thumbnail of Paul Hughes, interviewed for No End in Sight
No End in Sight: The American Occupation of Iraq is a new film by Charles Ferguson. It won the 2007 Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for a documentary.
I was lucky enough to view it last night, in a showing attended by Ferguson, noted “democracy” scholar Larry Diamond of the conservative Hoover Institute, Pulitzer Prize winning historian and professor David M. Kennedy, active duty and Iraq veteran Lt. Col. Christopher Gibson.
The film is great documentary history. It incorporates battle footage, explosions, handicapped veterans, and, most notably, interviews with several key people who were unwilling participants in the transition from apparent “victory” to what has been called the greatest disaster in the history of American foreign policy.
Ferguson’s great accomplishment was getting these people to talk. As the magnitude of the disaster in Iraq becomes clear, we seem to be entering a period of confessionals and finger-pointing. George Tenet’s controversial book comes to mind. But the interviewees in “No End…” are not lapdogs of the American administration. Rather they are credible and qualified people who viewed with horror, and not with silence, the mistakes of the transition. Jay Garner is a particularly effective witness to the follies that ensued when he was replaced. Other military officers and diplomats also provide evidence of the disasterous decisions to disband the army and remove all Baathists from their jobs. Those who objected to US policies generally lost their positions, and, in one case, his life, for their trouble.
This is a powerful indictment of the Bush administration, and of Bush himself, who, according to Paul Hughes*, couldn’t be bothered to read even single page executive summaries of the impending disaster (There was an audible gasp from the audience at this point in the film). It is almost unthinkable that Bush is still in charge.
See it if you get a chance.
*Paul Hughes: From January to August 2003, Hughes served as the chief of the Special Initiatives Office for the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance and as the director of the Strategic Policy Office for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq…