No End in Sight

No End in Sight is an award-winning American documentary from 2007 on the current war in Iraq. It provides a chilling portrayal of the Iraqi war and the incompetence and ignorance of the inner circle of the Bush administration. The main focus of the film is the two months before the invasion in March 2003, and the two-three months after. It views this period as the most critical with the looting of Baghdad, the insufficient number of American soldiers, the lack of planning the war itself and the decisions that would create the insurgency. It tells the story of a leadership bent on a quick fantasy war with virtually no real plans for the aftermath.

During World War II the United States started planning the occupation of Germany two years in advance, but the Bush administration didn't create the organisation that would manage the occupation of Iraq until 60 days before the invasion.

It shows a leadership who did not listen to and ignored its own wide range of military and political experts and appointed people with no knowledge of Iraq or the region, who did not speak any Arabic and who had almost no contact with neither Iraq nor the Iraqis themselves. Some barely visited Iraq.

In addition to the many mistakes it points out, the documentary literally highlights three "faithful policy decision" as very grave and important. All of them made by L. Paul Bremer, the "czar of Iraq", during his ten first days in work when still in Washington D.C.:

  1. Stopping the formation of an interim Iraqi government
  2. De-Ba'athification
  3. Disbanding the Iraqi Military

The documentary labels the last as the most severe:

Overnight Bremer rendered unemployed, and thereby infuriated, half a million armed men. Equivalent to firing over five million people in the United States. And so these men rather than helping to prevent an insurgency, in stead created one.

The documentary basically sums up of all the main controversies and criticism around the war. In that regard is does not really offer anything very new, and if you have followed the war you have probably heard most of it before. The interesting thing, however, is who you hear it from, and how it connects the dots. The people interviewed is a number of high-ranking officials, diplomats, experts, former soldiers and journalists; many who were deeply involved in planning both the war and the occupation itself. They are what the documentary trailer calls "the ultimate insiders".

The director of the film is Charles H. Ferguson, an originally supporter of the war with a Ph.D. in political science from MIT. This is his first film.

The documentary has recieved very good reviews since its release in January 2007. Time Magazine called it "without question" the most important film you could see in 2007. A very recent review in the Norwegian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique described it as one of those documentaries that might really influence public opinion (in the US) or even change history.

This is no Michael Moore documentary. This is a real documentary, and it is good, well-made and highly recommendable. To end with a quote from Roger Ebert's review:

No, I am distinctly not comparing anyone to Hitler, but I cannot help being reminded of the stories of him in his Berlin bunker, moving nonexistent troops on a map, and issuing orders to dead generals.

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