Just in time for the 4,000th American death in Iraq, “Frontline” will air the first installment of an amazing two-part documentary called “Bush’s War” tonight. I was lucky enough to get a press preview of the four-hour (!) show, and it’s nothing short of a masterpiece. It spans from 9/11 to the twin downfalls of Donald H. Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein, with a brief coda on the surge.
There’s so much that’s great about “Bush’s War,” not least of which is its penetrating interviews with key figures like Richard L. Armitage and Gen. Daniel McKivergan, and, of course, there’s a vividness that print just can’t provide. But perhaps the most valuable aspect is something superficially banal: to see the insanity and malevolence of the 2002- and 2003-vintage arguments for the war unfold once again. It feels like waking up out of a coma, or, perhaps, coming down from a drug. The juvenile peevishness of Rumsfeld, the defiant ignorance of Vice President Dick Cheney, the soul-sucking vacuity of George W. Bush — they won. And we need to see them win, again and again, so we never forget the wages of giving in to hysteria, cynicism and fear.