I was watching the news the other day — MSNBC, CNN, it doesn’t matter — when I saw a video clip that was almost surreal. The Prez was jogging with two double amputees. Apparently, they were Iraq War veterans who had been outfitted with the latest in prosthetics, proving that they can run with the best of them. Now, while it’s great that technology in that area has progressed to the point that people can function regardless of disabilities, it’s distasteful as hell that Bush would use the jog as another photo op and a plug for his latest half-assed assurance that veterans will be afforded the very best in medical care. It caused me to flashback to the first of May 2003, when Bush, resplendent in fighter pilot gear, stood astride an aircraft carrier and proclaimed that the Coalition had emerged victorious in the Iraqi War.
Over four years later, over 4000 American soldiers have died in Iraq, and more than 20,000 have been wounded. Some estimates put the Iraqi civilian death toll at well over 600,000. Clearly, in the summer of 2003, the battle to secure Iraq was just beginning.
No End in Sight is a film that coldly details the crucial missteps by the Bush administration in the days following the fall of Baghdad. First-time director Charles Ferguson’s film cannot be described as a left wing diatribe — there are no Michael Moore-style bombastics here. Rather, this is a film that raises emotional temperature by virtue of its objective approach. Ferguson, a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, with a solid background in political science, steers away from obvious ideology, allowing the chronology of events to speak for themselves.
Putting those events into perspective are a number of administration officials, including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, General Jay Garner (who was initially in charge of the Iraqi occupation) and Ambassador Barbara Bodine, who was in charge of Baghdad in 2003. Many of the people interviewed were on the ground in Iraq, and those who weren’t, were directly involved in the planning stages of Iraqi reconstruction. The most impassioned of the interviewees is Col. Paul Hughes, former officer of strategic policy in Iraq. He pulls no punches as he recounts how his efforts, and those of other advisors, were trivialized, and in many cases outright ignored, by administration officials at home.