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No End in Sight

(2007) *** 1/2 Unrated
102 min. Magnolia Pictures. Cast: James Bamford, Campbell Scott.
Charles Ferguson's documentary looks back at the Bush Administration's rush to war in Iraq, and the series of short-sighted, short-term decisions that resulted in insurgency and sectarian violence, with "no end in sight." Beginning with Donald Rumsfeld's valedictory statement to Bush "And I know with certainty that, over time, the contributions you've made will be recorded by history," Ferguson sets to illuminating the ironies of "this little-understood, unfamiliar war." The seething collection of talking heads includes Ambassador Barbara Bodine, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, senior adviser Walter Slocombe, Colonel Paul Hughes, and General Jay Garner. Ferguson recounts the American failure to protect the Iraqi national heritage from looting, and examines the conditions that led to rampant crime on all levels: murder and rape on the streets, and fraud, corruption, and waste from the interim government. The most damning testimony condemns L. Paul Bremer, Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for post-war Iraq, whose uninformed insistence on lightning-rod "de-Baathification" and the disbanding the Iraqi army (and, with it, the livelihood of 400,000 Iraqi men and their families) irreparably fanned the flames of insurgency. Ferguson may not break any news here, but his summary is usefully cogent.
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