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Frontline: Endgame
Frontline Endgame
Director: Michael Kirk
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 0min


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Movie Details

Director: Michael Kirk
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 07/17/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Victory Will Take A Little Longer
!Edwin C. Pauzer | New York City | 07/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In the spring of 2003, General Tommy Franks sends out a warning order to his units: "Prepare to leave Iraq." Only one division is slated to stay. Franks, McKiernan, and Wallace, planners of the invasion, retire shortly thereafter. Donald Rumsfeld who has shown a great deal of interest in waging war against Iraq shows very little interest in occupying it. This is where the end game begins.

Ricardo Sanchez, a junior lieutenant general, takes over command of our forces at the time of a developing insurgency, and this former tank commander has no idea how to fight against one. His request for more troops is ignored while the administration puts its spin on the insurgents as a few "dead-enders." Rumsfeld replaces Sanchez with William Casey, a full general whom no one has heard of. Together, they decide on a new strategy called "the light footprint." It is an exit strategy without victory. Casey will keep all American forces on base with very limited patrols, and train Iraqi forces to take over. In the words of Bush, "as the Iraqis step up, we will stand down." Unfortunately, this strategy has problems. As author Thomas Ricks observes, this is being a war tourist rather than fighting a war. The Shi'ite Militia also decides to test the strategy. They go on a killing rampage. The number of civilian dead rises dramatically throughout Iraq. Four American mercenaries are also killed, burned, and their corpses are hung from a bridge. The administration, which claims non-interference with strategy in Iraq, demands action. General Casey orders an all-out assault on Fallujah.

As one retired lieutenant colonel explains, Fallujah becomes the Shia Alamo, with one difference. The defenders are not wiped out. The marines take substantial casualties and Al-Jazeera television captures the footage of the destruction to the city. Worse, on the verge of being annihliated, the administration doesn't like the bad press it is getting, and even they don't like the violence. They call a halt to the attack. Now, US forces look indecisive. The leader of the insurgency Maqtadr Al-Sadr cuts a deal. He will sell his weapons to General Casey for $1.2 million. The light footprint strategy is turning out to be a resounding military and diplomatic dud.

Meanwhile, there is always someone who can be counted on to go against the grain, and that one is a colonel who has been celebrated in a Tom Clancy novel, and who is probably marked for flag rank. His name is H.R. McMaster. He ignores the light footprint policy creating one of his own: "clear, hold, build." This gets the ear of the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, who sends one of her trusted envoys to investigate. McMaster has mastered the art of counterinsurgency, by winning over the local population, and defeating insurgents thoroughly. While defeating the insurgency was never our mission in Iraq, McMaster makes it his.

Next come the elections. Iraqis appear in droves showing, not giving the purple finger to the television camera, which signifies that they voted. Democracy appears to be working. Whole families stand in line. Citizens are donning their finest attire. But something else is "dawning" too and it's dawning on General Casey's staff. The Sunnis have boycotted the elections. Al-Qaeda increases the wedge between Shia and Sunni, and civil war threatens. By 2006, Iraq is on the verge of collapse, and civil war is also about to break out in the Bush administration.

Just as a squinting Donald Rumsfeld crushed the former secretary of state Colin Powell's diplomatic efforts with his "old Europe" remark, Rice is poised to return the favor based on what she has heard about in Iraq. She appears on talk shows repeating that our political and military strategy should be "clear, hold, build." Rumsfeld is livid and challenges the idea as crazy when the press asks him about it. The administration decides to stay with the light foot print policy, at least through the election of 2004.

In November, the republicans suffer their biggest defeat in decades, losing both houses of Congress. Bush has already decided to fire Donald Rumsfeld, but it's too late for the forty congressmen who were desperate to see him go prior to the elections. The administration also finally embraces the clear, hold, build policy of Colonel McMaster.

But, what worked in Tal Afor cannot work for the whole country. There are simply not enough troops to go around, and training Iraqi forces to stand up, hold, and build is years away. The focus of fighting the insurgency will be centered in Baghdad. Battalions of fresh troops will be assigned sections of the city. It will be called what the administration calls it--surge. While the surge works in Baghdad, it is needed throughout Iraq, and Bush and Company are unprepared to commit that many troops to cover the country.

Victory will take a little longer.

This DVD was on replay constantly. I did not want to miss a single word of this fascinating narrative. It was easy to follow the chronological events of the war, the thinking, the strategy, the lack of planning, the spin, and the decisions. It was riveting and masterfully narrated and edited.

This is not anti-Iraq nor anti-Bush policy. It's about there having been no policy.

The End(game)

P. S. It is 179 days and a wake-up until our particular surge comes to a grateful, permanent end.

Also Recommended:

Gordon, Michael R. and Trainor, Bernard E., Lieutenant General (Ret), "Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq," Pantheon Books, 2006

Ricks, Thomas E., "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq." The Penguin Press, 2006"
How the war was lost when it began
Timothy W. Gardner | Roseville, CA USA | 02/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This should be watched by anybody with any interest in our involvement in Iraq. As you watch the testimony of those involved directly with the war, many Bush administration appointees and career diplomats, you realize that this inept conduct of managing a war lost it in the first year. It is a very well done revelation of the anatomy of a war crime...the war itself."