Narrated by Campbell Scott. Unrated. Plays Friday to Thursday (September 7 to 13), except Wednesday, September 12, at the Vancity
There are several wars on display in No End in Sight, a documentary about the history of the U.S.'s disastrous adventure in Iraq. The first is a war on reason, in which a cadre of neoconservatives, most with zero military experience, "stovepiped" phony intelligence into the White House to convince themselves, and then the American people, that secular despot Saddam Hussein–with his coincidental oil reserves–was somehow behind the fundamentalist nut jobs who attacked the United States the September 11 of George W. Bush's first year in office.
The next is an actual war, with shelling, strafing, and a massive, uncounted civilian death toll. But the movie barely touches those subjects; it is really about the third conflict: the war against professionalism. This has turned out to be the only all-out success of the Bush-Cheney era.
A first film by Charles Ferguson, a technocrat who made a fortune in software development during the late-'90s boom, No End is composed–along with news footage either suppressed or already dissected by Jon Stewart–of interviews with soldiers, diplomats, and experts, many of whom remain loyal Republicans.
The material, woven together by terse narration from Campbell Scott, contains nothing unfamiliar to regular readers of political blogs by centre-leftists like Juan Cole, Josh Marshall, and Kevin Drum, but its cohesion will satisfy the most dedicated antiwar critic. However, what really sets this record apart is the quiet, cumulative dismay of high-rankers like 2003 Iraq strategic chief Col. Paul Hughes, early civilian administrator of Iraq Jay Garner, former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, and U.S. ambassador Barbara Bodine, coordinator for post-conflict reconstruction in Baghdad in 2003.
They are no saints, but their complicity only heightens the effect of hearing their shock and "aw, shit" reactions to the steady supply of operational blunders imposed on them by grinning jackanape Donald "Stuff Happens" Rumsfeld, Paul "Cakewalk" Wolfowitz, and especially Paul "Cowboy Boots" Bremer, the pro consul in 2003–04 who, in the face of massive looting and an incipient insurgency, disbanded the army and purged everyone with government experience, thereby creating two huge pools of angry, unemployed, and armed men.
The smoothly assembled, essentially nonideological doc touches on the moral and political consequences of these aforementioned wars, but it doesn't address the hidden war on the U.S. economy. Before I started the first draft of this review, the spending clock at www.costofwar.com/ told me that roughly 477,134,982,000 U.S. dollars had been spent on this debacle since March 2003. An hour later, that number had increased by more than $12 million. Americans should do the math soon–before accounting is made a crime.