Talk about Newsnight


10 Days to War: Tell us what you think

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Mar 08, 06:17 PM

10 Days to War logoFrom 10 to 19 March before Newsnight each night BBC Two is showing a series of mini-films dramatising the build up to the start of the Iraq war.

Editor Peter Barron explained why Newsnight has supported these dramas on his blog. The lead up to war in Iraq is one of the most requested stories Newsnight receives and we've covered it extensively over the last five years.

Through drama we get an opportunity to focus on stories that otherwise we could do not either because cameras were not present or key people in the events do not want to be appear directly. Drama is also a way to reach an audience that would not normally watch the documentaries or news programmes.

We're keen to hear what you think of 10 Days to War. The purpose to the stories is to explore how we went to war, not why. Have you found them gripping? Have you discovered something new? Have you wanted to find out more or watch them again online? Can you not wait for the next one? Or perhaps you've hated them. Tell us here.

We want to know what you think of the dramas, please - not the decision to go to war.

Comments  Post your comment


The whole Blair phenomenon, from wannabe Mick Jagger to messianic leader in the Final Battle of Good against Evil, is all there in the public domain. It is a stark indication that nothing has changed since Hitler, and that our "democracy" is capable of promoting, and then following a leader into major folly,who has all the most dangerous attributes. Your dramatisation suits drama queen Blair's Britain but is anathema to those who want a change in politics that promotes deep integrity and honour, not shallow rhetoric and charisma.

  • 2.
  • At 09:56 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Daniel Harrison wrote:

The nu Labour party was voted into power because the majority of the population were promised a sleaze free government with strong ethical values on arms sales,East Timor,a resolution Iraq,human rights, environmental matters and such.

Blair failed to live up to his promises and in fact demonstrated completely opposite values to those he espoused.His attraction was to middle england who bought his public school persona. This was a charisma sell and the main reason GB did not take the helm although to those who understood economic matters charisma is far less important than ability.

Blair`s final war of good versus evil fools noone. He did`nt` do` God did he.If any thing this was and is a war by evil against one of their own assets who would not do as he was told -those on the side of `good` lack the courage to admit their crime and greed and set about reversing this crime.

Interestingly Blair has proclaimed that God is to be his judge on Iraq-not the people who voted for him,the broken families,the dispossessed,those whose lives have been destroyed and have lost everything,those who cry in pain each day or the people whose trust he gained. None of these. Only God can now judge him he declares. How very convenient.

  • 3.
  • At 10:24 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Dear Mr Barron

I like the shortness and the attempt to tackle specific issues in the lead up to Blair implementing his orders but whether any drama can get inside the skin and reflect the subtleties of human life I'm not sure.

Too many people it seems are willingly to "obey orders", Instead of Jackanory I grew up with accounts of what this can lead to, perhaps the weak civil servants who went along with Blair have led too sheltered a life, or perhaps they are simply LMF?

best wishes and keep pushing the envelope,


PS If you weren't stopped from making this was it that good though? and perhaps you are not saying all that could be said in relation of the media and the BBC and the interventions of the Government.....

  • 4.
  • At 11:51 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Hi Newsnight

sorry to post again, re Mr Crick's comments about the Chancellor, doesn't the "grey" man or woman sometimes last longer in organisations than the rest of us?

me especially!!

best wishes

  • 5.
  • At 11:56 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • John Torrance wrote:

"Everything that is in these films is informed by the people who were there."

That is in the trailer you have on site yet I have just watched the subjects of tonight's films on Newsnight (Claire Short and General Tim Cross) EXPLICITLY disown almost everything in the film incuding all their dialogue. I am sorry this whole series is starting to seem like self-serving nonsense, the BBC's revenge for the Hutton report. And if this is truly drama why why why are there no writers' credits? I have searched your site for them. The episode guide lists only directors.

  • 6.
  • At 12:02 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Loraine Hey wrote:

Whats happened to Newsnight reporters? Tonight's interview with Clare Short and Tim Cross was appalling. Jeremy Paxman listens, responds and questions intelligently. Tonight's interviewer appeared to be out of her depth and paying more attention to the voice in her earpiece than the comments from the interviewees. The whole event was tragic, especially when you are to be congratulated for airing 10 Days to War.

  • 7.
  • At 01:51 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Brian Light wrote:

Reading Ronan Bennet's article in Saturday's Guardian about the series, I'd rather expected that it was all going to centre around the browbeating of the smaller countries on the UN Security Council to support a second resolution.

I now realise that this is the focus only of Wednesday's episode. Well, good, it certainly needs to be better known, but a 10 minute drama cannot do it justice - it needs a major documentary in it's own right. How many people still believe the lie that only the threat of a French veto prevented the passing of a resolution authorising an invasion?

The heroic resistance of the smaller countries to the bullying, threats, deception and spying to make them conform has recieved almost no attention in all the coverage of Iraq.

  • 8.
  • At 09:21 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Mike Draper wrote:

My morning fix as I record "10 Days" followed by "Newsnight" the night before and watch with my morning cup of tea! Great stuff BBC. No one else will do it. OK so it's drama/doc but it should cause people to recognise that it demonstrates very well the frailty of decision making at international and national level AND NEVER NEVER NEVER presume our leaders be given powers beyond the bare minimum, nor trusted to act any more wisely than you and me. It's all very MUCKY! Just like daily life!!

  • 9.
  • At 09:41 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • steve wrote:

regardless of Emily's interviewing technique and her interupting of Clair Short why didn't she ask her why she didn't do a Robin Cook and stop the mad mess in it's tracks

  • 10.
  • At 09:45 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

I think they have been largely successful. It has helped, because already we (or certainly I) have started to forget exactly what happened in the run up to the war (in fact, I don't remember it that well as I was only 13, and not very interested).

I like the lack of dramatisation in them, if you know what I mean; they have not been made to be hugely entertaining but they seem to present the facts and recount the events accurately and in a way which makes us think about them, rather than trying to keep us entertained, which I think could have been a danger.

So, overall, very good.

P.S. You have missed a 'to' out in the second line of the last paragraph

  • 11.
  • At 09:57 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Sam Sowemimo wrote:

My comment relates to the disscussions that followed the short film about the Foreign office lawyer that resigned because she felt there was no legal basis for invasion of Iraq.

Jeremy Paxman asked one of the panelists whether it is not an absurd situation when the UK/USA has to scurry to places like Cameroon and Guinea to secure agreements a UN resolution. The implication of the question is that all these poor African countries should be effectively disenfranchised in International Politics. If such a comment had been made by a far-right politician, there would be justifiably an outcry. I am astonished that the Presenter of flagship news programme can come up with such an outrageous and backward statement. It merely confirms that the news media in general are part of the establishment in that their background and reference points are similar to mainstream politicians. It is the same kind of rationale that allows the major western countries to believe that because of their wealth and power, they are entitled to some kind of western dictarshop in International Affairs. If you apply the same principle to National politics, you can justify disenfranchising the poor and the weak from participating in politics. If you are looking for a demonstration of Institutional racism, that is a prime example. The unconscious belief in the superiority of the Powerful race against a poor and weak race. Why does the nuclear powers believe that it is their duty to ensure no other countries acquire nuclear weapons. Who gave them the right. It is a bit like believing it is OK for you to have a gun, because you believe you are God-fearing and a good person while it would be a disaster for your neighbour to have one because he is bad and unreliable. Who made you the arbiter of goodness and evil? It is such a monstrous principle. A whole swathe of people in the world are told that they don't matter and such views are being reinforced by the news media because these politicians are never challenged about the absurdity of their reference points. I expected better from Jeremy Paxman. Shame on you Mr Paxman!!

John (5)

Ronan Bennett is credited as the writer on all eight episodes.

Regarding the accuracy of last night's episode, both Clare Short and Tim Cross quibbled with some of the detail of their meeting but I certainly don't think they disowned it or disagreed with the thrust of it. Indeed, what they said in the course of the discussion corresponded quite closely to the issues portrayed in the drama.

Let's be clear that these programmes are dramas and have been been shaped by the writer, but they are based on intensive research of the documented evidence and interviews with those clodely involved at the time.



Many years ago, on the wireless, there was a forerunner to “I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue”, called “DOES THE TEAM THINK?” It just popped, unbidden, into my head.
By and large, the posters on the Newsnight blog seem a cogent lot, and are often critical of your output; culminating in almost universal condemnation of "Ten Days to War".
Is ALL news now to imitate art? Interviews in noisy, wind-blown streets, or sloping wandering, wobbling, focus-free camera-technique, and background razzmatazz “music” don’t add anything to INFORMATION. Why pay so much to your presenters when what they present is increasingly the current affairs equivalent of “musack”? Perhaps, to the extent that it is hanging itself in a rope of banality, news might now be termed “noose”. Is it something to do with the short attention span induced by “education education education” and the multiple-choice mentality of today’s examination passee? Or to put it another way: DOES THE TEAM THINK?

  • 14.
  • At 11:50 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

I've certainly found the drama thought provoking, although I haven't caught all of the studio discussions. But it would be good to follow up the week with a more forward-looking discussion of how we resolve this issue.


Peter Barron has taken John Torrance to task. (As the blog is currently configured, posts 5 and 12 refer.) I feel strongly moved to comment that by my recollection, Tim Collins was happy to let the misrepresentation go, while Clare Short declared the clip inaccurate. Then they went on to disagree with each other on detail! Clearly they were available to Ronan Bennett for an agreed approximation to what ACTUALLY passed between them – but that would not be DRAMA would it. QED

  • 16.
  • At 12:28 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • csharp wrote:

yes dramatising the story is good. But the real life videoettes are better because we know it can be said to be fact. The dramas can always be accused of hollywoodisation or made in an atmosphere of emotional hindsight and so portray false emotions. The villepan interview, the cook resignation and the now obvious hysterical PM in the War debate leave one in no doubt the govt were in a fever brought on by neoconitis.

Schools should show that War debate and ask the kids to point out the arguments used by the PM for war. And why even at the time they were wrong.

  • 17.
  • At 12:36 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Mags Hastings wrote:

Having, over five years ago, lived through the dread of the probable sequence of events, then the torment of their actual unfolding, it is good to see recorded the view that history will take. Assemble and retain the dramas: in five more years they will have even more significance.

  • 18.
  • At 12:54 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Sean O'Donahue wrote:

Superb series. Captivating and chilling. But why does Paxman effectively diss it by stacking the subsequent guests - like Mike Jackson whom some would call a war criminal - as if 'balance' was required.

  • 19.
  • At 01:38 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Bob Falconer wrote:

Superb programmes produced by the brave who are still willing to stand up to the, as yet untried, war criminals responsible for the rape of Iraq. Yo Brown will no doubt try to have the team resposible banned from ever working for the BBC again.

  • 20.
  • At 03:15 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • william beeby wrote:

Having watched the first three episodes so far I must congratulate the makers of this series of mini dramas portraying the build up to the invasion of Iraq.It is quite clear that the whole thing, and I am somebody who was against it all along, was illegal and un-planned in any way that would lead to any successful outcome.

Knowing what we know now why is nothing being done about this? I mean if it was/is illegal to do this to a sovereign nation are both Bush and Blair war criminals?

General Mike Jackson said that he was satisfied because he had read all the UN resolutions but if the Iraqi`s were telling the truth about no longer having any WMD`s then just how could they possibly have complied?

I`m sorry to say that it makes general Jackson complicit in what happened as well and he did refer to not wanting to occupy a cell in the Hague in fact.

I congratulate the BBC for making these programmes and now cannot wait to watch the rest of this excellent series. And by the way surely no-one can accuse the BBC of making any of this up or being in any way biased.

Thank you BBC for telling the un-spun truth about what actually happened.

  • 21.
  • At 02:17 AM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • Danny K wrote:

Have actually been posting about this drama series on another site but disappointed by the lack of posters, so have checked out here instead. Apologies if anyone recognises my posting from elsewhere but it's late, so I'll post what I've already said for speed:

I found it gripping stuff. Can't believe they think ten minute bites are acceptable for such riveting drama. I would have preferred ten full length episodes, whether 30, 60 or 90 minutes each - it's that good.

But ten minutes?!?

Someone nudge Michael Grade, and tell him that this is the kind of stuff that the beleaguered ITV channel should be tackling if it wants to climb out of the doldrums - but I digress, onwards:

"Ronan Bennett . . . keeps his well-known lefty sympathies out of the frame. He allows instead the sheer historic weight of events".

- I saw him being interviewed on Newsnight, and I must say I was extremely impressed with his professionalism and succinct answers. A model for anyone in a similar position. It would have been so easy as someone working that close to the subject matter to stray and offer personal opinions, (and I was waiting for that to happen), as any studio or satellite-link detractors would have pounced on those in pursuit of their own self-defence. But by sticking doggedly to the facts he was mightily impressive. If Blair was watching the ten minute episode, he must have been running a finger around his sweaty collar and thinking: The games up. How long before they come to take me away?

P.S. And what a terrific performance, (or being only ten miutes long shall we call it a cameo?) from Juliet Stevenson as Foreign Office lawyer Elizabeth Wilmshurst. What an exquisite slow-burn delivery, leading to carefully worded replies to her 'executioner'. It all bodes well for the future episodes - unmissable!

  • 22.
  • At 09:29 AM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • Carl wrote:

The BBC should be congratulated on making such a gripping drama on an issue that has raised so many tensions.

Whilst watching the first episode I wondered why such an excellent programme was only ten minutes long. Having watched the other episodes, I find that the duration just adds to the impact of the plotline.

My only thoughts are that this should be given a mainstream slot and be aired just before the 10'o clock news on BBC 1

  • 23.
  • At 10:28 AM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • SSC wrote:

This series is excellent and it points out so clearly that the reason why the US and the UK went to war is still very obscure.

In the light of the reality we now know, ie there were never weapons of mass destructions and Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and Al Qaeda, then why isn't there a demand from the international community to request an explanation from Pres Bush and PM Blair?

What this war has done, apart from dividing the middle east even more, is to create a perfect condition for further terrorism and more tension in the Israel/Palestine crisis.

I hope whoever comes after Pres Bush will be able to restore credibility and security in the world.

Bravo BBC and thank you!

  • 24.
  • At 11:03 AM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • George wrote:

You produce this sanctimonious piece of propaganda dressed up as drama and bang on about it every night and then last night (Thursday) Paxman has a wail about this and then follows it with a report on Iran where people suffer day in day out thanks to a tyranny.

Have you no shame?

You're so full of criticism but your solution is never made apparent.

Tell us what's to be done with tyrants. Please.

At the moment all you seem to implicitly suggest is handwringing - the only skill that's needed for a BBC reporter these days.

  • 25.
  • At 11:49 AM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Sam Sowemimo - I respect your views, but I think you may have misunderstood the thrust of Mr Paxman's point. It is precisely because the larger nations, and the permanent members of the UN Security Council, wield such clout, that they are able to steam-roller the views of smaller countries, thus disregarding their actual views in the way that you suggest.

If the larger nations really took the views of the smaller countries seriously they could just phone up to find out which way they were going to vote. The fact that they were getting on planes to see them indicates to me that they were rather more concerned in ensuring that the way the smaller countries were 'thinking' was brought into line with the needs of the ones who call the shots at the UN Security Council.

But please don't take my word for this - look up the work of John Pilger on the internet - it is very educational.

"Minutes after Yemen voted against
resolution to attack Iraq, a senior American diplomat told the Yemeni
ambassador: "That was the most expensive 'no' vote you ever cast." Within
three days, a US aid programme of $70m to one of the world's poorest
countries was stopped. Yemen suddenly had problems with the World Bank and
the IMF; and 800,000 Yemeni workers were expelled from Saudi Arabia. The
ferocity of the American-led attack far exceeded the mandate of Security
Council Resolution 678, which did not allow for the destruction of Iraq's
infrastructure and economy. When the United States sought another resolution
to blockade Iraq, two new members of the Security Council were duly coerced.
Ecuador was warned by the US ambassador in Quito about the "devastating
economic consequences" of a No vote. Zimbabwe was threatened with new IMF
conditions for its debt.

  • 26.
  • At 03:06 PM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • Lynden wrote:

I think this series '10 Days to War' is brilliant. Terrific actors which adds to the credibility. I presume the discussions are based on evidence from other participants. If true, this set of dramas are truly, incredulously and sadly gripping. Is it no wonder we have lost our national identity. We as a nation have always stood for fair play and consideration of others. These excerpts show just how devious our government has become. Their idealogy is all consuming and self rghteous, hidden by spurious beaurocratic and legal arguments. These dramas are totaly British, thoughtful, well written, analytical and superbly presented. Not 'dumbed down'. More of this please and perhaps more 'accessible'(hate the word) not late at night on BBC2 but, prime time. The BBC might find there is a more interested and cultured audience out there than just those who enjoy Newsnight or Radio 4 .

  • 27.
  • At 05:04 PM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • Danny K wrote:

I'm having terrible trouble getting my posts accepted. Will try one last time then move on permanently, as I have no technical problems with any other forum/blog sites at all -


Saw the second episode '9 days to war', and I have questions . . .

At the end of the second episode it showed all the real life Arab participants of the first and newly proposed Iraqi ruling government before the 2003 Iraqi war/invasion - and all are shown as still alive today and the positions they now hold also. I thought they were all dead. Isn't that what we've heard on news broadcast after news broadcast, that this or that Iraqi government minister was killed by a suicide bomber/roadside bomb/or in his home?

Just shows that news broadcasts and first-hand accounts of life there can lead you to make sweeping judgements. How the hell have they all managed to stay alive?

From a drama point of view, if the second episode was say just a piece of pure fiction, you would almost certainly write in to the plot that the Ahmed Chalabi protagonist, (don't rely on my spelling to seriously), would lose out the most.

And the turban wearing Art Malik character, (and again if just pure fiction), you just 'knew' that this devious character would back-stab Chalabi or go on to become the strongest of the group. The others came over as minor characters of no consequence. But without doubt The American fixer character appeared as a treacherous pig-faced waster. Again if this was fiction you'd expect him to get slotted in the final climax, done-in by his own underhand double-dealings - but he too, survives today.

When Paxo interviewed Mr Brooks, (that little odious American fixer) on Newsnight, I studied Brooks intently for body language signs that would reveal he was indeed the odious little twerp portrayed in the episode. I assumed his speech delivery would be rapid like the on-screen version, and his pronouncements filled with an edge of nastiness - but not at all - in fact, apart from physical resemblances he spoke slowly and deliberately, and however much Paxo goaded him, he refused to become combative.

Either he's a better actor than his onscreen representative or the left-wing credentials of Bennett, (the dramatist of the series), were indeed showing by way of demonising the Yank rather than his masters to whom he reported.

Other than that, I'm amazed they're all alive today in 2008 after all the daily suicide bombings. Even in that opening scenes of the episode it showed Brooks running along a dirt track road with a rifle slung over his shoulder to the meeting he had arranged with the Arab leaders. As I say, I'm just amazed they've all survived from that violent period until now, 2008.

But here's my big question: At the end of the episode it showed Ahmed Chalabi the leader of this little group, as out of power with, as the rolling credits informed us, NOT ONE seat for any of his own party in government, but all the others round that table still in power to this day.

Are we to infer from this that he was so disliked by the Iraqi people they turned their backs on him? Or as I read in to it, and informed by way of the odious little double-dealing American fixer as he told someone on the other end of his phone: 'The British don't want Chalabi - he's out!'

In other words were the Iraqi elections rigged by the governments of the Coalition forces?

  • 28.
  • At 06:09 PM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • robin lemare wrote:

I bet Niccolo Machiavelli wishes he was still around. Last night's portrayal of the arm twisting of "undecided" nations and subsequent discussion with two Ambassadors to UN (UK & Chile) involved was just up his street: a case study for any student of old Niccolo - though I'm sure he'd have preferred less of the "gangster" behaviour. By referring to such behaviour the Mexican ambassador lost his job and (once things were quieter) lost his life in a car accident. Gangsters are notoriously good at arranging such "accidents". Made me think of poor David Kelly.

  • 29.
  • At 08:22 PM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • Danny K wrote:

Damn. Missed the first five minutes of the Wed episode which meant I'd missed 50% of it. I've set the recorder NOW for the remaining episodes - thought I wouldn't forget to tune in; well I did! Still there's always the iplayer download thingy on here.

This ten minute business just doesn't suit my constitution at that time of night. Ten minutes means it could slot in around the 6:30pm or 6:50pm time, even 8:50pm if that was at all possible. But schedulers would never hear of it.

So, as a Johnny-come-lately to the Wednesday episode I assumed that was Claire Short in the frame. (Due to the excellent portrayal, turns out it was). Nice to see that holier-than-thou politician get shown-up for refusing to do the right thing when begged to by her advisor, Tim Cross. How that woman ever managed to convince the public she was the sole occupier of the moral high-ground during that time, simply beggars belief.

The post-interviews on Newsnight are now starting to become more than required viewing after watching the episodes themselves as quite simply they are such good fun!

Claire Short and the General who advised her, (Tim Cross), were being interviewed. As the camera opened on them, Claire Short sat impassive with a face like thunder, (Tee hee! Wonder why?)

The attractive looking interviewer opened with questions to the General first, after which, the interviewer attempted to put questions to Claire Short. Claire immediately protested before answering the question put to her with: "The drama is a drama but it's not true!" Well that's that then, Claire says it's not true. Let's all pack up and go home. Except we are home and I bet it is true. Then incredibly like a bad workman blaming his tools, proceeded to blame the General for failing to advise her correctly in the first place.

Once her mouth was open it was difficult to stop her now she was in full flow. For reasons of safety, the General had already scuttled behind the white flag of acquiescence but the interviewer battled on, attempting to put a question to her. The cheek of it! Claire Short immediately castigated the interviewer, (have I mentioned how attractive-looking the interviewer is?), for committing such rudeness, screaming: "You're not listening to me!"

Claire dear, no one had any choice but to do just that; your voice was all we could hear!

Boy, was she was rattled. Another one running a finger round their sweaty collar, fearing their 'legacy' slipping away.

However, Claire scored a direct hit, as the attractive interviewer huffed, puffed and protested her innocence, letting her quarry escape. I felt sorry for the interviewer as I find her quite attractive, and wonder if someone could ask her on my behalf in a Joey-off-Friends kind of way: What you doing after the show?

Meanwhile, now Claire had all the scalps in her lap, she visibly relaxed into relating how she wants US to remember her involvement as SHE sees history.

Some have posted on here that her protest means the drama is flawed. Or as Claire would have it: Not true. But judging by behaviour and reactions alone, I'd say she's suffering from 'tape-recording delusion'.

What I mean is: Remember the first time you heard your own voice recorded and played back to you? Just about all of us have said in disbelief: 'Eeww, surely that's not how I sound is it?' The reality, not at all pleasing to our own view of our preferred self-image. Well the truth pained Claire Short terribly - she did not like her portrayal - so the General got it in the neck. As far as Claire's concerned, it's all his fault, and might as well have said: 'I would never behave like that towards others, would I?'

At this rate Newsnight is going to find the next couple of night's guests suddenly unavailable due to (cough), ahem . . . unforeseen 'previous engagements.'

  • 30.
  • At 10:17 PM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • Simon Tucker wrote:

These drama's are fantastic. Difficult as the subject matter is; due to the weight of differing opinion, I believe what has been aired so far is balanced, wondefully dramatised and beautifully shot. The information that has not, as far as I am aware, been previously made public is fascinating. A well written piece. Well done BBC2.

  • 31.
  • At 11:08 PM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • John wrote:

I thought Paxman was going to do an Alan Clark and start raving about 'Bongo-Bongoland'!

Brillintly done drama. well done BBC. Not sure why it is under the Newsnight umbrella, and the overdone news analysis which is usually conducted on the programme. Only at elections is Newsnight really necessary. Anyway the drama makes you want to know the characters involved more, and their life after the war is underplayed. The "death in a car crash" for the Mexican ambassador sends shivers up your spine.

  • 33.
  • At 12:24 AM on 15 Mar 2008,
  • Danny K wrote:

As I'm new to this site, and after several attempts managing to successfully get this dinosauric blog posting forum to accept my posts, I'm emboldened to try again and see if it'll accept my missives with one click only this time. Here goes:

I'm now obsessed with viewing the real-life participants from history defending themselves on Newsnight interviews after seeing them in action in the proceeding drama and this time, understanding so much more, that there's no need for The Hague
- It is us, the viewing public who are placing them on trial. In fact, how some of the lesser players are perceived and treated by others in their day-to-day lives may well depend on their honesty in these interviews.

I believe these interviews to be that important.

I'm calling them: 'The Hague Interviews from Newsnight'. Hope the interviewers are up to the job.

Anyway, time for a reversal of my mirth at the self-protective-it-wasn't-me politicians and administrators as last night's, (Thursday), Newsnight Interviews showed another side.

The drama showed the utterly disgraceful way, undue and unfair pressure was brought to bear on the Latin American UN members to side with the US and the UK in agreeing to commit to war against Iraq. Mention of: 'bombing them back to the stone age' was bandied about by the Americans to put fear into others to comply. The statesmanship accorded by Tom Conti to his role of Mexican Ambassador Adolofo Zinser was particularly impressive. The fact that Zinser was made to relinquish his post and died two years later in a car accident remains suspicious as Robin Lemare alludes to in post No:28 & Darren Sutton at No:33 above.

It's believed by some that the CIA are not above punishing foreign statesmen and women who it deems are working against American interests. In the 1950's the Canadian Ambassador, (Lester Norman), is widely believed to have been murdered by them, although officially he committed suicide - He fell from a multi-story building in Cairo; Yes I should think that's the preferred method of suicide the average Canadian politician would choose.

A decade later, after McCarthyism was thought to be over it was rumoured, that the CIA wanted the then Canadian Prime Minister out of office, (thrilling Canadian film made of the event), and once again it is widely rumoured that the Canadian Ambassador (Watkins), was murdered as a message to the then Prime Minister, (accusations of spying for the communists were bandied about), although the official death certificate states he died of a heart attack. What can you say? Except that it was strange for Canadian Ambassadors' to die in Office, (I think it was rumoured that the CIA forced Watkins to resign first though).

So, the Mexican Ambassador dying in a car accident was probably just as reported by the authorities. Which reminds me, what was it that Albert Einstein once said about: "Unthinkable respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth"?

I sincerely hope that in getting to the bottom of affairs in Countdown to War that Ronan Bennett has been VERY disrespectful to all the authorities involved in his researches.

Anyway, during Sir Jeremy Greenstock's interview, unusual body language signals were easily detectable. The portrayal of Sir Greenstock in the drama was that of an absolute b*s*a*d towards the Mexican Ambassador. Yet during his interview it was as if the reality of 5 years continuing war in Iraq had meant he'd undergone some sort of road-to-Damascus epiphany. When pushed by Paxo about the UK's ruthlessness towards the Latin Americans, it was as if the death of the Mexican Ambassador was in the forefront of his mind because his voice dropped several decibels to answer quietly that he had no part in the bugging of the Ambassador's office. Pressed again his voice dropped yet lower, his chin receded ever so slightly back into his neck, and almost imperceptibly it was as if he was leaning away from the question. Paxo could have pushed harder but I suspect he detected something and took pity on the man. He changed tack and Sir Greenstock started to admit sorrow for how events unfolded under his stewardship of the lobbying. And once broken by Paxo, he couldn't stop admitting to sorrow. It was as if a dam had burst and he'd been waiting for just such an opportunity to say so.

It's clear, here was a man who was NOT out to make himself look innocent and blame others; he seemed to have genuine sorrow.

- And that's what we want to hear; THE TRUTH. Oh how different our view of Claire Short could have been.

Step down Sir Greenstock, the gavel has been smartly tapped. Charges dismissed. You're free to go.

Friday night's episode was less impressive. Maybe because it's much harder for a white western man to get inside an Islamic fundamentalist cleric's confidences. So it wreaked of second-hand accounts with no written evidence to support the suppositions. It was the weakest episode by far, (and there have been no weak episodes this week). It hung badly in the air that the 'good-guy' Muslim group had saved and admitted into their group a member,
a British citizen bred and born here no less, who proudly told them:
"But at least if I kill at least one American soldier, it would be something".

We're told that particular Muslim is now 'saved' and in effect a 'good guy' today, doing good respectable work.

Hmmm. . .

  • 34.
  • At 02:32 AM on 15 Mar 2008,
  • ivan Martin wrote:

The support posted for the poor down trodden small nations of the United Nations in many comments, does not take into account the fact that many would never vote for something seen as engineered by a post colonial country just for that very reason.
How many of these small countries have a tyrannical despot calling the tune and acting in an appallingly hypocritical way. All the criticism implying that the west is wagging war against Islam seem to forget that NATO went to the aid of Muslims in Bosnia and the Balkans generally.Incidently, I thought it was the avoid intention of many of the more extreme Muslims to replace the laws of the infidels! Many of my country men have gone soft and can’t seem to see that there are many who would take our hospitality only to plot our demise-get real.

  • 35.
  • At 02:40 PM on 15 Mar 2008,
  • Peter Nicklin wrote:

Excellent dramas - some remind me of the quality and the atmosphere of the Le Carre Tinker, tailor series. Although Clare Short and Tim Cross say they didn't say the things in their dramatized discussion, it nontheless succinctly summarised the reasons for the catastrophe that was to come. Unlike Tim Cross, we didn't have access to the Pentagon's astoundingly stupid post invasion plan. If we had, there might have been a spontaneous uprising.

Outstanding performances so far: Juliet Stevenson as Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Art Malik as Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, Stephen Rea as Tim Cross and, the Bafta goes to Barbara Flynn who really was Clare Short.

PS Dear BBC. Your website is still behaving very badly when people try to blog. Get the tekkies to sort it out! It's been like this for months.

  • 36.
  • At 07:54 PM on 15 Mar 2008,
  • Phil, Sheffield wrote:

Why are we talking about unravelling the spin and twisted things that happened before the war on a bbc programme, when the bbc is the most biased, corrupt, spun and loopy left wing organisation there is???

If we are going to show a programme like this, the programme on how Beharry won is VC should also be shown...which the bbc said it wasnt showing as it was too 'pro war'.

The bbc is supposed to be an un-biased news organisation giving facts to the public. Not trying to shape pulic opinion by twisting facts!!

These kind of programmes/ideas enrage me!!

At least show the Beharry programme to balance the scale.

All I can say to the people who belive in the rubbish this programme tries to put across is go and live in old Iraq, or anywhere where there is a tyrannical dictator in charge and see if you dont want help from the outside world. We should never appease tyrants!!!

The meat hooks in police station cellars my friend saw when he was serving and involved in the LIBERATION were not for cattle, were they???

Anyway...rant over....please bbc give us unbiased facts.

  • 37.
  • At 11:55 PM on 15 Mar 2008,
  • Danny K wrote:

Well what a terrific first week of the five 'Countdown To War' episodes. First class. I'd like to say it was thoroughly entertaining, but it was more than that.

In fact, just as a fictional work like the film Apocalypse Now, can leave a lasting impression of the horror of the Vietnam war, better even than seeing actual news reports and reading of interviews with the combatants, and just as the fictional opening scenes of the D-Day landings of WWII in the film Saving Private Ryan can give a more accurate and lasting impression that informs today's youngsters more memorably than their school textbooks based on hard facts can, so Countdown to War carries out the same 'come-aliveness' of what happened behind closed doors when all anyone knew up to this point were news reports of the time that simply said, "At a meeting of UN members today it was agreed that . . ." What was ACTUALLY said? Who got angry with whom? What actual words were spoken? Well now we have a damn good idea - better than reading any news report; and we've been assured it's all based on interviews/research with the living combatants, and as accurate as humanly possible. I for one, am grateful to all involved for their dedicated involvement in bringing this drama to our screens, and for once really letting us know the fuller story, (and truth), behind the news reports.

The overwhelming conclusion of the posts on here are one of, (well deserved), congratulations to the BBC, but Darren Sutton at Comment No:32 pays the ultimate compliment that any dramatist in the world longs to hear with: ". . . Anyway the drama makes you want to know the characters involved more . . ."

Yes me too, and I think it's fair to say, so does everyone else.

As to those undeniably angry posters who disagree and said things like:
"Many of my countrymen have gone soft,"
"All I can say to the people who believe in the rubbish this programme tries to put across,"
"You produce this sanctimonious piece of propaganda dressed up as drama,"
and, "I am sorry this whole series is starting to seem like self-serving nonsense".

I can only ask them:

As reported today, What do you think of Jonathan Powell, one of Blair's most trusted advisors, who served as Blair's chief of staff between 1995 and 2007, and was the person Blair turned to throughout that period for advice, who has now done an about-face and said the if he was still in power he would today be advising the Prime Minister that we should be talking to al Qaeda with a view to ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

That's one ex- senior Labour advisor who held your viewpoints until today. What say you now?

In fact, just to give you documented facts so I can't be accused of pure fiction, here is a direct lift of what he actually said: "If I was in government now I would want to have been talking to Hamas, I would be wanting to communicate with the Taliban; and I would want to find a channel to al Qaeda."

In other words, he wants to ASK THEM if they would consider handing us our ball back, p-le-a-s-e, because we really, really, want to go home now.

Yep, you may be right about your countrymen going soft; so, care to go there yourself and show them what a real hard man can do by stepping up to the frontline? Or do you prefer to remain in the comfort of your cosy home, safe and secure as an armchair general urging others to spill their blood and die for you?

  • 38.
  • At 12:28 AM on 16 Mar 2008,
  • Tim Oxton wrote:

Sam Sowemimo (comment no 11 above) is right to say shame on Jeremy Paxman, for exactly the reasons stated, but he is wrong to be surprised. He should remember how George Galloway showed Paxo up as an ignorant, arrogant bully in his place on election night 2005. (Come on BBC, show us the clip of that. Wish it was on Youtube.)

Anyway, sadly I have only been able to see bits of the series so far. The structure of 10 mins each night, followed perhaps by a discussion at some point in the next 40 minutes, is just too difficult to handle. If I'm at home, I want to see Question Time, I want to hear the Radio 3 essay series on Tacitus, I want to hear TMS from New Zealand. I will drop those things for your Iraq war series, but not if I have to sit through tedious stuff about the Budget. I might even be out living my life instead of quietly decaying in front of the telly. I don't care how famous the actors are, this whole thing is just too bitty, it comes across as an imitation of those little 3-minute things at 19h55 on Channel 4, too short to bother with.

Thanks for trying, BBC, it's better than most of your output, but it is not good enough.

  • 39.
  • At 09:38 AM on 16 Mar 2008,
  • Diana Wetherell wrote:

I have been shocked by the imformation imparted by this superb drama series, which for the record has for been for me, a real eye opener. It appears to have been well researched and produced. Lets have more progs like it.well done BBC.

  • 40.
  • At 11:54 AM on 16 Mar 2008,
  • Dave McAuslan wrote:

10 days excellent. Pity about Newsnight.

  • 41.
  • At 05:32 PM on 16 Mar 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:


Why is anyone surprised? Liberal-Democracy means Anarcho-Capitalism not National-Socialism or Socialism In One Country. Baatthism is just a variant on of the same left-wing theme. The Neo-Con led war was about undermining Baathism via anarchism in the Middle East (same was done in 1945 in Germany). It helped Israel and it thwarted the Shanghai Group's plans. Plus ca change....

All clear now?

  • 42.
  • At 07:29 PM on 16 Mar 2008,
  • Danny K wrote:

" He should remember how George Galloway showed Paxo up as an ignorant, arrogant bully in his place on election night 2005. "

Interesting - only I didn't see it like that at all. I thought Galloway, reinforced his image as a belligerent polemist intent on bolstering his fighting credentials, against anyone with a reputation for combativeness with a display that as good as said: 'Come and get me if you think you're hard enough', like some kind of black-hatted gunslinger. He was using us, the viewer, for self-promotion - don't they all?.

That doesn't mean I think you're wrong to view the spat in the way you have done. But it explains why I think the Countdown dramas have been superb and very informative, (accepting that when one person dramatises a story there are inevitable personal interpretations on the truth as that person sees it), whilst others on this board are disappointed with the series.

I'm thinking: It's excellent. 'Why can't they see the obvious quality?'

And they're thinking of those of us who applaud the series: 'It's rubbish. Why can't THEY see the obvious bias?'

It all depends on how you look at the world.

In Tom Clancy's Novels about his hero Jack Ryan of the CIA, he depicts the CIA is an heroic organisation, fighting on behalf of the little man. The CIA may use satellite technology to watch a Specials Forces team summarily execute a suspect terrorist organisation out in the desert of a country that is unfriendly towards the USA, but Jack Ryan never takes any pleasure in the deed, and appears to swallow hard when okaying such executions. Why, in one book, even a wayward President of the United States of America, with questionable morals, is brought to heel by the heroic-fighting-only-for-good CIA agent Jack Ryan.

That's how Tom Clancy sees the CIA - heroic; always.

In every book his devotion to their heroic status never wavers.

I don't think there's any need to extend this post further by quoting from the countless novels, (by loyal American authors), who depict the CIA as an out-of-control state authorised execution and torture squad towards anyone who gets in their way.

Both views are valid, yet each holder of the opposing view, asks of the other: Why can't they see the obvious truth?

And so it is with Countdown to War. It's never going to please everyone. But as long as the pleaser's are in greater numbers than those who are displeased, then it'll be regarded as a success.

It just so happens to be this poster's personal opinion that it is a success.

Why can't the detractors see that?

  • 43.
  • At 08:11 PM on 16 Mar 2008,
  • Mr Raymond Stacey wrote:

Can anyone remember before the Iraq when I'm sure Saddam said that if American's invaded Iraq they would enter a "LIVING HELL"

They did, and who did they fight. They all vanished, presumably to Syria as the next news was that Saddam was emptying the banks. Wagon loads of money of all denominations were leaving Iraq for Syria.

The Baathists were all stil prepared to try and regain contol and wre well funded with Saddam's loot.

Did anyone see the same news?

Excellent series, and timely. Well written, well produced, well played.

Full marks

Namaste -ed

  • 45.
  • At 07:31 AM on 17 Mar 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

RECONSTRUCTION (Think Morgenthau Plan)

Why is anyone surprised? Liberal-Democracy means Anarcho-Capitalism not National-Socialism or Socialism In One Country. Baathism's just a
variant on the same left-wing theme.

The Neo-Con led war was about undermining Baathism via anarchism in the Middle East (same was done in
1945 in Germany). It helped Israel and it thwarted the Shanghai Group's regional plans. Plus ca change....

All clear now?

  • 46.
  • At 12:41 PM on 17 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Collier wrote:

Brilliant series! Encapsulates the poor planning and legitimacy of going to war in the first place, particularly the scant regard to what was going to happen afterwards. As dramas go this is timely and well written, although as with any programme of this nature there is bias on the part of the writer. Neverthelesss, very interesting and informative. Are there any plans to merge the programmes and make them available for downlaod or purchase?

  • 47.
  • At 08:45 PM on 17 Mar 2008,
  • John W wrote:

Worthy of being produced. 10 minute is good where some very complex matters would be introduced if each session were longer.
Good casting and good performances
Tapes should not be wiped - these shown again just before any election clamp down.
Look forward to this style of programme being used on many other issues BUT please not bloody Bloddy Sunday

  • 48.
  • At 10:29 PM on 17 Mar 2008,
  • Sarah wrote:

bloody brilliant. a way of showing people of all walks of life and all age groups what actually happened and also how it happens, a real education into how politics works and a show of how powerless we really are as citizens and also as a country if you are not Britain or USA! makes you understand other countries issues with us!

  • 49.
  • At 12:13 AM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Patrick Wise wrote:

I have been very impressed with the quality of drama thus far. although one should never judge a book until the last page, I think it is safe to conclude that "10 Days to War" was a worthwhile spend of public money, and indeed should be rerun to ensure the most people are able to see it.

However, I was quite disappointed in only one respect: that there were no guest appearances from the cast of Newsnight. For example Jeremy Paxman could have played a member of the Kurdish resistance, Gavin Estler an overworked government official ensconced in Whitehall, and Michael Crick would have made a perfect U.N. weapons inspector, replete with blue cap and bermuda shorts.

Basically what it breaks down to is I'd like to see more of Michael Crick's legs. As I do pay my license fee, I really think it is the least I can expect.

Would it be possible to see the whole archive of Newsnight programmes for 10 Days to War 2003? I have seen Mark Urban's "war plan" review and the 5.32 min clip, but I'd like to see all 10 episodes from 2003 made available on the series site and in iPlayer.

Have found all the short films very thought provoking and well produced, though I think there should have been discussion on the 'blowback' episode and more guests joining Lord Butler today.

The archive of newsnight from March 10-19th 2003 is available on the website - see Newsnight 2003 :

The archive of Newsnight from March 10-19th 2003 is available on the website - see Newsnight 2003 :

  • 53.
  • At 09:35 AM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Collier wrote:

Brilliant series! Encapsulates the poor planning and legitimacy of going to war in the first place, particularly the scant regard to what was going to happen afterwards. As dramas go this is timely and well written, although as with any programme of this nature there is bias on the part of the writer. Nevertheless, very interesting and informative. Are there any plans to merge the programmes and make them available for download or purchase?

  • 54.
  • At 12:49 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Lisa wrote:

Last night we had an interview with Robin Butler to accompany the lastest episode. Jeremy opened by accepting that all the experts (including Hans Blix) believed Saddam to have WMD, but then when it comes to Tony Blair accepting all this, Mr Paxman posed the question: "Was he naive?" Naive? What? He's supposed to discount all this intelligence?

The question is completely illogical. What would you have him use in place of intelligence, Jeremy? A crystal ball?

When it comes to the question of naivety, I couldn't help thinking of your own, Jeremy. Why didn't you at any stage in the interview ask Butler whether there was even the possibility that WMD had been spirited over the borders before the coalition got there?

If it's such an absurd question, what do you have to fear from asking it?

You know full well about the amount of bombing that took place in Syria last year yet for a broadcaster that usually likes to leap all over any air attack bombings in areas like that, you seem content not to ask Syria why it wouldn't let the media anywhere near the fallout site.

The more I watch Newsnight and the BBC, the more I see that it really isn't in your interests to ask questions about what happened in Syria because you've now invested so much time and energy in trying to persuade us otherwise that if your position were shown not to be the case, you wouldn't have a shred of credibility left, would you?

  • 55.
  • At 04:01 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • STEVE wrote:

10 days to War is a wonderful opportunity to criticize our leaders who have behaved in a most incompetent manner. Not since the Zulu Wars have we had so much egg on our faces - and there is little chance of retrieving the situation, with a Rorks Drift type action.
One of the guilty factions in this sorry time in our history is the British electorate, who voted Blair into office not once but THREE times. Next time you bash Blair, look in the mirror and ask yourself how he got there.


Thanks for the links Harshad, but the clips on that page are short edits, I want to watch the full Newsnight programmes from 2003 as they where aired in their entirety.

  • 57.
  • At 10:01 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Geoffrey Bastin wrote:

I'm not sure why some comments are so complicated. The series has been most informative and good drama which helps everyone remember some of the detaila nd events of five years ago. I was in favour of military intervention then and still am. It probably saved a much bigger and worse conflict developing in a few years time. It lanced the boil.
The US required a base in the area and Saudia Arabia would not co-operate so Iraq was the next best thing. Countries have interests not friends and control over our oil supplies for the next three decades was the most important concern. It has all been done before and it will happen again. Legality is simply a game for the purists where everyone else has requirments and interests. It might sound harsh but it the way of we two legged creatures. Yes the series is good and I look forward to the next episodes. The follow-up can be Afganistan and the long term need to build a large pipeline which to date has not been acknowledged. Why must we keep taking about democracy when in reality it is all about wealth and black gold.

  • 58.
  • At 10:46 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Danny K wrote:

- "Countries have interests not friends and control over our oil supplies for the next three decades was the most important concern." -

Which ultimately begs the question:

- How the hell did YOUR oil get under THEIR sand?

  • 59.
  • At 04:42 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • George Roussopoulos wrote:

I have watched this with growing fascination. The whole story is of course poignant. However what has struck me is how each spell of 10 minutes has been so effective in depicting the essence of a complex subject, not just by words, or by images but also in creating a mood. Poetic condensation yet realism too.

Very powerful, well chosen episodes and characters, very dense. So much more effective than Channel 4's 3 minute wonders - which are not bad, but perhaps too short to work.

I wonder how the whole sequence might come over in one spell - maybe too rich? I hope you do transmit it in one later. And maybe try it again ... on Suez 1956 for instance? The miners' strike? Northern Ireland? Collapse of apartheid? S Rhodesia??

Congratulations and thanks to director, actors, advisers, cameramen, sound men and all, superb and unique.

  • 60.
  • At 05:04 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • George Roussopoulos wrote:

I have watched this with growing fascination. The whole story is of course poignant. However what has struck me is how each spell of 10 minutes has been so effective in depicting the essence of a complex subject, not just by words, or by images but also in creating a mood. Poetic condensation yet realism too.

Very powerful, well chosen episodes and characters, very dense. So much more effective than Channel 4's 3 minute wonders - which are not bad, but perhaps too short to work.

I wonder how the whole sequence might come over in one spell - maybe too rich? I hope you do transmit it in one later. And maybe try it again ... on Suez 1956 for instance? The miners' strike? Northern Ireland? Collapse of apartheid? S Rhodesia??

Congratulations and thanks to director, actors, advisers, cameramen, sound men and all, superb and unique.

I would love to comment on the series. I've managed to see some, and was particularly impressed with the UN programme and the first with the lawyer's resignation. However, I had to miss a couple like last night's due to work, and because I am apparently not in the correct territory here in Dartmoor, I am not allowed to see the films I missed first time around. So many thanks, BBC, for this marvelous new iplayer that prevents people watching your clips. "Cannot play media. Sorry, this media is not available in your territory." Indeed? If Brits living in Britain aren't allowed to see the ruddy things, who is?

  • 62.
  • At 10:23 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

Having recently returned from 10 years living abroad in Australia and USA - I have to say that no other broadcaster would have produced something that would be anywhere near the calibre of this series.

Absolutely top notch.
Excellent. Well done to all involved.

  • 63.
  • At 11:45 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • George Roussopoulos wrote:

I have watched this with growing fascination. The whole story is of course poignant. However what has struck me is how each spell of 10 minutes has been so effective in depicting the essence of a complex subject, not just by words, or by images but also in creating a mood. Poetic condensation yet realism too.

Very powerful, well chosen episodes and characters, very dense. So much more effective than Channel 4's 3 minute wonders – but not a fair comparison.

I wonder how the whole sequence might come over in one spell - maybe too rich? I hope you do transmit it in one later. And maybe try it again ... on Suez 1956 for instance? The miners' strike? Northern Ireland? Collapse of apartheid? S Rhodesia??

Congratulations and thanks to director, actors, advisers, cameramen, sound men and all, superb and unique.

  • 64.
  • At 11:52 AM on 20 Mar 2008,
  • Geoffrey wrote:

On a positive note, if Newsnight would like to positively reduce the world pressure caused by the propaganda "War on Terror", then Newsnight, make a serious call and on-going campaign to indict and arrest (including hold in remand in prison - no bail) the conspiratorial war criminals who started the illegal and immoral Iraq War, in the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, including but not limited to; George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Shotgun Cheney, Madam Rice, Butcher Rumsfeld, Hawk Wolferwitz, (sorry about the name spelling) and others.

It will go some way to addressing the wrongs and to help the Islamic community see the real world is not soft on taking the war criminals on.

  • 65.
  • At 01:01 PM on 20 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Collier wrote:

Brilliant series! Encapsulates the poor planning and legitimacy of going to war in the first place, particularly the scant regard to what was going to happen afterwards. As dramas go this is timely and well written, although as with any programme of this nature there is bias on the part of the writer. Nevertheless, very interesting and informative. Are there any plans to merge the programmes and make them available for download or purchase?

  • 66.
  • At 10:06 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Vosill wrote:

Brilliant series of programmes that showed the complexities of the situation whilst illustrating that it didn't matter how much opposition there was to the war,or in how many quarters, it was always going to happen.Insightful and thought provoking,more please.

  • 67.
  • At 12:18 AM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Peter Larkin wrote:

For the first time I realised the futility of the war thanks to this excellent series. Although there was nothing specifically aimed toward a tear-jerking moment, one episode had me crying for the fact that (according to the drama) the Iraqi people had assisted the UN in every step of the search for those WMD. I never realised just how divided our nation was over our opinions and it gives me great hope that there were MP's who made the tough decision to step down and/or vote against the war. Turns out they were the ones that should have been listened to...

  • 68.
  • At 12:26 AM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Rambler wrote:

Unfortunately I am a little further away than Dartmoor and also in a territory where the media is not available. I'm not a licence fee holder so can't complain but I would love to be able to have followed the series.
I well remember this period. Though there was much official banging of war drums, many in Britain (a majority?) were initially against the war and only gave grudging support once 'our lads' were in danger. Certainly abroad, in the countries not bullied into being 'willing' there was nothing but suspicion of the lame logic coming out of Washington and Westminster and certainly no-one forgot that resolution 1441 had been achieved by very clear promises on behalf of the US and British governments that it DID NOT mean that action could be taken without further input from the council. I t was maybe naive of the other members to allow themselves to be persuaded by these promises but the world population was well aware that skulduggery had been used against world (majority) opinion when it was claimed that resolution 1441 legally protected the alliances actions.It's probably more difficult for Britons to see how obvious was the whole scenario from outside ... even now many seem to think that, ok, a big mistake was made but an honest mistake and really France were the most guilty for stabbing the Anglo American alliance in the back in a fit of obvious pique. The truth is that most of the rest of the world were very nervous about making the sort of mistake that the alliance made and ending up with such a can of worms that the alliance eventually ended up with.
Any program that helps to leave a straight record for other generations to take fair warning from is welcome. ( though I can't see it - not my territory!)

  • 69.
  • At 12:37 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Collier wrote:

Brilliant series! Encapsulates the poor planning and legitimacy of going to war in the first place, particularly the scant regard to what was going to happen afterwards. As dramas go this is timely and well written, although as with any programme of this nature there is bias on the part of the writer. Nevertheless, very interesting and informative. Are there any plans to merge the programmes and make them available for download or purchase?

  • 70.
  • At 09:23 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • sue spink wrote:

I applaud Peter Barron and his BBC production team for this outstanding series.

The speech given by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins was an excellent inclusion. I copied the text from a news report at the time, but to see it performed in context makes it even more memorable.

The character, leadership and integrity demonstrated by Tim Collins towards his Battalion in the desert, was in stark contrast to the manipulative and covert behaviour exhibited by authorities at home.

I await the non-abridged full length version of this period in our history, which I can retain for posterity and of course, discussion.

  • 71.
  • At 11:11 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • sara wrote:

This series was excellent.
It's amazing to look back and see what really unfolded in the countdown to war 5 years ago.
I was at the anti war protest in London and remember feeling so downhearted that it had made no difference.
These vignettes show that actually public feeling when voiced DOES influence politics, and even though obv there was a war, to see how many people objected to it gives me hope.
Also I can't believe how much dignity there was in the speech by Colonel Tim Collins at the end. It made me so sad.
Well done BBC. Very refreshing and well done, although on a tragic event.

  • 72.
  • At 05:15 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Jon Thorne wrote:

It seems remarkable that the BBC is able to act in such an unprofessional manner in releasing this 'News Article'.

That the BBC has its own motives for launching this series would be far easier to deny if it weren't for the manner in which this subject is being debated. Reconstructions, whoever makes them, are always affected by a bias. The slant of the director, whose artistic liscence will always play a part; the target audience (chosen by the makers of the film) will affect the projection of issues raised; and the subject characters themselves cannot be relied on to know the whole truth. Ignoring the fact that many of those portrayed in the series have denied any association with their purported comments, any 'evidence' used from each individual will be affected by the very fact that their view is 'individual'. At best the view of one involved party, ergo a biased view. At worst subjects, and their comments, can be chosen to meet an agenda.

All this is very dangerous on it's own for a News production, but coupled with the image created by its association with Newsnight, there is a great risk that what is simply OPINION may be interpreted as FACT.

Most damning are the BBC's own Editorial Guidelines on reconstructions:

News programmes should not generally stage reconstructions of current events because of the risk of confusing the audience. But reconstructions staged by others may be reported in the usual way.

I do hope that those involved in the production of this programme do not insist that Fox News is the only broadcasting corporation to have an agenda...

  • 73.
  • At 04:57 PM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Allen Conway wrote:

Excellent, really excellent. I don't know how much of it is true but it's certainly dramatic in at least 10 different ways. And there's nothing trivial about it. Each episode is thought provoking. The direction and the acting was 1st class. These programmes really epitomise what is so very good about the BBC. If there are prizes to be won I hope you win them.

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