Friday, September 07, 2007

A Big Thumbs-Up for "No End In Sight"

Longtime readers of this blog (both of you) will hardly be surprised that I applauded "No End In Sight", Charles Ferguson's exceedingly watchable documentary about the bungling that led directly to the current mess in Iraq.

Conducted largely through interviews with people who were (or are) there, the movie doesn't stoop to the sensational, doesn't lampoon the Bush administration, and doesn't ascribe any malign motives to the folks in charge.

It's worse. It details what went wrong and how. If you buy the "Who knew?" line, the idea that the freefall into chaos came as a shocking surprise despite the best intentions and efforts of the Administration...well, you won't anymore after you hear from the people who told them in no uncertain terms it would happen, detailed the consequences, were brushed off, and how many of them were left to deal with the carnage when their expertise went unheeded.

It tells the story in phases, from the invasion and Rumsfeld's obsessive focus on keeping the troop levels low, the initial good relations with the Iraqis, the looting, the loss of basic services, and the advent of L. Paul and his disastrous three-fer that tipped the country into full chaos: Yanking the rug out from under any hopes that the Iraqis could have a voice in running the country, disbanding of the Iraqi Army (thereby dumping hundreds of thousands of men on the street who could have -- and offered to -- help keep order), and "de-Baathification", which gutted the public sector of the Iraqi economy.

There's plenty more. The waste and bungling by American contractors sucking at the reconstruction teat, for example. Or the lawless predators infesting the private security teams; one chilling sequence shows a contractor's own home movies. "The music", notes the caption, "is in the original footage." And you see the view out the back window of a moving vehicle, normal city street scene, other cars driving behind...and an assault rifle pokes into frame and just shoots the crap out of one. And again, on another street. And again. Or the rise of the Mahdi Army, fueled chiefly by despair, poverty, and get the idea. It's a solid case, laid out in terms neither simplistic nor abstruse, for what most Americans suspect: America made the mess, and now it is beyond our power to clean it up.

Just go see it. It's the least you can do for the people your country has turned into hunted, fearful paupers and refugees.

Or corpses.


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