Special Attack Units (kamikaze bombers) of the Second World Word.

The photo journalist said that these fighters would start to reminisce about their families, then shake it off and declare that it was Satan that was attempting to trick them. Further the journalist said that these young fighters are not `here', meaning in this world, they have an "altered states of consciousness ".

When you're in a hypnotic trance, you need a shock to wake you up; perhaps this is a ripple that will begin to wake these people up out of their state of unconsciousness and unresponsiveness, the result of decades of dictators which demand strict obedience to the authority of the state or to Islam.

Mark Young
Philadelphia, PA


Your documentary on the Iraqi insurgency was insightful and as balanced as anything else out there. The pre-war mistakes made by the administration in terms of both tactical planning and intelligence are hard to ignore. President Bush's world agenda, and the narrow-thinking policies towards Iraq that spawned from it, have put our brave men and women, along with the Iraqi people, in a precarious position. Yet, amazingly, the situation in Iraq is not hopeless, and the focus of our attention and energy must now be spent on the present and what lies ahead.

The coalition must find a way to exploit the insurgencies' factionalism and win a majority of Iraqi public opinion. This will arguably be one of the greatest challenges ever faced by our nation, considering the religious importance of the region as well as the inherent complexities of the conflict. Political and economic progress must develop alongside security efforts; if the Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds themselves start believing in the benefits of a unified Iraq, then no amount of bombings or beheadings will deter them from that goal, and the insurgency will lose its base and slowly wither away. Although some may argue to the contrary, anything short of a secure, politically functioning Iraq will be a defeat for the Americans.

John Bunselmeyer
Seattle, WA


In the credits for this episode there was the following mention of our soldiers [and Col. H.R. McMaster who was interviewed while leading his troops] in Iraq:----------THANKSThe soldiers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regimentand U.S Army Public Affairs----------While watching this FRONTLINE episode, I thought the name H.R. McMaster sounded familiar. I checked my list of favorite books I've read and found him there.

Next I Googled PBS for McMaster and found: FRONTLINE: Give War a Chance: Lessons of Vietnam.Where we find FRONTLINE had interviewed the then Maj. McMaster [Copyright 1999 PBS Online and WGBH/FRONTLINE]:----------"In 1997, an Army major published a book about Vietnam that caught the attention of virtually every American military leader. The writer was H.R. McMaster and the book is titled Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam."

[followed by the conversation with Maj. McMaster and ending with]

"Major H.R. McMaster graduated from West Point in 1984, and, during the Gulf War, commanded Eagle Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment's successful ground campaign against Iraq's Republican Guard in the Battle of 73 Easting. He has taught at West Point and received his Ph.D. in military history from the University of North Carolina in 1996. Currently, he is serving as regimental operations officer of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at the National Training Center"----------

I hope and pray Col. McMaster has the opportunity to write another book that will analyze his war in Iraq as well as he has with his Dereliction of Duty for my war.

I'll take this opportunity to give my thanks to Col. McMaster and all our troops in Iraq. I believe without Col. McMaster and men like him on the frontline in Iraq might not have been FRONTLINE there.

J.S. Fike
Ceres, CA


Watching tonight's broadcast only reinforced for me what I saw as appalling mismanagement of this war from the very beginning. I'm only grateful for the fact that more Americans will see this Frontline installment and recognize the depressing extent that their government and the civilian managers in the Pentagon have let them down. Thank you Frontline for another excellent documentary.

Patrick Pineault
Ottawa, Canada


I just finished watching The Insurgency and was highly impressed by Col. H.R. McMaster and his insight into the war. I'm amazed at his ability to empathize with and understand the Iraqi people in the midst of such a brutal and chaotic environment. It's just sad to see stories like Abu Ghraib get so much attention while Col. McMaster's bravery and compassion for the Iraqi people go virtually unnoticed. He showed that this is not a black and white war. These insurgents are fighting for different reasons and it involves religion, power, economics, retaliation and fear of change. You can tell that Col. McMaster is there for the good of the Iraqi people and truly wants to see the children in school and the adults with jobs to feed their children. It's just sickening to watch the insurgents carry out despicable acts and impede the progress of their own people. I'm proud of Col. McMaster and he is what makes me proud to be an American.

Jon Terry


What a sickening and racist bit of feel good propaganda for US consumption. Tens of thousands of innocent Sunni and Shia citizens murdered by the US military's campaign of terror completely ignored. Even a pretext of journalistic impartiality seems to have escaped the producers of this program.

And to think that a program like this is the far left of US political discourse.

Los Angeles, CA


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posted feb. 21, 2006

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