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Film Review

No End in Sight

(August 23, 2007) No End in Sight, a two hour documentary about the disastrous aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, is arguably the most important film made in the past few years. It needs to be seen by every American. Painful and infuriating, it leaves you with a disbelief in the arrogance and incompetence that helped create the insurgency that is raging now in Iraq. It is essentially a compelling visual of the book Fiasco, which also detailed the many failures that led to the present catastrophe. There are riveting sequences of talking heads, mid level people who were heavily involved in the reconstruction effort, who were appalled at the bad decisions and attempted to warn of the consequences. And one who made some of the decisions, still denying the consequences of his decisions. These are interspersed with footage of nearly 4 years, beginning from the invasion to late 2006. We see and hear the infamous public comments, such as the "bring 'em on", "you go to war with what you have, not what you want to have", "I don't do quaqmires", and many others. Their contempt for any who questioned the process, much less the war, is palpable. Most of the facts are well known and documented, but to see them illustrated is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Paul Bremer's early decisions to fire anyone who was a member of the Ba'ath party, and to disband the Iraqi army, made the insurgency inevitable. Suddenly, 500,000 men with military experience and AK-47's were without pay and on the streets. We hear from educated Iraqi's, who chronicle their personal disasters, and that of their country, including the director of the National Museum, crying as he describes the looting of his museum and the destruction of his country's history. None of the Bush inner circle who planned and executed the war, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, or Feith, would consent to interviews for this film. And as described in Fiasco, Bush, the nominal commander in chief, seemed aloof and disinterested in overseeing the war. Questioning those decisions was seen as disloyal. The ignorance, arrogance, and hubris portrayed are breathtaking and appalling. To say nothing of the deaths, the maiming, the destruction, and the cost. The film doesn't use this word, but our country's actions have been criminally negligent, and in many cases, criminal.

The director and writer, Charles Ferguson, sold his software company, and used some of the proceeds to finance this film. Amazingly, this is his first film. The editing is masterful, fast paced, and maintains a tension throughout. No End in Sight is the opposite of a Michael Moore film, and is all the more powerful for that. The tone is understated, and not partisan. Most of those interviewed are sad about the missed opportunities and regretful that they were not more forceful in objecting to the constant string of bad decisions. They make the point that virtually none of those making the vital decisions had been to Iraq, none knew anything about the difficulty of establishing law and order post invasion, none had ever been in combat, and most had received deferments during Vietnam. None of the inner circle, and many of the Army's senior generals, seemed to have learned anything from Vietnam, or even from recent peace keeping efforts in Bosnia.

I urge you to see this film. Even if you have read the many books chronicling the aftermath of the invasion, such as Fiasco, The Assassin's Gate, or Blind into Baghdad, this film will be a revelation. And you will ask the same question as that Marine lieutenant, "Is this the best that America can do"?

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