The War Behind Closed Doors
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photo of the white houseIs a U.S. invasion of Iraq justified? Should America seek to project its power and values throughout the world -- as stated in the Bush administration's new foreign policy strategy ?


Thank you Frontline, You have provided the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle for me.

I am strongly opposed to this war, I knew we were not getting the full truth. How can a Man Like George W. Bush, who is supposed to be so religious, think that killing women and children is the right thing to do? He knows that Sadam has a hiding place, as he himself does.
Also, how can we sit back and watch what is happening in Palistine, and not think we need to stop the slaughter. Hasn't Israel broken some U.N. Resolutions?

Dave Naftzger
Valrico, Fl


Thanks you for a thought provoking report. What disturbed me the most was the section about the Bush doctrine. If we are truly intending to spread democracy around the world, what image of democracy are we trying to spread? One in which a whole country is waiting for a "go" or "no go" from a single person? Isn't this monarchy?

Where is the lively and healthy discussion by our representatives? What happened to the congress's responsibility to make declarations of war? What about checks and balances? As I was helping my son study for a test on the American democratic system, this flagrant departure from what made this country so great is truly disturbing.

Catherine Sullivan
Shoreview, MN


The US doesn't care in the least about democracy outside our borders; Marcos, the Shah, Mobutu .. we've installed one puppet after another to make sure his country's natural resources are turned over to our corporations.

Last night's program barely mentioned Paul Wolfowitz's stint as Ambassador to Indonesia, where ruthless dictator Suharto served for a generation as America winked, complicit. That's what we have against Saddam, the fact that he has stood up to us. The Cheneys & Rumsfelds & Wolfowitzes won't be satisfied till every government on the planet is a docile stooge to the United States, and they'll expand America's military to an obscenely huge new size and risk another world war when covert subversion fails and our deranged "modern warfare" bullying is required ...

Russ Rodderback
Las Vegas, Nevada


Even as biased as this report was, it does show that President Bush has heard and is cognizant of the various view points across the board. He's not the Rogue Rambo the press pundits often critcise him to be.

As CEO he must now decide on a best course of action for the nation. Fortunately he has the vantage point of being fully aware of the foreign policy mistakes and successes of the previous six administrations and I'm confident he will do the best he can. Even if it is a disappointing less than perfect outcome, it will probably be a lot better world we are left with than we would have had from a Gore administration.

David C. Racker
Bountiful, UT


The pre-emptive doctrine of the NSS is only new in that the military is now overtly stated as a means to topple governments that do not earn American approval. During the Cold War the CIA was the means with which the United States undermined and overthrew governments that were considered a threat.

Perhaps PBS should air once again the 1987 Bill Moyers documentary "The Secret Government" to connect the new Bush doctrine and its tactics with those of the Cold War, which would be an eye opener for many and give further hesitation as to whether we once again want to travel down this paranoid path.

Carswell Witherspoon
Dallas, TX


Thank you for another informative program.

A minority of Americans haven't grasped that we are the target of a genocidal war. Our enemies' total lack of restraint, their substantial financial resources, their state sponsorship, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and weapons technology ensure the U.S. will suffer catastrophic loss.

The question is whether it will occur repetitively. That's what the Administration is trying to prevent.

Jack Kucera
Brentwood, TN


The War Behind Closed Doors provided an informative description of the origins, players, and documents that contributed to the Bush doctrine, but it failed to identify the geo-political reasons for the preoccupation with Iraq.

The claim that the audience is getting a look "behind closed doors" is journalistic hyperbole. Nothing in the story was not already public knowledge. The program presented the public reasons and rationales for the Bush doctrine with Powell appearing as a powerful, but dissenting dove, i.e. the Frontline program was war propaganda masquerading as investigative journalism.

Stephen Adair
West Hartford, Connecticut


Dear Frontline:
Thank you for this timely journalism. It has put the puzzle pieces together for many of us who have been wondering why an old "kidney stone" has been in the forefront of the Bush Administration's time, and most of it's energy. It has been especially perplexing at a time when not much is being said about the real terrorists who have attacked us on our own homeland.

I had been wondering how the war in Iraq 12 years ago was connected to our present situation and "why" with such intensity now. President surrounded himself with so many of his father's war hawks. Thanks for pulling this together for us.

On to the election of 2004! In the meantime, it is my prayer that the voices of reason embodied in Colin Powell are the voices this President listens to, for all of our sakes.

By the way, we learned of two more families who have lost their primary jobs this week. Wish some energy was going in their direction.

Sharon Yancey
Marietta, Georgia


There are creepy similarities between the Bush and Truman Doctrine. Both were realized during times of expansion Then, Communism...Now, Terrorism.

And the Korean War happened shortly after the Truman Doctrine. Does that mean war with Iraq is inevitable?

Nick Boss
Silver Spring, Maryland


As much as I support the War on Terror and ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction, I cringe at the thought of the US taking on an evangelical stance on dismantling regimes to make them more "democratic".

There is a fine line between the two, and crossing the line would be tyranny, and an act of hypocrisy. Let's remove the dangers of the world and then be respectful enough of the world to leave its people to decide how they want to live and the type of government they want to live under.

Nancy Maurer
Westfield, New Jersey


I do NOT condone human rights abuses and the making/retaining of weapons of mass distruction BUT I do not feel that the US should take a unilateral stance towards making governments run the way we think they should.

The UN was formed to help regulate world government and we should ONLY work through them and their coalitions.

Judith Knight


The War Behind Closed Doors was a remarkably enlightening piece. I vaguely remembered the controversy over Paul Wolfowitz's leaked Defense Planning Guidance draft, but I never connected it to the Bush Doctrine. I just thought we were suffering from a national case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after 9-11.

I must say, I'm not comforted by the knowledge that the dark transformation this country is undergoing is the result of machinations by a cadre of recycled government employees with an agenda, advising a President who's in over his head. The truth may set you free, but always at a price.

Tom Fisher


How disappointing, that you have joined many other media outlets in presenting an imbalanced point of view.

The White House must have been delighted with the program, which gave false gravitas and wisdom to leaders who are making what much of the world feels to be a series of long-lasting, and very damaging mistakes.

I hope you reclaim your journalistic integrity and independence soon. Otherwise, you risk becoming a more polished version of the New York Post.

John Lovejoy
Brooklyn, NY


Thank you, Frontline and PBS for the wonderful program The War Behind Closed Doors. I plan to use a video of it to lead discussion groups in Des Moines churches over many months to come. It will be a great source of discussion material whether there is a war on Iraq by the United States or not.
The most telling line of the entire show came about one-third of the way through and was made by one of the reporters, I think. He said that the Bush doctrine would alter America's international role from "managing the world to changing the world."
If you took a poll of the American people and asked them if they thought America's role in the world was to "manage it," I doubt that twenty percent of our citizenry would agree with this as the primary purpose of our foreign policy. So to go well beyond this, apparently, "unstated policy" to include changing the world through pre-emption and regime change truly is madness.
Finally, The War Behind Closed Doors missed opportunities to tie many of the main players in the Bush administration to their past activities vis-a-vis Iraq. Reagan and Bush I supported Saddam Hussein throughout the 1980's and authorized the supplying of him with the materails he needed to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Although he misrepresented this fact during the 2000 election, Dick Cheney's Haliburton Corporation traded with Saddam throughout his tenure as that company's CEO. Prior to his nomination as vice-presidnet, Cheney had even been arguing publically that the United Nations should stop imposing sanctions against Iraq. Go figure!

Kirk Tofte


I watched your probgram "The War Behind Closed Doors", and with all the media complaints about the news being to consewrvative or liberal, let me say this, Frontline is the fairest, most honest reporting that I have seen.

As a Republican, I can only thank you for the fairness of your program.

Joe Gonzalez
Tampa, Fl



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