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Remember: Iraq Was And Is An Outrage

March 22, 2010

The Green Zone, a.k.a. The Fourth Bourne, is the story of  Roy Miller (Matt Damon), an American army officer who comes to Iraq to find WMDs. After repeated fruitless visits to supposed weapon sites, he begins to question the intelligence behind the sites and begins to dig deeper, exposing an operation that doctored intelligence in order to make the case for the war, run by Pentagon official Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear).

Overall, it’s a relatively exciting and entertaining movie, though I felt it was a bit more predictable than the actual Bourne movies, partially because the ending seemed pretty obvious from the start. Unlike the Bourne movies, it’s a story that’s already known (at least to me). In terms of its political message, however, I wish it were more ambitious. The real outrage in the justification of the Iraq War is not that an upper-level official like Greg Kinnear’s character distorted the evidence in order to convince the American public of the necessity of the war; instead, the real outrage is that President Bush and his Cabinet demanded that the evidence be distorted. The chain of responsibility does not end three-quarters of the way up. It ends with the Commander-in-Chief – and this movie wasn’t courageous enough to follow that chain all the way up.

From another perspective, I was heartened that the movie didn’t avoid the torture, abuse and murder of detainees by U.S. personnel. Those familiar with the Abu Ghraib photos will recognize certain scenes in the movie as direct representations of verifiable mistreatment of those in U.S. custody. As discredited officials such as Dick Cheney and Marc Thiessen continue to make the case for the legalization and utilization of torture in America despite the total absence of evidence in support of their assertions, the barbarity and ineffectualness of the practice needs to be reemphasized. While the movie didn’t go as far as it could have, it still did a more than passable job of addressing the issue.

Further critiques: it would have been much better if the movie had been more timely. The debate of Iraq is essentially over. We will begin withdrawing troops soon and, while a remnant of our forces may remain in an advisory or peacekeeping role for years to come, that fact has become an accepted penance for screwing up so royally in the first place. Also, the movie fail to address the more justifiable humanitarian rationale for invading Iraq. I don’t think that was enough to justify an invasion but it was part of the lead-up nonetheless. Also, kudos to the movie for addressing the utter incompetency of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

All in all, it’s worth a hundred and five dimes, particularly if you’re less than familiar with the WMD farce.

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