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No End in Sight
a review by Tom Condon, OP

No End in Sight is a new documentary on the Iraq War.  It’s the first film written, directed, and produced by Charles Ferguson, who has a PhD in Political Science from MIT.  It’s a sobering, thought-provoking piece of work.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the film is that much of it is based on interviews with government insiders, including Ambassador Barbara Bodine, who was in charge of Baghdad immediately after the occupation, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Marine Lieutenant Seth Moulton, and many others.  None of these people seem to have axes to grind.  Rather, they are people who want to share their frustrating experience so that others can learn from the mistakes that were made.  It’s a film told, coolly and precisely, by those who were there, in positions of authority.  No End’s greateststrength lies in its cool and precise telling of the story of the American involvement in Iraq from 2003 to the present by those who were there, including journalists and observers, but primarily by those in positions of authority.  No End couldn’t be more different from a Michael Moore style documentary, with plenty of sarcastic humor and microphone-in-your-face journalism. Ferguson isn’t out to entertain an audience; he’s out to instruct.  No End is an insider account of what went wrong.    If you’re like me, and feel confused about what went so wrong in Iraq, you ought to see this movie.

Ferguson focuses on the weeks immediately after the downfall of Saddam in 2003 and the beginning of the American Occupation.  He documents the large-scale lawlessness and looting that occurred in these days and weeks.  American troops stood by helpless, given no permission to intervene.  Ferguson faults as the major mistake of the early months of occupation the disbanding of the Iraqi army of 500,000 men, against the advice of the American military.  These men, who could have been used to assist with the rebuilding of Iraq, were sent home with no income and no jobs.  Rather than use them as allies, many of them, with no income and recourse to feed their families, became criminals or insurgents.

Ferguson lays out his case that those with the most experience, those in key positions in the military, government, and diplomatic positions in Iraq, were consistently ignored when making policy decisions about the rebuilding.  Few attempts were made to understand the people and their culture; few who were sent sent to do diplomatic or government work in Iraq even spoke the language.  Decision after decision handed down from a small inner circle including Donald Rumsfield, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz resulted in the continual deterioration of the situation in the country and escalation of the violence and lawlessness.  How soon will this all end?  As the film’s title suggests, there is No End in Sight.

People who tell me they only go to movies to be entertained won’t be very interested in this documentary.  I doubt it will be in theaters long during this end-of-summer season.  But for those interested in learning from the mistakes of the past, I’d advise you to catch it while you can in theaters, or on DVD, where I hope it will reach a much wider audience.  Ferguson’s film is a fine work in service of the truth.  Dominicans, take note!     

Tom Condon, OP     


Ferguson’s film is a fine work in service of the truth.  Dominicans, take note!     

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