Archive for July, 2014

“We don’t need
no protection.”

(Apartment sounds.)

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“Love is not just a verb,
it’s you lookin’ in the mirror”

(This live version was the jam back in the dorm days.)

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No End in Sight

While sitting at a table with two friends for breakfast recently, we got into a brief discussion of the chronology of the Iraq Conflict. One of the people at the table had penalized a speech competitor, at least in part, for swapping the invasion dates the US chose for Iraq in Afghanistan. My friends correctly identified that we’d invaded Afghanistan in October of 2001, and then our other companion asked: “So when exactly did we invade Iraq?”

I quickly answered, “2003”, and both friends fell silent. If they weren’t sure, they at least trusted me. And I, though happy to have seemingly chosen the correct time-line, wasn’t entirely sure I knew outside of the nebulous data-base that is my brain.

I was right, it turns out, but only correct in identifying a conflict which offered the US and Iraqi people little satisfaction. With all of the current discussion surrounding ISIS (and, yes, Gaza) reigniting limited American interest in our role in Middle-East peace, it’s important to consider the last decade of (in)action as it relates to the Iraqi people. No End In Sight attempts, with a calm and collected demeanor, to elucidate the glaring failures of the US government to properly invade, police, or maintain an occupation of Iraq. Unlike many of the documentaries I’ve watched recently on the subject of global conflict, whether stylish and journalistic like Dirty Wars or deeply personal like 5 Broken Cameras, this film is all big-picture data. It attempts to gain interviews with a majority of individuals involved in capturing and maintaining Iraq, whether as warriors or peace-keepers, and to investigate the ultimately malign shortcomings which hovered over the occupation and the George W. Bush administration.

This is a concise film, ribbed with intention and fury. It’s shot in fairly standard form, mostly talking heads and occasional footage from Iraqi protestors or civilians. There are even some moving maps and things and, given that the film is about seven years old, these small touches actually reveal it as more robust than many of its contemporaries. Mostly, this is a film that gives you the tools to understand how exactly the US went wrong in Iraq. I can still recall learning the basics on Bill Maher during the mid-2000s, mainly things like a lack of infrastructure, or the De-Baathing process. Here, though, I was shocked to find out how little of this process was overseen by Bush, how the soldiers were incorrectly prepared for combat, how few people commanding the Conflict were versed in any kind of Middle-Eastern culture or even spoke some kind of Arabic. UN intermediaries were wasted (and killed), the Green Zone was erected to keep us from engaging the people we were ruling over, and a lack of communication on the ground impeded us from stopping the wide-spread looting our own forces/process ultimately encouraged. I could go on, but the film does a far better job of simply reiterating the madness than I can.

This is precisely what I seek in good documentary filmmaking. An incendiary story and the follow-through to document the ways in the principal players acted. Likewise, it documents in broad strokes with evidence and thoughtful pacing. When I argue with people about policy and conflict I want/NEED to be able to cite more specific evidence. Since I don’t have anyone to teach me about the Iraq Conflict at this point, watching older films as a way of understanding the world I grew up in is absolutely vital. Much like this film, a much needed primer for those of us old enough to remember but too young to have ever fully understood.

(9.6 / 10)

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“I am the only one now.”

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WTF this is too good.

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Good at being bad.
In all the right ways. And so
bad at being good.

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Seven. Each of our
past lives is like a splinter.
Body of lumber.

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