Special Jury Prize Goes to <em>No End in Sight</em>


Charles Ferguson film.JPG
Congratulations to Charles Ferguson and Alex Gibney — whose extraordinary important new film, No End in Sight was among those recognized with a prize at the closing festivities of the Sundance Film Festival.
From the release:

The Documentary Jury presented a Special Jury Prize to NO END IN SIGHT, directed by Charles Ferguson, “in recognition of the film as timely work that clearly illuminates the misguided policy decisions that have led to the catastrophic quagmire of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.”

This film is important to see and folks who have seen it are raving about it. It includes important new footage of interviews with Jay Garner, Richard Armitage, Lawrence Wilkerson and others on how America stumbled and blundered into “a war of choice” that has cost the nation so much and destabilized forces that threaten to destabilize the global equilibrium for a long time.
As the production process for this film was underway, I had several discussions with Charles Ferguson and Alex Gibney who were hopeful to including former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson — who was very pleased to be included in the documentary. I was pleased to play a modest role as bridge to an important voice who saw a lot of the inside Bush administration action as we built up to the Iraq invasion.
But what impressed me with Ferguson was that he told me he would do whatever it took to bring this story to the American public.
Charles H. Ferguson is a broadband policy genius who also happened to make some money in the real world founding the internet firm Vermeer which was later sold to Microsoft for some big dollars. He hired top talent like Alex Gibney who is a prize-winning documentary producer and brought together an array of folks who have exposed the decision making that led us into this catastrophic mess. Ferguson has put his own wealth and prestige on the line to document important history for Americans — and this is a winner for him and the country.
More later.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “Special Jury Prize Goes to <em>No End in Sight</em>

  1. vicki says:

    The entire film is dedicated to the question of moral responsibility of the U.S. I applaud Charles Ferguson for doing so by simply sharing with us the TRUTH of what happened. Those interviewed were straightforward with the facts.
    The insight gained by seeing this film opened my eyes not only to the accountability of our government but to the dire straits of the Iraqi people. What we have done to them as a nation is unforgivable and I pray that those at the helm of this fiasco will be held accountable.
    I walked away in tears. Appalled.


  2. Ian Fried says:

    The movie directly addresses how the US did not protect the cultural heritage during the first few days after the US entered Baghdad — focusing most on the National Museum and how they were promised protection and did not receive it.
    I hope this helps.


  3. JB (not John Bolton) says:

    I will look forward to seeing the film.
    Can anyone who has seen it answer this question: how does the film deal – if at all – with the question of the moral responsibility that the U.S. bears for destroying the cultural heritage and infrastructure of Iraq?
    I ask only because this question is so rarely raised.


  4. Ian Fried says:

    I was at the Sundance Film Fest this week and actually saw No End In Sight. It is excellent — what it focuses on are the decision points in the few months before and up to about 6 months after the invasion. The subject is stabilization, reconstruction and the democratization of Iraq and how every critical decision undermined what were the stated public objectives. Decisions like — not starting reconstruction planning unil just 60 days before the election — Not allowing Iraqi MPs to take hold in Baghdad and then disbanding Security Services and the army. There are dozens more of these examples. The interviews are insightful and really broaden the story.
    The film only glosses over how we got into the war and the disinformation surrounding that action, but instead takes the events that we have all read about in those forst few months and draws them out so that we can see exactly how the war and occupation became a disaster.
    For anyone who thinks that this story doesn’t “need to be brought before the American Public” as Pissed Off American states in teh first entry — first I would say, of course, SEE THE FILM before judging it. This documentary is an important illustration that even if one believed we should have invaded Iraq, the Administration’s arrogance and incompetence has lead for it to become a complete disaster and not just a bad disaster. And to say there only one solution for the American people, is in itself arrogance.
    The wording of how America stumbled into “a War of Choice” is not the best description – It is more about how Rumsfeld and Cheney stumbled after entering this war of choice. It is in fact fascinating how little Bush himself figures into this narrative — how he had so little impact on the event that will define his presidency.
    The film is great and, Steve, I hope you and NAF have a screening here in DC with a Q&A after. I spoke with Ferguson after the screening and he said that he really didnt have a DC screening scheduled yet — so I hope that You are able to help this happen.


  5. bAkho says:

    A reasonable administration would write off the Iraq occupation as a failure and convene a conference of regional players to step in and act as guarantors for the Iraqi factions in order to stabilize the region. Absent a negotiated withdrawal, the US might have to fight its way out with a million or so refugees following in our wake.
    However, Bush will do nothing of the sort. Congress can cut off funds and compel withdrawal, but cannot force Bush to pursue a diplomatic course. The next two years will see Bush engage in a giant game of chicken with Congress.
    This is why I think Congress should attach a repeal of the Bush tax cuts to the Iraq Supplemental. Bush and his supporters need to be punished for not negotiating our way out.


  6. Dennis says:

    I agree with all of the above that there needs to be some accountability for falsly getting this nation into a Middle-East war. But,it’s not going to happen.
    Those who are responsible aren’t just going to get away with it, they’ve already gotton away with it and are only executing their next moves and planning more.
    This is in large part because we have a Congress that is not a Congress. It has has not behaved like a Congress nor, except for caving in to special business interests only, has it honored its oath and done the necesary work of protecting the liberties of the nation and of the American people.
    Rather, it is an elected body that, to use the latest buzz term, for the past six year has “cut and run” from the business of running the country and of protecing the internal and external rights of the American people from a group who want to control this nation by any means possible including, breaking the law.
    You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.


  7. bAkho says:

    BUSH DOES NOT WANT TO LEAVE IRAQ. Congress has very few options to force his hand. Leaving Iraq without fighting our way out means engaging the diplomatic forces in an effort to get out. Bush does not want to leave. Bush wants to stay. So Bush will block all movement in the direction of leaving. Bush will not engage in the diplomatic effort that will be needed to stabilize Iraq coupled to a US pullout. Pundits write over and over that Bush really wants to leave Iraq but just cannot because Iraq is not stable. They write this because they believe that the US needs to leave Iraq and cannot grasp that Bush disagrees with them and does not want to leave. People really do not understand that Bush has built permanent bases in Iraq and refuses to leave or start the process of leaving. We are at least stuck until Bush leaves office. All the GOP candidates except Brownback want to stick with the Bush plan of staying in Iraq. So even if we get rid of Bush, McCain would not leave either.
    “No end in sight” certainly is an appropriate title for our current mess.


  8. bob mcmanus says:

    Okay, heck I’ll play. For those wanting America to admit to an “illegal war of aggression” and we had war criminals at the top understand that you yourself do not get off the hook. You don’t get to say that McCain will be better or that institutional changes have been made. You are a repeat felon throwing pleading guilty and throwing himself on the mercy of the court.
    Russia and China and Brazil and Nigeria get to decide what happens to us. Not you, not us.
    With one aggressive war, why should the world trust us again? We must disarm. No Navy, no armor, break up and dismantle all our nukes. And our system of gov’t that gave us Bush/Cheney? That has to change. Goodbye Constitution. The UN Security Council will write the new one.
    Wait, you don’t want to go that far? Can the “war criminal” crowd guarantee that President Giuliani or Obama won’t attack Iran? Can you honestly say “just trust us?” We have learned our lesson?
    So mistakes were made. Stumbles and blunders. We need some institutional changes so that…misguided…VP’s can’t set up their private foreign policy fiefdoms. That’ll do it.
    Leave it to the professionals, like Bremer, Armitage, Wilkerson. They have done so well.
    And yes there will be more wars.


  9. bob mcmanus says:

    Steve, you and Daalder or whoever are the only professionals we know.
    If it is at all possible to explain why no professional of official can call it “an illegal war of aggression”, not only mere career considerations, but actual international. diplomatic and legal consequences to fessin up..aw heck.
    Okay, all those armor divisions were really supposed to go to San Diego but the Captain read his sextant wrong. Stuff happens.


  10. Kate says:

    Oops, I flubbed the URL on that Nation article by Sanford Levinson. It should be:


  11. Kate says:

    I agree with POA. We must have accountability, both executive and legislative. In The Nation ( see http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070212/levinson), Sanford Levinson suggests that we need a “serious national conversation”, instead of impeachment, to deal with the administration’s perfidies. Well, short of amending the Constitution or convening a constitutional convention for a do-over, impeachment is THE mechanism that provides for that serious national conversation, so let’s use it.
    Otherwise, as POA so correctly suggests, there will be no accountability and thus nothing to give future administrations pause before they once again send us to Hell in lightly armored Humvees. But we also must demand greater accountability from our legislators who have for decades been all too willing to let presidents march us off to war behind the most threadbare of bloody shirts.
    Enough! Unless, that is, we wish to continue the insanity.


  12. bob mcmanus says:

    “how America stumbled and blundered into ‘a war of choice'”
    Say what? I don’t like it already. It was only sorta kinda a ‘war of choice’ , an inverted comma war.
    Jat Garner:Not my fault
    Richard Armitage:Not my fault
    Lawrence Wilkerson:Not my fault
    Chorus of pundits and professionals:”MISTAKES WERE MADE”


  13. Pissed Off American says:

    Steve, I am not so sure this story needs to be brought before the American public. It is my belief that most Americans KNOW they were lied to and manipulated in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. The real story here is the inaction of our elected representatives, and their abject refusal to pursue accountability. THAT is the story that needs to be brought to the attention of Americans. I fear Americans are still taken in by the purely ridiculous impression that these incoming personages, such as Edwards or Clinton, are incapable or unwilling to launch policies based on the same kinds of lies and deceptions.
    The ONLY WAY that the American public, and the world community, can once again trust American tenets, motives, and policies is by holding these criminals in the Bush Administration accountable for the lies and deceptions THAT WE ALL KNOW THEY ENGAGED IN. Absent any extraction of accountability, our credibility, and our moral standing in the world community, is destroyed. Our elected representaives have a moral and legal obligation to uphold both the laws and the tenets of our nation, and not only are they FAILING to do so, they are not even ATTEMPTING to do so, with rare exception.
    And in exacting accountability, we would be sending a message to future leaders that our nation will not, and cannot, allow such abuses of power that we have seen from this, (and prior), administrations. Bush and Cheney are getting a free pass for crimes of unfathomable dimension, crimes that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, and unimaginable costs to our treasury, to say nothing of the costs to our world standing. Why, after seeing Bush and Cheney skate on such abuses, should we not expect subsequent Administrations to engage in such egregious acts of corruption and criminality?
    Absent the extraction of accountability for this Administration’s crimes, everything we once stood for is proven to be a great lie, a contrived charade. And the whole world sees it.


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