'Green Zone': Disappointing, Even if You Share Its Politics

By Ed Koch
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Universal Studios


The Green Zone is a polemic involving the CIA (the good guys) and the White House (the bad guys) who in this movie script got us into the Iraq war by fabricating the intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

After the war in Iraq in 1993 was initially won, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) is sent to Iraq to search for WMD. Every site he and his team examine comes up empty, and Miller soon concludes that there are no such weapons, and the intelligence is faulty.

On the scene is a Wall Street Journal reporter, Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan), who wrote story after story before the war reporting on the existence of such weapons. She tells Miller that her information came from Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) an intelligence officer on the White House staff. Poundstone is in Baghdad as is CIA representative Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), who is constantly frustrated by Poundstone's actions.

Many in the audience will undoubtedly enjoy the ridiculing of the White House and the smearing of President George W. Bush, who is shown several times on television news broadcasts. They don't show the "Mission Accomplished" sign on the aircraft carrier, which we all remember with its foolish bravado.

At the beginning of the film, an Iraqi civilian, Freddy (Khalid Abdalla), approaches Miller and tells him where the highest ranking Iraqi military person, General Al Rawi (Igal Naor), is hiding. That particular scene is totally unbelievable. There are other scenes that made no sense, primarily because we are not told who particular military personnel are and whether they might be hired mercenaries swooping in on helicopters. It occurred to me that some could have been the civilians hired for guard duty by the State Department who were later exposed in real life as out of control. Some actually disgraced themselves by killing innocent Iraqi civilians and were ultimately fired. Some were tried in a federal court and exonerated.

I don't like polemics, not even those supporting my position. This film does not support my position. I believe we were right to enter Iraq based on the information provided by the CIA which we later learned was wildly incorrect. I also believe that George Tenet should have been fired for incompetence and his comment regarding the existence of WMD in Iraq: "Don't worry, it's a slam-dunk." He should not have been allowed to retire. He should have been fired and not presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service by President Bush.

The tension in the film is provided by the excellent soundtrack, several car chase scenes, helicopters flying overhead, and technology allowing the U.S. military to follow Iraqi insurgents running away during the night hours when their safe house had been uncovered. But with all of that, the movie contains far too little in terms of a coherent, believable plot.

A.O. Scott clearly enjoyed the film. In his New York Times review he wrote, "And the inevitable huffing and puffing about this movie's supposedly left-wing or "anti-American" agenda has already begun. All of this suggests that the arguments embedded within the movie's version of 2003 are still going on seven years later, and are still in need of accessible and honest airing. Which is precisely what Green Zone, without forsaking its job of entertainment, attempts."

Yet, the movie makes the CIA and its operatives the guys with the white hats. Ridiculous, since they came up with the erroneous conclusion on WMD.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/03/green-zone-disappointing-even-if-you-share-its-politics/37538/