By now, the laundry list of things that have gone wrong in America's invasion and occupation of Iraq should be embedded in the minds of anyone who's paying attention. Disbanding the Iraqi army, allowing widespread looting, listening to the lies of megalomaniacal madmen (on both sides), failing to develop a post-invasion government, etc., etc., etc.
And by the same token, you'd be forgiven for being fatigued by the unrelenting incompetence of the Bush war machine, and especially fatigued by the redundant reiterations of that incompetence by ever-multiplying documentarians. Given the obviousness, ubiquitousness, and hopelessness of the situation, does the world really need another Iraq War documentary?
As it turns out, it may have only needed one. No End in Sight hardly unveils any information that hasn't been covered in countless documentaries, and feels largely like a solid primer on the invasion. But it is the first—in my memory—that has relied extensively, almost exclusively, on intelligence officials, military commanders, and former members of the Bush administration. Not long into the film, one gets the sense that these people are speaking to director Charles Ferguson as a way to atone for their participation in the bungled mess that has turned a nation into a sea of chaos.
Every interview is crushing, but none so much as during an extended segment about Paul Bremer's fatal decision to disband the Iraqi army. Colonel Paul Hughes, who was originally put in charge of rebuilding the Iraq army, is still aghast at Bremer's decision, which he argues turned tens of thousands of armed young men into tens of thousands of armed young men without a job and with a major grudge. Bremer's then-lackey, Walter Slocombe, can only stammer and backpedal, attempting to defend the decision.
Sadly, no one in the film offers a strategy for exiting the war or—what we really need—inventing a time machine.