blair's war
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Who's to blame for the failure of diplomacy in the months leading up to the war on Iraq? Can the U.S. and Europe repair the damage?


The behind-the-scenes story of the diplomatic initiatives that failed demonstrate that the Bush administration did nearly everything within reason to keep from going to war without the backing of the United Nations.

It was a delight to see so much of what we saw on the news over a period of weeks assembled together into an excellent one-hour documentary. Great job, FRONTLINE.

Tristan Abbey
san diego, ca


I want to commend you for another indepth report, filled with excellent interviews and footage! You offer a refreshing change to mainstream media.

The French, the Germans, the Turks, etc. are my heroes for bravely representing the voices of the majority. War should always be the last option. Although it is agreed that Hussein is evil, what are the US's true intentions, and will this really stop terrorism?

Meilin Ching
somerville, ma


No one has any idea if the US will have fewer enemies after the Iraq war, only time will tell. Of one thing I am sure, that no matter how well this war goes politically afterward; the US will have fewer friends in the world. We could have done a better job.

fiarfield, nj


Forget about ourselves for once. Sure, we were attacked but we hold no credentials as the only victims of terrorism.

The broader scope is a world free of tyranny. I have experienced it and it is no life at all. I want to see a world where all people have opportunities to realise their goals.

If Frontline's 'War Behind Closed Doors' episode is accurate about G.W's belief that it is a moral imperative to create such a world then so shall he pursue it with my support. There is nothing harder to come by than purity of vision.

terence goh
san francisco, ca


I think the issue is not multilateralism or unilateralism, liberalism or neoconservatism, hawks or doves, or whatever. Those are just attempts to simplify a truly complex issue and ironically the process of simplifying things makes the issue more complex.

I think that the conflict boils down to one group that truly beleives that the world changed radically after 9/11 and is willing to act on that belief and another group that considers it a tragedy but does not believe it has changed the world. The first group is willing to risk the institutions of the past because of that view of a dangerous world. The other goup sees no reason to do so and defends those institutions or ideas. The problem lies in this: ironically, the first group forces a change in the world as they see it by acting on it and so we have this worldwide debate. I do not think we should question the good intentions of both sides.

In the end, information, facts, and new developments will reduce the complexity of what is happening and people will abandon their simplistic views on both sides. I believe that they will also realize that we have instituted a global economy where we all live together and the leaders of the world will be forced to sit down, despite their differences, and decide on the new world order. And the US will inevitably and for the moment have to be the center of that new order despite the fears of France and Russia. THen we will all sit back and wait for the next crisis.

v dedios
fremont, california


. Next time you decide to push a "show" as educational, try using some objectivity. At least have the courage to reveal that PBS is broadcasting an opinion and not challenged facts. After all it is "public broadcasting" not personal broadcasting.

For example, not all agree that it was diplomacy that failed. Many agree that France, Germany and Russia were too tied too their own fear of terrorism to think objectively. They were the ones to reject a second resolution before it was even presented. I am one of many American's who believe that we need to remove terrorist regimes before they remove us. The United States was attacked four times in 8 years (WTC1,Embassy,Cole,9-11)each attack becoming more sophisticated. Each time we hardly responded. Men like Tony Blair, George Bush and Colin Powell have the courage to face fear and terror and fight it, not appease it. Our grandchildren will be thankful for men like these. As we are thankful for the men and women who in the past didn't shrink back but decided to give thier lives for our freedom. P.S. I hope you have the courage to post this.Thank you.

k redding
youngstown, ohio


The program was stiking for the lack of commentary from serious observers (at least on the American side) -- it was mostly the "usual suspects," many of whom have an "agenda." And you repeated the mistake made by too many in the "non-serious" media, in giving more credence to Robert Kagan than people with any knowledge will accord him. So much was lost because you "went with the flow" in terms of received wisdom.

Just one example: you blithly and uncritically joined the beating up of France over "witholding" support for Turkey at NATO. In fact, this debate was essentially symbolic: France chose an issue, in order to express broader concerns about an Iraq war, that was of a "second order" nature: everyone "in the game" knew that there was never any question that Turkey would be left unprotected and vulnerable; most of the actions that might be needed to help Turkey were always in the sovereign competence of the U.S. (and mostly involved U.S. equipment, etc.;) and, when the venue for NATO decision was moved from the North Atlantic Council (19 countries, with a French veto) to the Defence Planning Committee (17 countries, without France, as well as celand, which has no military forces) France had no problem: it had made its points on the broader questions of a war on Iraq (points with which the vast majority of European public opinion agreed), but did not have to concur with NATO's final decision!

Yet none of this came out in your program; you had no one to suggest there was even a different interpretation than the one the anti-French had.

washington, dc


I find it almost laughable how slanted to the left this program was and how this page is so unbalanced in comments. Each and every poll shows support for the administration in the mid to upper 60 percentile while support for the actions taken against Iraq is in the mid 70s. On the other hand support for France and Germany in recent polls is in the teens and single digits.

Yet one has to look hard in this "Proportionate" sampling to find 2 or more messages in support of the administration or the actions taken. I guess Frontline and PBS attract a disproportionate number of Socialists to it's programming. For France and Germany, this is not about Iraq as much as a power Play to see who will control the EU and try to counteract the influence and economic power of the US. It is foolish to think for a moment that representatives of the NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, or any of the other publications from your program could ever objectively represent the current administration.

For once in the last decade we have an honest President who understands that his position is to look out for the interests of the United States and it's allies. Obviously France, Germany and Russia do not fit into that category.

Paul Given
scottsdale, az


Congratulations on more propaganda. Blairs War is almost up to the level of The War Behind Closed Doors.

... your convenient final conclusion: America stands isolated and powerless in the world, stripped of its moral authority now and in the future by the French.

Of course you have conveniently forgotten the facts: The coalition involves includes some 45 countries. We are routinely flying over Arab partners territories. Some countries have forces ON THE GROUND, SIDE BY SIDE WITH OUR TROOPS. Your ignorance of this dishonors their sacrifice for your security.

Jacques Chirac we know has had a personal relationship with Saddam for most of their professional lives, at the core of the French moral standing against war arms (recent parts shipments etc.) and political cover for money.

The Germans in the same vain have, among other things, built Saddams bunkers.The Russians have provided military hardware and advisors to Saddams army now wishing they had better suppliers.

And the atrocities of the Saddams regime, that with which the UN and the French would continue to negotiate, are only just starting to become known I guess the source of Frances future moral superiority.

With blatantly inaccurate facts, and a story so slanted one must turn their TV upside down to see the picture, who says there is no media counterpart to Rush Limbaugh?

I agree, how are we ever going to achieve the moral standing the French have after we liberate people, against the French governments will, from lives filled with routine murder, rape, human shredding, eye gouging, public beheadings, electrocutions, tonguectomies, kidnappings, hostage taking, human shields, and poison gassings?

Dean DeLoe
stamford, ct


It is an unfortunate nervous tic of journalists to substitute moral equivalence for objectivity. Your only real obligation is to the truth and a number of those didn't make it into your piece.

There is no evidence that France, after agreeing to 1441, didn't know that non-compliance meant serious/consequences; force. But, there is the famous video clip of Dominique whatshisname saying after 1441 was adopted, that non-compliance did mean war and France was prepared to go along. So, in reality France was mendacious on this question where your program invented a thoughtful disagreement between great powers.

Unfortunately the U.S. defense of Europe in dollars (for military spending that European countries avoid) has led to classic spoiled-child syndrome on the part of Old Europe. The U.S should gradually withdraw paying the defense bills of these countries over some years so that France, Germany, and Belgium can face the grownup reality of having to build real militaries of their own.

And your conclusion about the other great powers being left out of the coalition leads me to ask, "What other great powers?" France has not been a great power for many decades, if not a century or two. The world is full of people now whose self-esteem is too high and some countries as well. France is having a hard time dealing with its current status as a second rate, pacifist country with an underperforming economy.

Darrell Judd
stoughton, ma


Robert Kagan's simplistic proposal of a supposed fundamental European-American philosophical divide -- that Americans are ready to use military power while Europeans regard it as illegitimate in all circumstances -- is disproven by the facts.

The Europeans backed US military actions in the first Gulf War, in Kosovo, and in Afghanistan. That they do not do so in Iraq is not indicative of some profound philosophical division, but because they (like many Americans, I might add) are unconvinced that this war was necessary. If they don't back illegitimate wars, that does not mean they come from Venus, as Kagan asserts. It means they are sensible.

The true division is not between Americans and Europeans but between people, on both sides of the Altantic, who think international affairs ought to rely multilateral efforts and not on unilateralist ultimatums; that international law is something to be obeyed and not thrown in the trash if inconvenient; and that peaceful means of conflict resolution ought to be fully exhausted before there is a resort to war.

As FRONTLINE's "The Long Road to War" demonstrated so clearly last month, the fact is that a handful of neoconservative ideologues in this administration disagree with all of these propositions. How has their narrow vision somehow become the voice of all Americans?

Garrett Fagan
state college, pa


Come on, Frontline, this pissing contest of the poli-sci experts (Hutton vs. Kagan) is beneath you. Why do these guys have to quote useless polls and call each other nasty names while they strive to put together the most impressive string of long words against each other?

The documentary itself reveals a wonderful effort to find some psychological truth in the entire dynamic between world leaders, and then we have to read this descent into squabbling that is just this side of Mo, Larry, and Curly. Tell both of these fellows to stop the mud-slinging and allow for the possibility of mutually-achieved insight. Maybe if our world leaders had made such allowances for mutual understanding, people wouldn't be dying over there right now.

Brian Donohue
brooklyn, ny


Although you focused on Mr. Blair, the essence of your program focused on the pros and cons of why are we in Iraq? Your drift seemed to be that it is a mistake, largely because a broad coalition was not reached and of the uncertainties which lie ahead. On a personal level, with the casualty numbers and graphic videos, who could want such a thing? This whole war thing makes for insecurity and high anxiety.

But what of the real big picture? Does that fit into any of these decisions? Let's face it, most people (European & American) know less about the history of Iraq than their phone bill, yet everyone has an opinion. The history of Asia and Europe have been a non-stop litany of war, terror, plague, and destruction from the beginning of time. Sadly, history is largely indifferent to body counts. The real question here is whether this war is any different from all the others and will it miraculously prevent the rise of more Sadam's or prevent other 9/11's. Can any war bring a more lasting peace? I doubt it, but I can still hope.

Michael Maffett
atlanta, ga


I visited the website today because I was keenly interested in finding out who was that "next to the last fellow," as one of your viewers has referred to him -- and whether you would have posted a transcript of that chilling analysis he provided at the end of "Blair's War." Whoever he is -- and I'm sorry I couldn't remember his name -- he essentially said that he felt the invasion of Iraq would be looked back upon as "the end of the American era... not because we lack power but because now we lack legitimacy... that the coalition of the willing will become the coalition of the reluctant..." In short, that America has lost all claim on moral authority. Please post these remarks in their entirety. They not only nearly made me burst into tears, they are so important -- the essence of your excellent show. Thank you.

Sheila Fyfe
miami, fl

FRONTLINE's editors respond:
"The next to the last fellow" to whom you are referring is Charles Kupchan, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. There were over 30 interviews conducted for this report, "Blair's War," and unfortunately we could not publish them all, including Mr. Kupchan's. However, in our Readings and Links section you will find his article, "The End of the West." It examines the growing gulf between Europe and the U.S. and what it will mean for the future of the West.


I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for "Blair's War" and "The Long Road to War". They were, without a doubt, two of the most informative television programs that I've ever watched.

I will refrain from arguing the issues. Instead, I want to praise Frontline's objectivity in addressing issues that are the source of much argument and division around the world.

Finally, the websites for both programs are also outstanding. I have forwarded the website links to just about everyone I know, and received numerous thanks and positive comments in response.

Jim Wilson
tampa, florida


Your presentation was an interesting look at how childishly France and Germany have behaved since "being left out" of the attack on Afganistan. They were "all Americans" up to that point, but picked up their ball and went home when we defended ourselves against terrorists (and freed the oppressed there).

I'm so proud of President Bush and Tony Blair for putting our national security and the plight of the Iraqi people ahead of diplomacy with sulking heads-of-state. France's real concern is their oil interest in Iraq. President Bush and Tony Blair are on the noble and just side of this war--the people's.

Sally Sanchez
ellsworth, mi



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