March 10, 2008

Endless and Bleak

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Charles Ferguson’s No End In Sight, a documentary chronicling the war in Iraq, ponders precisely where blame is due in the “quagmire” that has erupted since the United States invaded the country in 2003. Both an infuriating and necessary film, No End In Sight does not dwell on nor aim to understand the visceral — and imprudent — associations between Iraq, 9/11, and the general global threat of terrorism. A truly sobering and well-supported approach to the much-criticized war, No End in Sight seeks specifically to penetrate and understand the colossal failings of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz in the war in Iraq.

The film is particularly powerful because of the range of individuals chosen to be interviewed for the film — many of whom professionally supported the Bush administration in the early days of the war. Diplomat Barbara Bodine, Major General Paul Eaton of the U.S. Army and Lieutenant General Jay Garner, former head of the Organization and Recovery of Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq were among the analysts and policymakers first involved in the hasty and unprepared invasion of Iraq. These individuals also observed the miserable unfolding of L. Paul Bremer III’s foolish and destructive policies — which, the film posits, were horribly misconceived policies that would shape the chaos in Iraq — following the capturing of Baghdad. “De-Ba’thafication” and the disbandment of the Iraqi military number among Bremmer’s harmful and presumptuous actions upon first taking domestic control in Iraq.

What emerges from the diverse selection of personal testimony regarding involvement in the War in Iraq is an overwhelming sense of the arrogance, ineptitude and inexperience of the engineers of this costly and misguided war. Infantilizing the Iraqi people and dismissing their participation in the rebuilding process has created the discontent and chaos that looms in Baghdad today. Ferguson repetitively notes how nearly every head or director was egregiously unqualified; the average head did not speak Arabic, had no previous military experience, nor any experience with post-war nation recovery.

As the title connotes, No End in Sight details the insufferable reality of the war in Iraq. It is an essential and relevant documentary that conjures anger, shame, paralysis and hopelessness.