A well put together documentary about the "war on terror." Crisp, well edited and a lot of great interviews from high level people involved in the Iraq debacle. Would have liked them to get Rumsfeld or some other the other high-ups that have since left, but to no avail.
Timothy P. Scanlon | Hyattsville, MDUSA | 08/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just saw this gem at an indy theatre. Films of the subject of Iraq keep getting more powerful.
To be honest, I was thinking of giving it only 4 stars for the reason I've considered that for some other documentaries: they tend to lose track of the fallacies by which we entered Iraq by getting embedded in the discussion of how it should have been better planned. But I'm thinking now that those initial issues have been addressed before, now it's time to move onto something else and this work of art does so.
This is an important documentary because those doing the speaking are mid-level bureaucrats with the federal government. So you're getting the story "straight from the horse's mouth" (or mouths).
The film begins with the history of the Iraq situation. That's covered succintly, leaving nothing out. Then there's one boondoggle after the other; Rumsfeld talking with the press, saying that they keep covering the negative, while the camera and narrative switch to what's really going on, troops dead, Paul Bremer doing some more ridiculous things, more insurgents doing all the more damage.
The troops haven't been protected with adequate armor, there aren't enough of them to cover the arsenals of weapons from which the insurgents--many of whom are fired Bathist intelligentsia and Iraqi military--are getting their weapons. The list goes on and on and on.
The film is very well crafted, in that things keep getting worse. And the reason they keep getting worse is that adminstrations' blunders--which themselves keep getting worse!
There is much discussion of Bushy insiders--almost none of whom have ANY experience in the middle east, and who have NO military experience--who made decisions as if the military didn't exist. Yes, the filmmakers talked with many military figures too, including colonels and generals (some of whom said that, if they'd have been listened to, they'd have insisted that the decision makers heed their calls).
At a rare amusing point, those interviewed refer to the "pretty boys," i.e., the recent college graduates who've been given major positions in the Iraqi govenment with no applicable experience. In one instance, a Georgetown professor refers to one of his recent students whom he ran into in Baghdad. He asked her what she's doing there and she said, she can't believe her luck. She's responsible for setting up traffic control in Baghdad. The professor asked her if she has any experience or training in urban planning or anything remotely applicable to the position, and she answered in the negative--this while there are scenes of Baghdad traffic problems enough to make you laugh. (The commentor said simply that, "Daddy made a campaign contribution, so sonny (or daughter) gets a major job in Iraq."
Where does the number in my "title" come from? By the end of the film, they add up all the "war" has cost us, what it will cost for recovery of troops, etc., etc., etc. What it's cost us so far is that number, approaching two trillion dollars.
Then you wait to see this incredible film, think of that amount increasing daily.
Get everyone you can to see this fine film. They may be chuckling in some places, sobbing in others. But that's the price one pays for a fine, fine documentary. "
A President Totally Disengaged with NO END IN SIGHT
KerrLines | Baltimore,MD | 08/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Put simply, what frightens the dickens out of me in this masterfully done Charles Ferguson documentary is that,all the time our American troops are dying needlessly in Iraq (and elsewhere for that matter) we have a Commander in Chief who is truly and totally disengaged! NOW THAT IS FRIGHTENING.This is very reminiscent of other regimes such as Marie Antoinette and Louis spending money and rousting about Versailles while France starves and the uprising begins!
Ferguson's case is airtight, and I doubt that even Bush himself could wriggle out of this scorching indictment of his administration's failed handling of the Iraq Mess.Ferguson's case is expertly laid out and pretty compelling: the Bush people have made errors in judgment peppered liberally with stubbornness,arrogance with complete disregard for the a majority of American anti-sentiment with the Iraq War.Ferguson builds his case by using the testimony of bureaucrats who served and saw the continued unfolding of the horror we know as the Iraq War.
Will your blood boil? Probably yes, but only if you have finally been convinced that we are ruled by a truly disengaged man.If this light bulb goes on, take a look in horror for the first time and act! Ferguson keeps things very low key, and Ferguson keeps it quite simple;that is the amazing part of this documentary!: Ferguson does not inflame the viewer-the viewer will simply get inflamed!
This is beautiful and compelling documentary filmmaking of the highest degree. Truly a must-see!
I saw this at a private screening with a Q & A after.Fortunately, many in the audience had voted for George W. Bush and supported his policies, but had grown weary and suspicious of his administration.THAT WAS ENCOURAGING.If you love our current President and his handling,or non handling of this War, I challenge you to see this film and decide for yourself.Even the most closed-minded jury must be swayed by an airtight case expertly prosecuted!"
Best iraq documentary?
Daniel B. Clendenin | www.journeywithjesus.net | 08/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You probably won't learn anything new about the Iraq war from this understated documentary, nor should you expect any sort of neutrality. But the catastrophic consequences of the war for our country and the whole world make its chronological review of the basic facts worthwhile, while the cinematic power of pictures as compared to reading books about Iraq puts a very human face on the war. Director Charles Ferguson's film is a searing indictment of the recklessness, gross incompetence, and political cynicism of the Bush administration. He interviews soldiers, diplomats, Bush appointees, state department officials, and Iraqis, all of whom tell their personal stories about working hard at a noble cause only to discover that the emperor and his minions had no clothes and no conscience. Their sense of betrayal is heartbreaking. The film makes it clear that the administration's incompetence and hubris doomed their naive plan from the start, and that five years later there is still "no end in sight." Director Charles Ferguson is not your run-of-the mill film maker; he earned a PhD from MIT, founded and then sold his company Vermeer Technologies to Microsoft in 1996, was for three years a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, and has been a visiting professor at both MIT and Berkeley."
Demonstrates The Utter Incompetence Of The Bush Administrati
Chris Luallen | Nashville, Tennessee | 09/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The most striking aspect of this documentary is that the people giving interviews are not your typical anti-war activists. To the contrary, they are people like Colonel Paul Hughes, a strategic planner for the Coalition Provisional Authority, and Barbara Bodine, ambassador in charge of Baghdad. They were the ones "on the ground" attempting to create a successful democracy in Iraq. But their efforts were stymied by arrogant and clueless higher ranking Bush officials such as Donald Rumsfield, Paul Wolfowitz and Paul Bremer.
The stories they tell of the Bush adminstration's extreme incompetence are mind boggling. For instance, how Bush officials chose to completely disband the Iraqi military. This left huge numbers of Iraqi men, with military experience and access to weapons, out on the street and with a strong desire to seek revenge against those who had taken away their jobs and livelihood. This problem was further compounded by the huge stashes of Iraqi military weapons that Bush officials foolishy left unguarded. Thus the Iraqi insurgents were able to achieve a level of weaponry and man power that to this day fuels the ongoing civil war. Part of the problem is that the military experts, like Colin Powell, were being ignored. While "chickenhawks" with no substantial military experience, such as Rumsfield, Wolfowitz and Cheney, were making all the decisions.
A strong argument can be made that the Iraq War was always doomed to turn into a Sunni versus Sh'ia civil war quagmire. But this movie isn't really aimed at those who opposed the war from the beginning. Instead it seems more directed at moderates and conservatives who initially supported the war but are beginning to question the results, especially those military families who have lost loved ones in what appears to be a hopeless cause.
It's hard for me to imagine that anyone - conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican - could come away from this film and not feel angry and disillusioned at how the Bush administration has conducted the war. Highly recommended!"
How do you define "quagmire"?
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 10/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While, as another reviewer has suggested, this latest documentary on Iraq does nothing to push forward the medium of documentary in its aesthetics or its style, it doesn't need to in order to achieve its aims: to present a clear picture of how the situation in Iraq went from difficult to nearly impossible in the few years following President Bush's declaration of victory. What makes the film refreshing is that it makes its case in a non-partisan way, since what we really need as a country is to come together and face our mistakes rather than point fingers of blame at each other for our failure to begin the difficult process of recovery from these mistakes. The film, while very critical of decisions made by the current administration, is not making a case against Republicans per se or against the military, and does not even take a stand on whether we should have gone into Iraq in the first place except to mention what is now obvious to most Americans, that the repeated rationale given for going into Iraq that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with al Qaeda was bogus.
What the film does present, in a clear and convincing manner, is a brief account of the devastating history of the war and occupation that emphasizes moments where administrative decisions were made in a top-down fashion that went directly against the advice of military and intelligence and other leadership on the ground in Iraq. The film shows that these decisions progressively turned an initially complex situation with at least a number of Iraqis who were supportive of the U.S. ouster of Saddam into a nearly impossible quagmire - the failure to protect infrastructure and property and cultural legacies against looting, the inability and unwillingness to protect citizens against violence, the removal from office without immediate replacements of civil servants who had previously worked under Saddam resulting in the loss of essential services, most crucially the total disbanding of the army and police resulting in massive unemployment of trained military personnel who had access to weapons that were not being adequately protected. It is no wonder that many of these became initially disgruntled and ultimately joined opposition forces. Numerous interviews with high ranking officials whose pleas for reason and common sense were ignored repeatedly by leadership in and appointed by the Bush administration make clear that even if the war in Iraq shouldn't have happened in the first place, it definitely didn't need to turn out as bad as it has.
The scariest part of the documentary is the way it depicts the administration's refusal to accept and report the obvious facts about an increasingly dangerous situation on the ground. In a telling scene, Donald Rumsfeld suggests to a group of reporters that reports of difficulties (such as looting and insurgency) are wildly exaggerated by the media, and that he even had to look up a few words in the dictionary to understand what the media was claiming, words like "insurgency," and, some one in the audience asked "quagmire"? No, Rumsfeld insisted, "I don't do quagmires." The evidence presented by the film strongly suggests otherwise. Rumsfeld and friends do quagmires quite effectively. By depicting the quagmire as clearly as it does, the film "No End in Sight" at least offers hope of an end to wildly inaccurate depictions and predictions of the current mess from which we and future generations will have to extricate ourselves."