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Goner Message Board / ???? / Movie of the Year - Seriously
Posted: Sep 2, 2007 10:36 pm
Every American citizen should see this film.

no rhetoric

Posted: Sep 2, 2007 10:41 pm
My friend was one of the editors on it.

Still haven't seen it. I am a bad friend.
Posted: Sep 2, 2007 11:53 pm
Hot Rod
Posted: Sep 3, 2007 12:01 am
Clearly you haven't seen "Who's Your Caddy?"
Posted: Sep 3, 2007 12:53 am
No End in Sight is great.
And very eye opening.
Posted: Sep 3, 2007 6:07 am
No End in Sight

August 10, 2007

Cast & Credits

With Campbell Scott (narrator), Barbara Bodine, Chris Allbritton, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Col. Paul Hughes, Walter Slocombe, Seth Moulton, David Yancey, Gen. Jay Garner, George Packer, Gerald Burke, Hugo Gonzalez, Samantha Power, James Fallows, Linda Bilmes, Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, Marc Garlasco, Matt Sherman, Nir Rosen, Paul Pillar, Ray Jennings, Richard Armitage, Robert Hutchings and Yaroslav Trofimov.

by Roger Ebert

Remember the scene in "A Clockwork Orange" where Alex has his eyes clamped open and is forced to watch a movie? I imagine a similar experience for the architects of our catastrophe in Iraq. I would like them to see "No End in Sight," the story of how we were led into that war, and more than 3,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of other lives were destroyed.

They might find the film of particular interest because they would know so many of the people appearing in it. This is not a documentary filled with anti-war activists or sitting ducks for Michael Moore. Most of the people in the film were important to the Bush administration. They had top government or military jobs, they had responsibility in Iraq or Washington, they implemented policy, they filed reports, they labored faithfully in service of U.S. foreign policy and then they left the government. Some jumped, some were pushed. They all feel disillusioned about the war and the way the White House refused to listen to them about it.

The subjects in this film now feel that American policy in Iraq was flawed from the start, that obvious measures were not taken, that sane advice was disregarded, that lies were told and believed, and that advice from people on the ground was overruled by a cabal of neo-con goofballs who seemed to form a wall around the president.

The president and his inner circle knew, just knew, for example, that Saddam had or would have weapons of mass destruction, that he was in league with al-Qaida and bin Laden, and that in some way, it was all hooked up with Sept. 11. Not all of the advice in the world could penetrate their obsession, and they fired the bearers of bad news.

It is significant, for example, that a Defense Intelligence Agency team received orders to find links between al-Qaida and Hussein. That there were none was ignored. Key adviser Paul Wolfowitz's immediate reaction to Sept. 11 was "war on Iraq." Anarchy in that land was all but assured when the Iraqi army was disbanded against urgent advice from our people in the field. That meant that a huge number of competent military men, most of them no lovers of Saddam, were rendered unemployed -- and still armed. How was this disastrous decision arrived at? People directly involved said it came as an order from administration officials who had never been to Iraq.

Did Bush know and agree? They had no indication. Perhaps not. A National Intelligence report commissioned in 2004 advised against the war. Bush, who apparently did not read it, dismissed it as guesswork -- a word that seems like an ideal description of his own policies.

Who is Charles Ferguson, director of this film? A one-time senior fellow of the Brookings Institute, software millionaire, originally a supporter of the war, visiting professor at MIT and Berkeley, he was trustworthy enough to inspire confidences from former top officials. They mostly felt that orders came from the precincts of Vice President Cheney, that Cheney's group disregarded advice from veteran American officials, and in at least one case, channeled a decision to avoid Bush's scrutiny. The president signed, but didn't read, and you can see the quizzical, betrayed looks in the eyes of the men and women in the film, who found that the more they knew about Iraq, the less they were heeded.

Although Bush and the war continue to sink in the polls, I know from some readers that they still support both. That is their right. And if they are so sure they are right, let more young men and women die or be maimed. I doubt if they will be willing to see this film, which further documents an administration playing its private war games. No, I am distinctly not comparing anyone to Hitler, but I cannot help being reminded of the stories of him in his Berlin bunker, moving nonexistent troops on a map, and issuing orders to dead generals.
Posted: Sep 3, 2007 6:11 am | Edited by: Rachelandthecity
In the Beginning: Focusing on the Iraq War Enablers
Published: July 27, 2007

So far, some of the best documentaries about the war in Iraq — "Gunner Palace," "The War Tapes" and "Iraq in Fragments," for example — have concentrated less on politics, policy or military strategy than on individual, in-the-moment experiences. As if to balance a climate of argument thick with generalization and position-taking, these films push debate aside in order to bring home the sensory details of daily life for American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

"No End in Sight," Charles Ferguson's exacting, enraging new film, may signal a shift in emphasis, a move away from the immediacy of cin้ma v้rit้ toward overt political argument and historical analysis. Not that these have been scarce over the past few years, as an ever- growing shelf of books can testify. Among Mr. Ferguson's interview subjects are the authors of some of those books — notably Nir Rosen ("In the Belly of the Green Bird"), James Fallows ("Blind Into Baghdad") and George Packer ("The Assassins' Gate") — and his film in effect offers a summary of some of their conclusions.

Mr. Ferguson, a former Brookings Institution scholar with a doctorate in political science, presents familiar material with impressive concision and impact, offering a clear, temperate and devastating account of high-level arrogance and incompetence.

If failure, as the saying goes, is an orphan, then "No End in Sight" can be thought of as a brief in a paternity suit, offering an emphatic, well- supported answer to a question that has already begun to be mooted on television talk shows and in journals of opinion: Who lost Iraq? On Mr. Ferguson's short list are Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and L. Paul Bremer III. None of them agreed to be interviewed for the film. Perhaps they will watch it.

The film's title evokes the apparent interminability of this war more than four years after President Bush declared that "major combat operations" were over, and it twice shows Mr. Rumsfeld telling journalists, "I don't do quagmires." But Mr. Ferguson's focus turns out to be fairly narrow. He does not dwell on the period between Sept. 11, 2001, and the beginning of the invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein, nor does he spend a lot of time chronicling the violence that has so far taken the lives of more than 3,000 American soldiers and marines and tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis. Instead, most of the movie deals with a period of a few months in the spring and summer of 2003, when a series of decisions were made that did much to determine the terrible course of subsequent events.

It is important to note that Mr. Ferguson's principal interlocutors were not, at the time, critics of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq but rather people who had, often at considerable professional cost and personal risk, committed themselves to fulfilling those policies. They include Barbara Bodine, a diplomat with long experience in the Middle East; Paul Eaton, an Army major general; Seth Moulton, a lieutenant in the Marine Corps; and Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who served as head of the Organization of Recovery and Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq.

That agency, set up to rebuild and stabilize Iraq after the invasion, soon gave way to the Coalition Provisional Authority, directed by Mr. Bremer, who took over in May 2003. Already, according to the eyewitnesses interviewed in "No End in Sight," terrible mistakes had been made. Looting and other early manifestations of disorder were more likely to be met with Rumsfeldian aphorisms — "Stuff happens"; freedom is "untidy" — than with appropriate tactical responses. And then, once the provisional authority assumed control, orders came down to purge the bureaucracy and the civil service of all members of the Baath Party and to dismantle the Iraqi military. As Mr. Eaton and Mr. Garner tell it, the last policy was especially disastrous and was arrived at and carried out precipitously and without discussion.

They, Ms. Bodine, and others — including Richard L. Armitage and Lawrence Wilkerson of the State Department — describe from the inside what has become, to the rest of us, a recognizable pattern. The knowledge and expertise of military, diplomatic and technical professionals was overridden by the ideological certainty of political loyalists. Republican Party operatives, including recent college graduates with little or no relevant experience, were put in charge of delicate and complicated administrative areas. Those who did not demonstrate lock-step fidelity to the White House line were ignored or pushed aside.
It might be argued that since Mr. Bremer, Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Wolfowitz declined to appear in the film, Mr. Ferguson was able to present only one side of the story. But the accumulated professional standing of the people he did interview, and their calm, detailed insistence on the facts, makes such an objection implausible. So too does the corroboration of the journalists who watched the story unfold and, perhaps most of all, the sense that anyone but the hardiest Bush loyalist will feel of having seen versions of this story before.

That feeling does not make "No End in Sight" dull or easy to watch. Quite the contrary. It's a sober, revelatory and absolutely vital film.

Posted: Sep 3, 2007 6:17 am
Basically, it is just a talking-heads documentary, interleaved with some routinely dismaying shots of deadly carnage in a far-away place. Moreover, what those heads are talking about is a failed political policy — not, on the face of it, the most riveting of cinematic subjects.

That said, prepare to be riveted: No End in Sight, Charles Ferguson's first film, is without question the most important movie you are likely to see this year. It is not a film that simply massages your pre-existing attitudes about the war in Iraq. Rather it is a work that tells you things you almost certainly did not know about that disaster or things that have been lost to sight as chaos, anarchy and our feelings of helplessness have grown over the years since the invasion of 2003. Specifically, what it says is that the war was lost by the "coalition" in its first month — when U.S. forces failed to protect the Iraqi museum and library, among 20 other invaluable cultural, social and political sites.

"Now we have no national heritage," a curator, standing in the ruins of his institution, says. This is bad enough, but the failure had dire and immediate political consequences as well. Televised images of the looters sent a message to the Iraqis that absent the imposition of martial law (which the U.S. had a right to declare under the Geneva Conventions) ordinary citizens had nowhere to turn for protection of their lives and property. Except to the Muslim militias. Here was a faith-based initiative with a new and deadly face. Meanwhile, back in Washington, Donald ("I don't do quagmires") Rumsfeld made his little jokes: who knew there were so many vases available for purloining in Iraq?

In Baghdad, our ambassador, Barbara Bodine, discovered that there were no chairs, desks or typewriters for ORHA (the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance) to work from and that her Arabic-speaking staffers were five in number. It is observed that the U.S. began planning for the occupation of Germany after World War II began two years before the fact. ORHA's planning time was less than 90 days. And its leader, retired army general Jay Garner, was essentially shut out of that process. He and ORHA were then shut out of Iraq less than a month after his arrival, replaced by Ambassador L. Paul Bremer and CPA (the Coalition Provisional Authority), which almost immediately made two huge and irreversible mistakes: the de-Ba'athification of the country's government (which meant that most of bureaucrats who knew how to manage the country were dispensed with) and the disbanding of the 500,000-man Iraqi army, which might have helped restore order, but which now became a vast pool of the angrily unemployed.

You think this sounds like pretty dry stuff? You're wrong. There were people in Washington and Baghdad who invested their lives in the effort to do this job right. They ranged in rank from Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to an earnest Marine lieutenant named Seth Moulton, and in their interviews with Ferguson, you can sense their still-seething contempt for their ideologue leaders and their refusal to come to grips with the practical realities of turning chaos into governance.

Understandably, not many of the Big neo-con thinkers chose to sit for Feguson's cameras, but one of them, a slippery, sneering and supercilious man named Walter Slocombe, a senior advisor to CPA, did. He was a reluctant warrior, whose visits to Iraq were few and brief. But he says he was in constant contact with Col. Paul Hughes, who was struggling to keep the Iraqi army intact. Hughes is a polite, low-keyed sort of guy, but when asked about his contacts with Slocombe he finally cracks. Mostly what they discussed, he says, was what kind of car he would have in Baghdad and who his cook would be.

No End in Sight does not directly answer the central question raised by the Iraq disaster: How did an obviously difficult undertaking so quickly deteriorate into an impossible one? But maybe it doesn't have to. In general, ideology makes imbeciles of everyone caught in its grip. Safe in their offices far, far away, the True Believers think they can summon spirits from the vasty deep, as Shakespeare put it, but that does not mean they will come — especially if the water and electricity (and the police force) fail to function. Or, to borrow a little less grandly from the Bard, "For want of a nail..."

It can be argued that this film is largely addressing mistakes and grievances that are now beyond redress. But that's not strictly true. The kinds of errors it examines are entirely duplicable. And it is important to have this grand compilation of serious, sometimes anguished, testimony to remind us that big talk is always cheap and essentially dreamy. Who knew that a bunch of medium shots of well-spoken, nicely dressed men and women could transcend mere journalism and bring us very close to the authentic tragedy lurking behind the Green Zone's concrete walls.
Posted: Sep 3, 2007 11:53 am
Posted: Sep 3, 2007 4:03 pm
FUNKY FOREST: FIRST CONTACT!!! This movie will melt your brain.
Posted: Sep 3, 2007 6:29 pm

I guess that wine got to me last night.

my superbad.
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