The documentary “No End in Sight” traces the initial missteps in the postwar handling of Iraq that has led to the ongoing problems for America. The documentary interviews the individuals who were involved in the early phases of the postwar occupation, military leaders, journalists, Iraqis and even American soldiers. Much of the film involves interviews from these key individuals and retracing the decisions that ruined post-Saddam Iraq.
In the film, we learn that the Bush Administration only created an agency to oversee the Iraqi Occupation only 90 days before they officially attacked the country. Worse of all much of the initial staff for the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) was a skeleton crew with limited access to computers, databases, and experience to manage such a gargantuan task. Additionally, all of the recommendations written by ORHA and the American State Department were largely ignored by the Bush Administration.
The major criticism over Iraq comes from the military, especially from former military leaders who served in Iraq. Many were especially critical of the lack of due diligence made to the troop levels, equipment, and instructions handed down to the United States Army. For example, Rumsfeld did not allow his military commanders to declare martial law to secure Iraq once they had officially ousted Saddam Hussein from power, which allowed the locals to mindlessly loot and destroy every major institution and key infrastructure in the country. Whatever initial support Iraqis had for Americans when they ousted Saddam from power was vapourised the moment the army allowed for mass looting and lawlessness to take root. It had also fuel suspicion among Iraqis that the Americans allowed this to happen as an excuse to prolong their presence in Iraq and that they were only after their oil since they had protected the country’s oil pipelines.
Many soldiers had complained about having the lack of tools to fight against the local resistance in Iraq. It reached the point where soldiers were actually rummaging in local junkyards for scrap metal to add armour to their cars, beg their parents to buy them body armour, and feeling overwhelmed due to the lack of overall troop strength. It was even worse when Bush decided to outsource their key security tasks to Private Military Contractors (PMC) who were unaccountable to no one and were allowed to shoot random Iraqis at will. Bush made another fatal mistake by refusing to hire any local Iraqi businesses for reconstruction in favour of corporate supporters, who were often more expensive and incompetent.
- A move toward “De-Ba’thification” 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 to be 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. And 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.
As a result of these fatal errors, an Iraqi insurgency rose almost overnight with the goal to kick the Americans out of Iraq with pro-Iran, fundamentalist elements taking power in a democratic Iraq. Now the so-called democratic Iraq is simply biding their time by playing nice until the Americans leave at Iran’s benefit and one should not be surprised if Iraq decides to implode into three weaker states that bring about more instability in the region.