Movie Review: The Green Zone (2009)

First class war story, war for the truth __ 9/10

The Green ZoneThe Green Zone is an Iraq movie that gets right to the point. Director Paul Greengrass is a veteran of the Bourne movies, specifically numbers 3 and 4: The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. So right from the gitgo—immediately following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003—we see Army boots on the ground as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) and his men are tasked with quickly finding weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)… the existence of which was the Bush administration’s main pretext for the invasion.

Directed by Paul Greengrass
Screenplay by Brian Helgeland
Book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Yigal Naor … General Al Rawi
Said Faraj … Seyyed Hamza
Matt Damon … Roy Miller
Amy Ryan … Lawrie Dayne
Greg Kinnear … Clark Poundstone
Brendan Gleeson … Martin Brown
Jason Isaacs
… Briggs

What you notice is how well the action sequences are orchestrated, where Miller and his men are forward with other units of the military and needing to accomplish this very important mission. A very early scene stands out where a sniper has pinned down several men. Miller is the picture of a young commanding officer, getting efficiently out of the emergency, in the midst of utter chaos. What I’m saying is the ‘war movie’ part of the movie is first class. You’ll really appreciate the action and the heroism of (some of) our men in uniform, doing a tough job.

Major plot for Green Zone—from the perspective of the thinking soldier—is “Where’s the friggin’ WMDs?!!!” Needless to say, Miller, who exemplifies the best of our forces, is highly upset after risking his men to locate a wholly empty repository of what were the whole reason they’re over here busting their butts and losing their lives… not to mention destroying thousands of innocent Iraqi people and their cities and homes. Ironically, the CIA man in Baghdad Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson)[1] knows that the administration has lied about the WMDs and wants to do the right thing: meaning, now, at least not completely destroy the country.

The key requirement for maintaining a stable Iraq, and letting the country get back on its feet from its virtual obliteration by the Coalition bombing, is to keep the Iraqi military intact. CIA-man Martin sees this as an absolute, as of course does the Iraqi military hierarchy that has survived. The key man for the Iraqi Army is General Al Rawi (Yigal Naor) and he does seem willing to take the role of running the country under American supervision. If it is offered to him. That’s a big if. [With Naor’s performance you understand that there were (and are) many men in authority in that country with integrity and competence and, for want of a better word, character.]

Art is imitating life very closely here, and the reader should check out any number of post-mortem assessments of the Aggression on Iraq.[2] You will realize just how thoroughly our leadership and the money interests that control them wanted to not simply turn Iraq into a wasteland, but to drain the West’s humanity of $trillions in war debt and to suppress libertarian threats to their power at home. It was not only desirable to waste human treasure in the Middle East, it was (and is) essential. Essential to the broader purpose of destroying America and its Constitution, which are the last major obstacles to central world tyranny.

In the movie, as in life, the Iraqi military was disbanded… thrusting the country into utter chaos. The same higher-echelon officials behind the false reports of WMDs were (and are) the ones pursuing mass incarceration and torture of Iraqi civilians, regular and sundry massacres of Iraqis—mainly by private contractors such as Blackwater—, and shutting down all the infrastructure required for a modern industrial civilization… which Iraq was until we essentially bombed it back to the Stone Age. The contrast between the actual Green Zone in the city of Baghdad, a virtual Club Med for Western personnel, and the rest of the country is stark and intentional.

The representative of Washington, Poundstone—I believe in real life, the supreme administrator of the country was a thoroughly sleazy man named Bremer—is played by Greg Kinnear. And he is every bit the despicable political psychopath. Poundstone knows the WMD story is a lie, further he wants to contain that revelation, which Officer Miller is intent to convey. Miller does confide what he has not found to a Wall Street Journal reporter, Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan); here’s where art does not imitate life, because the Journal reporter is actually skeptical of the official military story. [They don’t call it the War Street Journal for nothin’.]

Anyway, the race is on and it’s quite an intense ride as this completely believable unbelievably heroic American soldier—if you insist on calling American soldiers all heroes, please watch this movie and discover the real McCoy—Roy Miller attempts to find the Iraqi general. Poundstone’s goons-in-arms desperately need to stop Miller. Miller and Brown want to reach a deal for Al Rawi to take over the infrastructure. The last thing Poundstone and his rulers want is a stable country; where’s the money in that? Where’s the ongoing loot for Halliburton, Chevron, Blackwater, the rest of the war machine, the banksters, and the Carlyle Group?

Aside from the great action sequences and the portrait of a genuine heroic American military officer (and heroic intelligence officer, believe it or not) and the Club Med images of the surreal world of the Green Zone—complete with girls in bikinis and five-star restaurants—and the nailbiting suspense, The Green Zone is an awfully depressing movie.

You’ll find yourself getting all tensed up and saying, “How could we have done such a horrible thing on such a massive scale to millions of fellow human beings FOR NO VALID MILITARY REASON WHATSOEVER?!!! What got to me, in particular, was how widespread the practice was (and is) for rounding up any person, without charges, without suspicion of wrongdoing, without habeas corpus, without trial, without an interpreter, without reason… then, on the whim of a goon-for-hire—we know, after Abu Graib, that most of the atrocities committed by Americans in Iraq were (and are) performed by private contractors, not regular military—throwing that person into a dungeon and torturing him, often to death.

The thought keeps coming to you. People representing us are the grossest and most vile scum on the face of the planet. They are getting away with torture and murder of tens of thousands of individuals. It’s routine. No one is investigating, and, seemingly, no one in America cares. If you can watch this movie, then write a check to the US Treasury come April 15 (even if you were legally required to), I have to question your basic humanity.

These utter horrors performed under auspices of the United States federal government cry out for a public tax strike of huge proportions. What public figure, from left or right, will lead this movement? Whose government is it anyway? The other thought that collides with this true tax withholding idea is, “If people from the Middle East did not hate us before the atrocities we have committed upon them, they sure do now.”


[1] CIA man Brown is probably a representation of the real Robert Baer, former CIA case officer in the Middle East, and author of See No Evil and Sleeping with the Devil. Both works condemn the forces ‘on high’ who have taken over the intelligence services and made them serve what Baer believes is fundamentally Saudi oil interests. Baer’s analyses figure into the movie Syriana (also with Matt Damon) which Baer cowrote. He is like the character Brown, an intelligence agent who has not been bought off by the Oligarchy.

[2] Antonia Juhasz’s The Bush Agenda is a good start. But there are several books that reveal just how intentionally the military and administration behaved irrationally over there, leaving well-meaning men and women twisting in the wind and worse.

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