No End in Sight is a documentary film that focuses on the two-year period following the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The film asserts that serious mistakes made by the administration of President George W. Bush during that time were the cause of ensuing problems in Iraq, such as the rise of the insurgency, a lack of security and basic services for many Iraqis, sectarian violence and, at one point, the risk of complete civil war.
According to No End in Sight, there were three especially grave mistakes made by L. Paul Bremer, the head of the CPA:
- Not providing enough troops to maintain order, which led to the absence of martial law after the country was conquered. The ORHA had identified at least twenty crucial government buildings and cultural sites in Bagdad, but none of the locations were protected; only the oil ministry was guarded. With no police force or national army to maintain order, ministries and buildings were looted for their desks, tables, chairs, phones, and computers. Large machines and rebars from buildings were also looted. Among those pillaged were Iraqi museums, containing priceless artifacts from some of the earliest human civilizations, which No End in Sight suggested had sent chilling signals to the average Iraqi that the American forces did not intend to maintain law and order. Eventually, the widespread looting turned into an organized destruction of Baghdad. The destruction of libraries and records, in combination with the "De-Ba'athification", had ruined the bureaucracy that existed prior to the U.S. invasion. ORHA staff reported that they had to start from scratch to rebuild the government infrastructure. Rumsfeld initially dismissed the widespread looting as no worse than rioting in a major American city and archival footage of General Eric Shinseki stating his belief of the required troop numbers reveals the awareness of the lack of troops.
- Bremer's first official executive order implementing "De-Ba'athification" in the early stages of the occupation, as he considered members disloyal. Saddam Hussein's rulingBa'ath Party counted as its members a huge majority of Iraq's governmental employees, including educational officials and some teachers, as it was not possible to attain such positions unless one had membership. By order of the CPA, these skilled and often apolitical individuals were banned from holding any positions in Iraq's new government.
- Bremer's second official executive order disbanding all of Iraq's military entities, which went against the advice of the U.S. military and made 500,000 young men unemployed. The U.S. Army had wanted the Iraqi troops retained, as they knew the locals and could maintain order, but Bremer refused as he felt that they could be disloyal. However, many former Iraqi soldiers, many with extended families to support, then decided that their best chance for a future was to join a militia force. The huge arms depots were available for pillaging by anyone who wanted weapons and explosives, so the former Iraqi soldiers converged on the military stockpiles. The U.S. knew about the location of weapon caches, but said that it lacked the troops to secure them; ironically, these arms would later be used against the Americans and new Iraqi government forces.
The film cites these three mistakes as the primary causes of the rapid deterioration of occupied Iraq into chaos, as the collapse of the government bureaucracy and army resulted in a lack of authority and order. It was the Islamic fundamentalists that moved to fill this void, so their ranks swelled with many disillusioned Iraqi people.