*No End in Sight (NR)
Kimball's Twin Peak
Yes, No End in Sight: The American Occupation of Iraq is another one of those movies. The kind you really should see, even though it will depress you for a few days before you ultimately decide that you're glad you set aside the not-quite-two hours to watch.
The documentary is directed and produced by Charles Ferguson, a political science Ph.D. and former White House consultant-turned-techie. (His company, Vermeer Technologies, created FrontPage.) In this, his first foray into film, it's clear that Ferguson's no Michael Moore, and that No End in Sight is no Michael Moore flick. Funky graphics and cartoon fury are left behind for historical analysis and research. It's an odd moment when laughter comes, and when it does, it's through the kind of low-throated chuckle that leaves you sick to your stomach and shaking your head.
And yet, what Ferguson's film may lack in Moore's humor and buzz, it makes up for in cast. The lineup of players for the documentary reads like a Who's Who in the Bush administration from the early 2000s. There are such "formers" as Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; Ambassador Barbara Bodine, who was in charge of the city of Baghdad by the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance; Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell; and Gen. Jay Garner, the man in charge of the occupation of Iraq through May 2003.
Add to these a whole host of journalists, authors, analysts, professors and on-the-ground military personnel, and it's easy to see this isn't your average Iraq war film. Expert testimony takes the main stage in presenting a solid look at how the Bush administration made principal errors in policy, errors that left Iraq in the chaos it is today. Lack of planning, letting looting take over Baghdad, and disbanding the Iraqi military leaving thousands without jobs (but still with their weapons) are just three.
Whether or not you agree with going to war, the real shame that comes from this film is learning that it could have been done so much better. Thousands of Iraqi citizens and U.S. military troops have died. But for what? If you somehow gave no thought to the current administration's arrogance and ineptitude before you saw this film, you'll certainly see it shining in a spotlight after.
So, now what? What can the average American do? It's the question that arises after any documentary of such persuasion. And, like most other documentaries of its sort, answers really aren't given.
It's left up to the viewer to take what he or she has learned and to talk like No End in Sight's cast of characters a group that certainly has little, if nothing, to gain from their involvement talked.