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join the discussion: Are U.S. efforts to bring democracy to Iraq ill-conceived? Or is it a mission vital to America's national interests?  What should the U.S.  mission in Iraq be?


Mao's dictum that: "The peasants are the sea in which the guerrilla fish swim" gives us a clue as to how to deal with "Sunni Triangle" terrorism. First, we should recognize that in a clan-based society like Iraq's, every adult member of the clan knows what every other is doing; he also knows who and where the Saudi/Syrian/Palestinian fanatics are! Second - as Col. West learned the hard way! - the U.S. is too constrained by political correctness to take the measures necessary to "dry up" this sea: i.e. "induce" the civilians to turn in the terrorists! The solution to this problem may drive the "Human Rights" activists ballistic, but it is clear: arm the Shi'ites and put them in charge of restoring order among the Sunnis! There is little downside to this approach, since the Sunnis don't want "democracy" anyway, they want a restoration of the power and privilege they enjoyed under Sadaam!

Paul Wenger
West Hartford, CT


Frontline: Great report! I enjoyed seeing more the of the inside look at Iraqi and the people we helped to liberate. You showed the very real struggle for the Iraqi people to find a way to have a democratic state. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. The enormous task can seem overwhelming and impossible, but fear can be our worst enemy. Some groups of Iraqi people obviously have an enormous amount of anger, others are trying to just get by, and still others are optomistic and are moving forward trying to rebuild their Iraqi.

Paul Juline
Austin, TX


The most revealing and troubling coverage I've seen on the situation in Iraq. A fantastic job of reportage on a very difficult and dangerous region.

We are now occupying two regions equivalent to the West Coast of America. They are responding, as would most people, to a foreign force that kills their civilians, knocks down their doors, violates their customs, and proclaims that they are now 'free.'

The self-defeating history of empires is well-known. Sadly, we seem to be repeating that history.

Again, congratulations on a terrific look at conditions in Iraq. The question now: "What do we do next?"

John Mueller


We can't win the situation in Iraq. It's beyond the capability of the American Government to control Americans or illegal aliens in their own country. Good Luck in Iraq, where everyone has an RPG and we don't speak the language and are culturally blind to most of the situation. It's hard to imagine the futility and waste of life and money trying to rebuild in that situation. Literally nobody is safe at anytime, anywhere. Someone has to come up with a solution so our brave soldiers and everyone else can stop dying. Iraq without a US presence would probably revert to a worse than Saddam situation. The American Government has not had much success with imposing its will upon others lately. Most of them hate us for trying to tell them how to act or think.

Thanks again for good shows like FRONTLINE.

chuck hallgren
Colorado Springs, Col.


Thanks for the report. I've seen nothing else like it on television
It's the type of reporting I've been hoping to see:
beyond Bagdad...on the ground glimpses of the various
Iraqi regions and the intensely difficult issues that local leaders
& US commanders are dealing with. One of the few TV reports that
helps viewers gain a better context of the situation.

I hope to see another couple of shows like this about Iraq over the
coming year.

Cheers, and stay safe,

Michael Hanna


Why did no one in the Bush administration ever foresee these consequences of an Iraq offensive? Even though I am a non-expert, I could have bet on this kind of outcome. By attacking Iraq, Bush has stirred up a hornets nest that will keep us hostage for many years to come and will multiply potential soldiers in their "Holy War".

Hardy Hoegger
Wilmington, DE


Frontline reports are extremely informative and valuable in the mainstream media climate of abandonment of American's critical need of knowledge. This entire Iraq subject is and will be the highest priority issue for 50 years. May I suggest that since our country is soon going to be infused with tens of thousands of Americans returning from Iraq, that you produce many, many more hours of reporting what those returning have to say.

We must
decide if the current administration knows what it is doing in this part of the world or if we need new people making better and cheaper decisions. Our loved ones are dying.

Claudia Tayborn
Salt Lake City, Utah


I was born in Colombia. It has been experiencing a civil war for the last forty plus years. The government has poured billions of dollars in its effort to take control of the country from guerillas in the country side. After viewing your story, my view that it will take years, if not decades, before the Iraqi government will successfully gain control of its people was confirmed. In Colombia the government knew who its enemy was and where they were. In Iraq, instead of fighting one organized group, the government will have to contend with having to deal with several groups. The conditions which you documentary reveal of Iraqi's social institutions are deplorable. Living under those conditions could only foster extreme discontent among the population and the affect will be to make it a monumental, if not impossible, task for any government to control the country. Our president really got our people involved in a real quagmire!

Hector Bolivar


Congratulations on a job well done!

I served as an infantry officer with the Marines in Iraq from April to October 2003 in Nasariyah, Kut, Najaf, Hillah, and near Fallujah. During my time in-country, I witnessed firsthand many of the problems you so accurately portrayed, particularly those relating to civil-military relations in Iraq and the slow progress of efforts at rebuilding. Those challenges were as frustrating to watch others grapple with on TV as they were for me during my service.

You should take pride in the manner in which you presented the facts in an objective manner without any discernible agenda, save uncovering the truth. I hope that your efforts will be viewed by the members of government who are shaping our policies there, thus better enabling them to make sound decisions regarding the future of Iraq.

William Langenheim


Thank you so very much for this unvarnished report on the emerging political scene in Iraq. I am so hungry to know what life is like there now, and how the political affairs are unfolding. Your report gives me much to think about. I wish I could tune in every night to learn more, to see the day to day development of our reluctant nation-building in Tikrit and Falluja and everywhere else in Iraq, and to see how the people of Iraq respond, and so fervently express their desire for self-determination. This is reality TV, for real. What would it take to have a half-hour every night to check in on PBS, or any network, to see what's really happening in Iraq?

Steve Gano
New York, NY


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posted february 12, 2004

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