Showdown With IranFRONTLINE
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In the long, ongoing clash between Iran and the U.S., what do you think the future holds?


I have always been impressed and proud to see my PBS donations being used with such exemplerary quality and service. Your program on Iran was far more informative than anything else in the American media.

After reviewing many of the comments in this national discussion, I am deeply appaled and shocked at the characterization of an attack on Iran as one with few consequences. I believe this characterization is incredibly naive and false. From my point of view, one of the greater negatives of an attack on Iran is the creation of another recriuting tool for Al Qaeda. Any attack would simply confirm to many muslims across the globe that America is against Islam and is waging a war on it. This would swell Al Qaeda's ranks to new levels unseen before, and lead many join their fascist cause. I have NO doubt that to the average muslim in the middle east, 3 wars, by America, on Muslim countires would seem like a war on Islam on 3 fronts.

Chris James
Diamond, California


Thank you for a balanced reporting on Iran, very different from what one is exposed to in the mainstream media.

If I may, it would be helpful to debunk the administrations assertions about the imminent Iranian threat in a follow up program. Some pointers: Iran is a signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has had over 3000 surprise inspections that resulted in discovery of no nuclear weapons program. US allies, Pakistan, India and Israal are not members of NPT and unlike Iran, are all armed with nuclear weapons. No sanctions or threats are made against them. Iranian nuclear technology for industrial grade processing of uranium is 5 to 10 years away, best case scenario. Iran has never possessed or used Atomic weapons. For that matter the only country in the world that has ever used an Atomic bomb and for that mtter on civilian targets (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) is the US. As for the Iranian threat, Iran has not attacked, invaded, made war on another country for over 200 years, did not use chemical weapons against Iraq even when the latter used WMD including chemical warfare against Iran in its 8 year war. Various US administrations on the other hand have been at war, bombed, strafed, organized a coup, etc. in at least 20 countries over the last 60 years. Iran does not possess the technology to deliver even a conventioanl weapon to Europe. Iran's military budget is $5b a year, less than 1/100th of the Pentagon budget and about 1/100th of what the US has already spent in Iraq. Just one of the 3 US carriers in the Gulf packs more fire power than the entire Iranian army, air force and navy combined.....Instead of concentrating on Iran, how about telling the truth about Saudi Arabia?

Here is an idea for the next expose: first lets demystify the name of Al Qaeda and all it what it is: an offshoot of the Wahhabi sect, which is much more menaingful and explains what inspired the Al Qaeda in the first place. Also instead of calling them Taliban, meaning religious students, why not call them Wahhabi students which is what they are. Lets delve into the fact that 15 out of 19 hijackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia seek their families, interview neighbors and find out what made them come over to the US to blow up the Towers.

Also why not investigate the fact that a large number if not most of the suicide bombers coming over the border into Iraq are from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi financed mosques built over the last 1/4 of a century around the world, continue to be the main recruitment centers for Wahhabi religion (read Al Gaeda)...

Cambrdige, MA


I found the following statement by USS Nimitz Captain Michael Manazir, about the presence of the Nimitz in the Persian Gulf, astonishing. "This is probably the most dangerous four-and-a-half acres on earth. The proverbial 800-pound gorilla, you know he's in the room. So Nimitz, 1100 feet of American diplomacy, is here. And all the countries of the region know that we're here."

The Nimitz represents American diplomacy? Captain Manazir abuses the English language so that we can continue to interfere in a region nearly half way around the globe.

And how appalled we are that Iran is interfering in our interference!

George LynnEnglewood, Colorado

George Lynn
Englewood, Colorado


Thank you for an excellent program on Iran. It is indeed unusual in this day and age to show a balanced and thoughful television program on Iran. You should be congratulated for breaking the mold and not buckling under the usual political pressure. I am also planning to use the video as a teaching and discussion tool in my contemporary Middle East course in my university.

Mobile, AL


Thank you, Frontline, for an excellent summary of the tense situation between US and Iran. The documentary does an amazing job of covering the issue from an Iranian perspective, specifically on why they might seek to possess a nuclear weapon and motivations for supporting insurgent operations in Iraq. However, I think the issue can be covered more fully by mentioning how the Iranian nuclear program might guarantee them future energy security, and how current Iran-Russia relations, including strategic relations, might prevent the US from attacking.

Ann Arbor, MI


Sure, it wasn't perfect, but still much better than the other "reporting" that goes on in the press. And the links that were offered were definitely interesting. For being a relatively mainstream outlet, I'd say I'm impressed.

Oak Park, CA


Thank you Frontline for a brilliant report on Iran. I can only shake my head in disbelief when I compare this report with what main stream media reports.

I hope you make this piece available to all MSM outlets as a bludgeon to their inadequacy. Perhaps media monitoring groups, PIPA and U. of Penn, could make comparisons from Frontline and MSM reports.

michael sheridan
san diego, ca


I appreciate the report on Iran, which has always been considered a larger threat than Iraq.

The intelligence we had on WMD's in Iraq should be a lesson in our dealings with Iran. Faulty intelligence lead to the lack of WMD's, the main provacation of the war, so we were told. I think it could also be said that little is known of the level of development of Iran's nuclear program, which leads back to the question of reliable, actionable intelligence. I fear the leaders in Washington are playing a dangerous game with our soldiers in the same way the White House has dealt with the quagmire in Iraq. Without proper intelligence, it is hard to reason additional sanctions.

Even President Putin, not exactly a man of democracy, suggested today that talks and diplomacy led to a positve conclusion in North Korea, as it also did in Tripoli. This President needs to buy time with intelligence operatives until we really know the facts about the nuclear ambitions of Iran.

I fear President Bush will take military action in his lame duck last year and leave an even bigger mess to the next administration.....

Walter Chance
Houston, Texas


I just watched the program online and should say that I am very disppointed at the way your portrayed the Mojahedin (PMOI or MeK). I think objective journalism requires that you look at both sides of the issue. You reflected the views of the Iranian regime's officials on the group, which are obviously tainted with plain lies (for example: Mojahedin blowing themselves among population), but did not bother to interview Mojahedin officials and/or supporters to see why they had to resort to armed struggle against the regime in the first place. Also, your program neglected to cover Iranian government's repressive measures against its own population and the gross violations of human rights, but I guess that wasn't the subject of this program.

Minneapolis, MN

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

FRONTLINE did interview Alireza Jafarzadeh, former spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella organization of which the MEK is part. Mr. Jafarzadeh appears in the program, and an extended excerpt from his interview, in which he responds to U.S. and Iranian charges against the MEK, is available on our Web site.


I would like to respond to the naive comments of James McKingsley. Iran is not an Iraq, it is not an Arab country that was created by the British. Iran has 7,000 years of history and culture and cannot be broken up, as you say, into different regions. The government of Iran are criminals, but no worse than US government policies and actions in the region, especially the overthrow of Iran's Mossadegh in 1953. A diplomatic solution is required, not continued warmongering by the US. Before you make irresponsible comments, get educated about Iran's history and foreign policy in the region.

Soheil Soheili
Washington, DC


I found the program very informative and a good synopsis of US foreign policy efforts with Iran since 9/11. Under the circumstances, the foreign policy "blunders" are quite understandable, considering the backdrop of the surrounding events. Most interesting was the Iranian officials response to any attack on Iran. It confirms my suspicion that Iran does have an international terrorist network which it may believe it can quickly pull into action. With such a threat and a religious ethno-centric regime seeking to become a nuclear power, we cannot change the course of decisions and events but to neutralize Iran. Perhaps, the solution to all of this is to work with the Russians, first to take control of their so called domestic nuclear program, then to break up Iran into three or so regions or states, if possible. If Iran resists the Russians, we should coop Russia to militarily dismantle the nuclear infrastructure and divide the country. The nuclear issue is the most important issue now with Iran. Frontline should produce another program on the role of other foreign powers in Iraq, Iran and Afganistan who can influence the outcome of foreign policy and developments in the area. Better to have a rational enemy like Russia than an irrational one from Iran.

James McKingsley
Walnut, California


Your viewers would have been better served by a more extensive program on US and Iranian relations starting with the US governments active participation in the overthrow of Mossadegh, It should have also some discussion of US relations with the Shah of Iran. More importantly, a critical analysis of Iran's nuclear program would have been most beneficial. That said, the best part of tonight's program were the interviews with Iranians from the government and media.

Jose Meras
Houston, TX


I was disappointed in your program on Iran. It left out so much. I thought you would give some historical information about our relationship with Iran, beginning with the CIA's overthrow of Mossadegh and installation of Reza Shah, the father of the last Shah. The U.S. can be considered as responsible for the Islamic revolution in 1979. I have visited Iran as a tourist this year and was struck by the friendliness of the people toward our small group. Young women wanted to have their picture taken with any of us who wanted. Everyone was interested in us. The children certainly aren't being taught to hate us. The Iranian govt. says it does not intend to develop a nuclear bomb and wants nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Why don't we believe them? The Iranians are too intelligent not to gauge the consequences of using a nuclear bomb. We are the dangerous country, or rather President Bush and V.P. Cheney are. We should take our military out of the Middle East and stop our warlike behavior. We are not considering the consequences of any strike on Iran. By the way, I believed Saddam H. when he said he no longer had nuclear weapons. I even won a bet with a friend.

Regina Barra
New York, NY


Pursuant to watching your program I am writing to inform you of a great number of errors and mis-presenting facts.Showdown on the 23rd October mentions through Vali Nasr, that the PMOI [alias for MEK or MKO -- Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization] do not have any support amongst the people of Iran. I am sure if PBS wanted to research this without taking Nasr for his word which would mean being obliged to the commitment of ethic journalism, they could have found quite a number of events and gatherings in Europe and USA for the PMOI where numbers as high as 10-20 and 50 thousand gather not once but a dozen times in the year .something I gather pretty much competes with numbers of people attending conventions to support presidency candidates in the US.As far as within Iran is concerned let us just draw a comparison with for example Cuba or the former Soviet republics. to see how under a religious dictatorship hundreds of towns and cities in Iran dozens of times a year witness massive poster and graffiti campaigns all carried out by very talented , inspired and brave youngsters, men and women all getting their courage from the PMOI in ashraf. These campaigns are published by the PMOI both in their weekly and monthly papers as well as through a publication known as Iran Liberation that has been publicizing affairs of the resistance more than 15 years. None of these occured in any of the countries above simply due to the lack of such opposition. All of these are easily to be found on Google search engine. Let us not forget growing discontent in Iran where 5000 protests have occurred in one year (accounts from monitoring events mentioned in Iran state media) and again comparing former Sovjet countries, North Korea former regime in Iraq as well as Cuba I am sure any sane mind can understand that under a dictatorship that executes even minors in public only an organizing force as large as popular and as strong as the PMOI can keep up spirit and hope of people.

S Karimi
London, UK


Thanks for the in depth look at the situation in Iran. It is far more serious than most people realize. Iran is a pivotal piece of the puzzle where world domination is concerned. But the events that are about to follow should not be that hard to calculate.

For some time now, the majority of Americans (as was exhibited in the election last fall) have wanted the conflict in Iraq to come to an end. Why hasn't it, you may ask? Well consider this: When President announced "Mission Accomplished," he was right! Those who stood to make the billions that we have sen spent in Iraq could have not been more pleased. Additonally, if it was intention to invade Iran, what better place to be than in Iraq?

We should never forget that Russia is a major player in this not so friendly contest. They may not be as strong as they once were, but they are not as weak as some might think either! Are the folks in Washington really so naive as to believe that Putin is going let America establish dominance in his part of the world? Russia needs the resources in Iraq and Iran perhaps more that the Russians. Don't expect a peaceful solution!

Henry Pennymon
Orlando, FLorida


After viewing this piece it becomes more apparent that in order to bring peace and Islamo-democracy to the middle east in relation to Iran the United States should rely less on saber rattling and more on what Phillip of Macedonia did before he conquered Persia with his his armies and his Son Alexander's persona. Do the soft campaigning.

A mixture of a extended Cold War politics and grassroots campaigning is the only way we can win this one. Until the US is seen as a broker peace and prosperity as much as it is seen as an aggressive power we will not be able to blunt the rhetoric of Iranian hard liners. It's time for the bad cop to take a break and let the good cop do this work.

Jim Sottile
San Francisco, CA


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posted october 23, 2007

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