No End in Sight is a coolheaded and devastating exposé of the Bush administration’s bungling of the Iraq war — a definitive anatomy of disaster, directed by Charles Ferguson with a thirst for history that transcends ideology. The movie, with its sober platoon of former Bush officials (Richard Armitage, Gen. Jay Garner, the eloquently incredulous Col. Paul Hughes) detailing the way that their advice was trivialized and ignored, inspires outrage, yet it’s so removed from any drum-beating left-wing righteousness that I’ve been curious to see if a conservative pundit would be shameless enough to use it in defense of the war. Ferguson makes clear that the Saddam/al-Qaeda ”connection” was fabricated, but the challenge of No End in Sight is that it says the war could have been won.
Ferguson spotlights two massive mistakes: the looting that was allowed to continue, destroying Iraqi infrastructure and morale; and—far more revelatory — the apocalyptically stupid decision to disband the Iraqi army, sending half a million angry soldiers into the streets. More than anything, it was that decision that created the insurgency. It’s tempting to imagine an Iraq in which the mistakes weren’t made, but then, Ferguson shows you why they were made. He captures how the men who planned and executed the war — principally Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — reacted to their own lack of military experience by defensively cutting military strategists out of the equation. They turned Iraq into the ultimate high-stakes game of toy soldiers. No End in Sight leaves you furious at an administration of armchair warriors, yet it offers the catharsis of cold, hard truth. A