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Green Zone: an arrogant movie that justifies American wars

Richard Seymour argues that Green Zone paints a picture of Iraq that aims to rehabilitate US imperialism

Issue No. 2193

Matt Damon in Green Zone

Matt Damon in Green Zone

Hollywood has a revisionist narrative for every war – like the myth that the US single-handedly won the Second World War.

Paul Greengrass’s Green Zone is another boring, self-obsessed story of lost American innocence.

It critiques neoconservative foreign policy from a liberal imperialist comfort zone.

Here neocon trickery took the US to war while the occupation failed due to bad planning, ideological zealotry, and an over-emphasis on democracy.

Unit leader Roy Miller (Matt Damon) asks why the weapons of mass destruction sites his unit investigates are empty.

The Pentagon and the neocons obstruct him – yet the CIA “good guys” are his allies.

The torture of prisoners is attributed to the neocons – yet the CIA has run the US torture complex throughout the “war on terror”.

Miller is assisted by a “native” informer whose motives are unclear.

He complains about the lack of basic amenities for Iraqis, but never seems to hold it against the Americans.

His role is to voice the democratic aspirations of Iraqis – and to give the impression that the US is their natural ally.

Yet the film believes that Iraqis weren’t ready for democracy.

Miller’s CIA boss thinks that the Ba’athist army is necessary to stop Sunnis, Shia and Kurds tearing each other apart.

However, Iraq was not profoundly riven by sectarianism before the invasion in 2003.

Another of Miller’s allies is reporter Lawrie Dayne. In the run-up to war, Dayne disseminated lies about Iraq’s WMD, fed to her by Bush administration officials.

Her story bears obvious similarities to that of Judith Miller, whose reports of Iraq’s “weapons” were used to justify war.

Miller went to jail to protect Dick Cheney’s chief-of-staff Lewis Libby, and now works at the neocon Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Unlike Miller, Dayne welcomes the truth and has no ideological axe to grind.

By reinventing Miller as a well-meaning dupe, the film vindicates a rotten profession that continues to lie about Iraq.

Miller finds that the neocons fabricated WMD sites and angrily demands to know what will happen next time “we need people to trust us”.

The film is most angry about the damage to America’s reputation. It is an effort to restore that reputation, at whatever cost to the truth.

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Tue 16 Mar 2010, 19:38 GMT
Issue No. 2193
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