CBC Newsworld aired Charles Ferguson's No End In Sight on Sunday night. No End In Sight was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards and it's about the American occupation of Iraq.
I finished it last night and it does an excellent job of taking everything you think you know and stitching it all together. The people interviewed are people with integrity, people without political bias who were part of the reconstruction effort. People like General Jay Garner, Richard Armitage, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson and Ambassador Barbara Bodine. It's overwhelming and compelling evidence that serious mistakes were made by the Bush administration in the two year period following the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The wiki page summarizes the gut wrenching role of L. Paul Bremer role in this text book example of arrogance and incompetence.
According to No End in Sight, there were three especially grave mistakes made by L. Paul Bremer, the head of the CPA:
- A move toward "De-Ba'athification" in the early stages of the occupation. Saddam Hussein's ruling Ba'th Party counted as its members a huge majority of Iraq's governmental employees, including educational officials and some teachers. By order of the CPA, these skilled and ultimately apolitical individuals were banned from holding any positions in Iraq's new government.
- Not providing enough troops to maintain order. The looting of Iraqi museums sent chilling signals to the average Iraqi, telling them that the American forces did not intend to maintain law and order. In addition, arms depots were available for pillaging by anyone who wanted weapons and explosives.
- The disbanding of the Iraqi Army, which made 500,000 young men with weapons and training unemployed and bitter. Many of them decided that their best chance for a future was to join or, together with the rest of their unit, become a militia force.
The film cites these three mistakes, as well as many others, as the cause of the rapid deterioration of occupied Iraq into chaos.
It would be easy to Dubya-bash at this point. He was the man in charge, the commander-in-chief, and he has to be accountable. In this instance, it's clear he deferred the responsibility for post-war Iraq to others, and he showed no interest in taking part of the process or even questioning the decisions of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, L. Paul Bremer or Paul Wolfowitz. He let others make one bad decision after another, without adequate planning or even talking to those in the know. Bush was a puppet and history will view him as such.
I actually don't know of anyone, other than those who defend George W. Bush's every decision for pure shock value, who believes the occupation of Iraq is going well. If you're unsure, or if you believe Dubya when he pronounces "In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed" in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner, I highly recommend this excellent documentary. As you'll see, there's no end in sight.