Despite the bleak forward-looking title, No End in Sight casts our eyes back to the beginning of the Iraq occupation to lay down a jaw-dropping anatomy of a catastrophe that never needed to happen. Adopting a plain talking-heads-and-voiceover style for the generally lucid history, director Charles Ferguson fixes on policy decisions rather than hurling partisan brickbats, weaving geopolitical webs, or essentializing America. No End in Sight brings us closer than most accounts to cracking the perpetually confounding riddle of incompetence and ideology that characterize the administration’s mismanagement of the war.
The doc’s purview is primarily limited to 2003, the year of invading recklessly. Remember the early days of the war, when you kinda assumed that someone, somewhere, was thinking beyond the first bunker-busters and photogenically toppled statues? Turns out: not so much. No End in Sight presents convincing evidence and measured testimony of crucial “planning” started barely 60 days before the first shot, politically blinkered appointees, and so on.
You may know the drill, and in fact the great virtue of No End in Sight is caution, sticking to a set of eminently supportable descriptions of events and repercussions, bolstered by enough responsible do-gooders that you don’t give up all hope. In a mediasphere systematically deoxygenated by stonewalling, Ferguson diagnoses that the way to respond is by clarity and repetition.
No End in Sight is not a slam-dunk: for one thing, the insurgency remains an unsatisfyingly nebulous part of the equation, and Ferguson tends toward a “conservation of mass” style of analysis. But it starts in on the combination of fact-checking and reality-check that is sorely needed.