the long road to war
saddam hussein at a rally
Discussion: What does this FRONTLINE report on the history of America's confrontation with Iraq say to you about the endgame the U.S. now is approaching with Saddam Hussein?


This was an excellent broadcast which showed what I believe to be the basis for the trouble with our country and what others have not mentioned - From the show it states "Saddam becomes a leader of the Ba'ath Party's student cell in Cairo and reportedly regularly visits the U.S. embassy to meet with CIA agents interested in sparking Gen. Kassem's overthrow." We knew what Saddam was like back in the 50's.

Same with bin Laden - he was our ally during the Russian/Afghanistan war. The amount of covert wars that have gone on are incredible - we need to open our eyes and read about the real military history of the U.S. "The Long Road to War" will hopefully be re-shown. It helped confirm what else I've learned recently about our government - we're not necessarily the good guys. On the other hand I believe our troops should be "supported" - we can back them - but not necessarily the views of the Administration.

tucson, az


I happened upon this show late one night while surfing. More people need to see this.

Even without 9/11 the "Hawks" would have been campaigning to take out Saddam. 9/11 gave them the voice they needed to be heard. Right or wrong, the bus was being warmed up for all these years, the green light just had to be given. Please re-air this show ASAP!

Jay Anderson
new haven, ct


As a lawyer (who did not vote for either Bush), I found the story balanced and wish everyone protesting the current war (or supporting it) would watch this program and see the unbiased approach of each side.

In the end, I conclude that this crisis is a continuation of the first Gulf War. I found it very troubling that Saddam believed he won the first war and that the United States miscalculated the level of Saddam's brutality in fighting against the Kurds and the Sunnis in the south. Shame on America (and the United Nations) for not having the fortitude to complete the job back in 1991. We never learn from history.

John Milano
arlington heights, il



ely, minnesota


After surfing the channels and being bombarded with the latest news on what missiles were launched and what explosions were going off, I was very happy to find your documentary that was actually educational rather than just a pure reporting of the latest fighting.

The show gave me a much better understanding of the history of the conflict and has helped me not only feel better about understanding why our government has made certain decisions and is allowing me to discuss the issues with my colleagues in a more informed manner.

I did enjoy the show, however, I was not sure what angle it was taking. The music got quite somber at the end to imply that Bush is highly influenced by his close advisors and they are the ones we must keep a close watch on. The beginning of the show made us feel as if we should definitely do something about Saddam but the end of the show made us feel like we rushed into it as unfinished business from a prior administration. However, in the end, it was a wonderful collaboration of interviews and I hope your program gets shown again and again.

Robyn Goldstein
brooklyn, ny


Andrew Altrichter of Philadelphia, pa wrote. ". .. it's appalling that men like Paul Wolfowitz ... used the events of September 11th to push their own global ambitions."

What is interesting is how the same video report resolves to totally opposite conclusions. Taking out of this report, I thought it portrayed Wolfowitz a being 10 years ahead of everyone else's ability to forcast the results which would come from not removing Saddam the first time.

I see Wolfowitz not so much pushing his "own global ambitions" as much as finally being vindicated and having a contingency plan already in place, And contrary to much of the commentary here, it does little good to the US image of now being the only super power if we use that power as an empowerment to sit idly by and let the rest of the world go to hell in a hand basket. As Spiderman's father correctly assessed, "With great power comes great responsibility." As the New Testament clearly teaches, "To whom much is given, much is expected."

I can think of only one other broadcast which has provided me with a greater understanding of the region than this PBS video report and that was Thomas Friedman's talk at SIAS just prior to the President's initial new conference. PBS should air Friedman's talk along with "The Long Road to War" for a more than adequate appreciation not only from the American perspective, but also the Iraqi perspective.

Loren Senders
plainfield, illinois


Thank you for your very informative program. your program helped to put alot of things into perspective.

I especially appreciate how you provide transcripts of your interviews and how you don't take people's words out of contexts (Iget upset when reporters choose to interpret rather than report). thank you for promoting informed understanding of histories and current events.

about my own thoughts of the current situation, i must say i'm comforted that there are officials (Americans, British, and other allied nations) who are not afraid to take up their responsibilities to face the sad realities of this world. i've just became a permanent resident and i feel very fortunate to be under a government that strive to provide long term security of its citizens. however, i'm a bit frightened by some of the "peace activists" and anti-war protests. i feel sad that they (i'm particularly thinking of the protest in san franscisco on march 20) chose to seek destruction while there are so many ways that they could have expressed their views. the government is a valid and lawful government and i am scared when people don't feel like they need to obey the law to begin with. some of those people stike me as never educated in logical thinking and in the important of facts and governmental processes. i hope the educational systems will focus on developing good thinking in kids in this country, otherwise i am afraid that some of them may end up agreeing more with the terrorists.

many thanks again for the quality programming.

charlottesville, virginia


. The real service of this broadcast ...was in reminding viewers how systmatically over a decade SH succeeded in flauting the international community and preventing the arms inspectors from doing their job.

It also reminds us how Paris, Moscow and Beijing have always put thier interests ahead of the interests of the international community and the Iraqi people. Indeed, this broadcast calls sharply into question the presence of these 3 nations' position as permanent security council members and how it is this aspect, and not the purported arrogance of the United States, that is rendering the UN irrelevant. Thank you for this concise broadcast overview.

Al Fabrizio
elizabeth, nj


Thank you for "The Long Road to War". The program gave perspective on the USA's pending preemptive strike on Suddam Hussein and Iraq.

The questions that I keep asking myself are many. Most of my questions rise out of a now better understanding of the HAWKS. I am deeply concerned with the ramifications of Paul Wolfowitz's draft that "argues for a new military and political strategy in a post-Cold War world. Containment, it says, is a relic of the Cold War. America should talk loudly, carry a big stick, and use its military power to preempt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). And if America has to act alone, so be it".

Why so bold? Why such an isolationist approach? in a global society, how do we think we can be so alone in our approach? This is a very complex situation with layers upon layers of strings attached to each and every strategic move made by the US. Is there not an equally complex solution through diplomacy and international negotiations that is more inclusive of the UN? I also ask, how far do we push and when does it stop?

I have so many questions after watching the program. Thank you for the insight.

Julie Hutchison
phoenix, arizona


"The Long Road to War" is a fitting name for this documentary. I have read with much interest many of the other email submissions here of people who watched it. It is very informative. It has not changed my views of the imminent war, but I realize more acutely now after viewing it, that we may be nowhere near the end of the long road.

I wonder if time will show us if the decision to take out the Saddam regime now will put into motion a chaos of events and dynamics that none of its brokers and architects have the time, power, resources or inclination to address. Well done, thank you.

Christopher Bates
phoenix, az


Had I known that there was one program on the air that explained so much about the Mideast and the continuing problems there, I would have been on the phone all afternoon calling people to be sure they watched it.

It was fascinating and should have ended any doubt about the need for the US to intervene. Thank you again. I am hoping that it will be replayed soon.

Carl Rossi
huntington beach, ca


I missed the first part of the LONG ROAD TO WAR. As I see others have asked, might it be rebroadcast? Is it available on video/DVD? I've talked to a number of folks today who said that it really changed their position on the impending invasion. I've also heard that it got considerable "talk time" this morning on WCCO, the CBS radio affiliate here in the Twin Cities.

Even though I'm a retired USAF officer (Reserves) with a fair number of Vietnam combat missions and decorations, I was oppossed to this invasion until I viewed your coverage.

No matter the outcome, I will always think the Administration did a terrible job of informing, communicating and building a concensus not only internally, but in international diplomacy. The timing of your broadcast is interesting. Now that the die is cast, the LONG ROAD TO WAR helps those of us questioning the rationale better understand why.

Mike Murrell
shorewood, mn

FRONTLINE's editors respond:
Please contact your local PBS station which has the option to rebroadcast this program. Unfortunately, there are no DVDs or home videos of this program, just videotapes available in the coming weeks for educators.


I must say you caught me a bit off guard. I was not expecting to get good information without the driveling commentary.

The media usually brings much commentary with little information. You did a decent job that kept me up late watching instead of tuning out.

Gary Ford
los angeles, ca.


Congratulations on producing an incredibly powerful piece of pro-war propaganda. I am confident that the Bush state department could not itself generate such high quality work. The items posted on this discussion reveal just how persuasive the piece was.

Completely absent from your discussion was any reflection on the geo-politics of the region in regards to Israel, the one hundred billion barrels of oil underneath Iraq, the fact that any future "democratic" regime in Iraq would almost certainly be pro-Palestinian and therefore never tolerated by the US, the role Rumsfeld played in removing Iraq from the list of terrorist nations about 15 years ago, the disastrous way that Bush played the politics of the war, the inability of the adminstration to rally the international community, the complete absence of support for American policy by Iraq's neighbors -- Turkey, Iran, Syria, Egypt.

Most importantly, the show even obfuscates the central question: what is the state of the evidence in regards to the present development of WMD in Iraq, and how might these constitute a viable threat to the US?

I believe the show accomplished what it was intended to accomplish. Well done. It was, however, a shameful piece of journalism.

Stephen Adair
west hartford, connecticut


Although I am a McCain republican, I have had serious misgivings about the idea of so-called "pre-emptive war" with Iraq. At the same time I think our out of balance support of Zionism has been wrong-headed for decades, and that our treatment of the Palestinians has been shameful.

Your program on the events of the last 12 years has finally brought the Iraq situation into focus for me, and I fully support President Bush's decision announced last night. Thankyou for your unusual (for PBS) objectivity in presenting this information fairly and completely.

Doug Whitney
moscow, idaho


By chance, I happened to switch channels to PBS last night and watched the entire show. This production gave me a needed objective overview to the divisive political situation in which our country now finds itself. It was such a pleasure to watch a true analysis of the political prelude to this war, rather than listening to the boring and biased blathering of the so-called independent news channels offered up daily.

Although I may not agree with our current administration's political goals and strategies, after watching your report, I have a new appreciation of the political path taken and the myriad of policy problems facing the United States at this point.

Due to your production, I have a new level of respect for Secretary of State Colin Powell and his moderate views and far-reaching global outlook. The facts in your production lead us to surmise that perhaps Powell would make a better President than either Bush.

The bottom line on frontline is: this production filled in the missing information about our prelude to this war and I am thankful to PBS for providing it. Keep up the great work!

Robert S. Weber
hamilton, ohio


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