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Absolutely ‘No End In Sight’ Whatsoever

By Staff | Feb 29, 2008

I have spent my entire adult life in the shadow of the Iraq War. I have seen the crashing steel of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Firdos Square, IED detonations splatter the news on a daily basis, and I have been witness to a mounting death toll that has risen to staggering proportions. I have spent my entire adult life as a witness to it.

For me, as I can guess with most Americans, our occupation in the once sovereign country of Iraq has happened so fast. Here we are in 2008, five years removed from when President Bush stood on the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared “Mission Accomplished,” still turning our wheels in a country devastated by casualties on both sides.

Those are the facts. The facts, muddled and distorted, have been presented in several different ways before – as I’m sure you are aware of. What Charles Ferguson aims to do in his strikingly honest and heartbreaking documentary, “No End In Sight,” is simply to recap the events that transpired during the events leading up to, during, and the aftermath of decisions made in the United States’ war with Iraq.

Ferguson, through a series of interviews with important officials and coupled with narration from Campbell Scott, delivers the war with a steady hand and objective, factual timelines. He takes us from the war’s inception all the way to the present day, weighing the Bush administration’s handling of one of the most controversial wars in history.

The documentary pinpoints crucial elements in the fundamental mistakes made by the Bush administration and opens the floodgates without breaking the dam. One of the main focuses of the film looks closely at the beginning of the war, during the first 2-3 months after the invasion, that have shaped an entire country.

Specifically Ferguson investigates the authority of ORHA (the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance). ORHA is the branch of the Department of Defense that is principally responsible with wartime reconstruction.

Now, before I travel too far into some incredible evidence the film unfurls, let it be know that Ferguson interviewed 35 people for this film and many of them were former Bush loyalists who had become disillusioned due to their experience with the war. Some of these include: Richard Armitage (former deputy secretary of the State Department), Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Colin Powell’s former chief of staff), General Jay Garner (ran ORHA before being replaced by L. Paul Bremer, Robert Hutchings (former chairman of the National Intelligence Council) and many many more.

“No End In Sight” explores the reconstruction of ORHA into the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) and the crushing gaffes made by Bush appointed L. Paul Bremer, who replaced Garner as head of the now CPA.

The film highlights three major mistakes made by Bremer when he was granted power. The first was the De-Ba’athification. Bremer terminated citizens registered with the Ba’ath party (the party Saddam Hussein was in). The grave error, according to Ferguson, was Bremer’s oversight as to the huge majority of Iraq’s governmental employees, including educational officials and teachers that lost their jobs and were forced to fend for their families without means of an income. The second error came when Bremer severely underestimated the amount of troops needed to maintain order and juxtaposing that fact with the fact that United States troops were not given the accessibility to maintain order, fueling unrest, looting and life-altering spikes in crime.

But Bremer’s third mistake might have been the one that destroyed Iraq from the inside out. Bremer, in the matter of a week, came to the decision to disband the entire Iraqi Army. A man with no military experience, who had never set foot on the desert ground of this country, gave the order to have more than 500,000 young men with weapons and training to go home. These men, bitter and unable to fend for their family, became the insurgency that we are still fighting to this day. With that one swift and uneducated move, Bremer officially unemployed 27 percent of Iraq’s workforce, and experts who were quoted in interviews estimated an unofficial 40-50 percent. Unable to provide for their families, trapped in a ravaged country, unfortunately took their loss of pride and they took to the streets.

Seth Moulton, a former Marine infantry officer from March to September 2003 and from July 2004 to October 2005, explained the implications of such a layoff. He and the film explained there were 70 armory depots in the area with not enough men to cover them, and the 500,000 former Iraq Army officers who knew exactly where they were. IEDs became an instant issue and strategic fighting for Baghdad was now in raging.

“No End in Sight”, Charles Ferguson’s first major film, is a film that ever American should watch. Never editorializing and giving the interviewees full range to professional opinions, this film is one of a select few that rises above the filth and mud racking done in Washington, letting the facts speak for themselves. As for me, the facts are straight. I’d like to know a country without war, but unfortunately I see no end in sight.

Contact Ben at bspanner@graffitiwv.com