The disadvantage to watching the Iraq war play out on cable or the evening news is that this tragic narrative is delivered in small segments. We have, over the past four plus years, watched mere fragments of events as they unfolded, heard brief analyses of the policy du jour, and heard an ever morphing war rationale defended, buttressed with such phrases as "Stuff happens" from the former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.




We watched as the President landed on an aircraft carrier, decked out in a Top Gun flight suit, and listened as he declared victory, then observed the post-invasion turn into a quagmire, despite Rumsfeld insisting that he didn't do quagmires.




What is missing from the daily Iraq litany is a comprehensive overview which attempts to answer a fundamental question: How and why could this all have ended so badly? Why was this war so disastrously mismanaged to snatch defeat from the jaws of success, losing in the process the good faith of the Iraqi people, who initially greeted our troops with signs, saying, "Thank You!"?




Charles Ferguson's "No End in Sight" attempts to answer those questions, proving that a few well chosen words can be worth a 1,000 images. Using a series of interviews of diplomats and military personnel who were there post-invasion, he builds a chilling case that there was a startling lack of preparation on the part of the White House &

a level of negligence that bordered on criminal. The best that Rumsfeld could say when Iraq's ministries, museums, and amo depots were looted, when lawlessness ruled, in effect destroying the countries civilian and governmental infrastructure was, "War is untidy." An aphorism so specious and shallow as to defy explanation.




What Ferguson does not do is rely on cinema verite' wherein the sheer magnitude of the carnage of this war is put on display; rather, his interest lies with causation. How could the White House have failed to plan for the aftermath of the invasion? How could they not have studied all the contingencies, the complex culture, and considered the possibility that the center would not hold? We see to what degree hubris and arrogance, compounded by an almost cavalier attitude seemed to rule these policy makers &

Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and L. Paul Bremer IIII &

who ramped up the war then ignored the consequences for weeks and then months after Baghdad fell.




"No End in Sight" does exactly what any fine documentary should do &

it informs. It's also unsettling, revelatory, and effective. This is not a left-wing rant, but responsible filmmaking leading to conclusions that cannot be avoided: the American people were poorly served at a critical time in history.