Briefly Noted: The Green Zone

The year before the invasion of Iraq, the news was all about WMD: the chemical weapons, biological weapons and the mushroom cloud. Newspapers quoted “senior administration officials”; Colin Powell made a presentation; curveball made damning revelations. The smoking gun was never found, and the WMD scare just faded away as the goal post shifted.
In this action movie, based on Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the search for WMD comes back in Jason Bourne style. Matt Damon plays an Army Officer tasked to find the non-existent WMD. As he follows one false lead after another, he uncovers the truth: the administration knew very well that they did not exist.
Now that combat troops have been renamed in Iraq, it is important to  remember how the pre-emptive war originally started because another shift in goal posts is happening in Afghanistan. There is an attempt to explain that American troops are required because who else would save the women? 
This angle appeared in two media outlets in a span of weeks. First TIME had a cover story titled “What happens if we leave Afghanistan” which was accompanied by the image of a girl whose face was scarred by acid. Katie Couric made the same point in her broadcast from Afghanistan. 

VIDEO — KATIE COURIC’s “Final Thoughts” from Afghanistan: “There are many searing images from Afghanistan: the faces — so young! — of the soldiers receiving their bronze stars for valor in combat. ,,, But these are the faces and the eyes that I will always remember: the girls and women who have escaped to this shelter, their lives put indefinitely on hold. … Protecting human rights alone may not justify a massive military commitment. But whether you support this war or not, REMEMBER THESE FACES. As the Afghan government, with the tacit approval of the United States, extends a hand to the Taliban, will we turn our backs on the future of this country? Will the nations of the world allow the newfound rights of girls and women to become a casualty of a brokered peace?” [From POLITCO Playbook via email]

After this, are the Americans going to save the women in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?

3 thoughts on “Briefly Noted: The Green Zone

  1. I saw Green zone and while watching the movie and thinking about the period when the war in Iraq had started, I was thinking, we all knew it that there were no WMD, the kind of things they were saying to justify it were so plainly clumsy, so to believe in those stories and actually go to search for them requires lot of ingenuity!

  2. Does the movie tracks Rajiv’s book closely, ie, is it historic or historic fiction? 🙂
    In support of Bush though, as I supported removing the tyrant Saddam irrespective of WMDs, I don’t think Bush made a very strong case they definitely had WMDs. They always said they were unsure, but if Saddam had them it was dangerous as they could go into terrorists hands.
    Not just Colin Powell’s UN presentation, but also Tony Blair’s assertion that Saddam’s rockets could hit London!! Also, Saddam himself behaved as though he had WMDs to hide by throwing out UN inspectors and switching off cameras. If a bumbling case was made, people were willing to listen. Remember, most liberals voted for war which, when things turned sour, they disavowed.

  3. From the left coast of the US:
    I’m a regular reader of this blog and particularly enjoy the information and discussions of the early history of India and south Asia.
    I do want to disagree with Chandra that “most liberals voted for war”. Living comfortably here in the heart of liberal US, I can guarantee that not a single person I know was actually able to vote for or against the war. We had only the streets and we were in fact there, sadly with little effect.
    If Chandra is referring to the vote in the US Congress prior to the war, I’d like to point out that there were (and are) in fact very few “liberals” in the US Congress, which was and is dominated by centrists and conservatives. The names of only two or three true liberals come to mind, one of them being Barbara Lee, our representative, who did indeed vote against the resolution. In fact a majority of Democratic representatives and somewhat less than half of Democratic senators voted against the resolution. Unfortunately, conservatives dominated the US Congress at that time.
    On the other hand, I don’t deny that the majority of US popular opinion was pro war and that some Democratic politicians are having second thoughts (a bit late) about having supported the resolution. But the US is centrist-conservative country. We liberals are a distinct minority.
    Those of us who followed matter closely were well aware of the political and diplomatic maneuvering that was under way to instigate “regime change” in Iraq, several years before the “opportunity” of 9/11 presented itself as a pretext for invading Iraq. We clearly understood that there were likely no WMD, that they certainly would not be used against the US in any case, and that Iraq was unlikely to harbor or support “terrorists”. No one I know believed any of the “evidence” presented at the UN. That was a laughable and frankly dismaying performance by Powell.
    With respect to Afghanistan, another Democratic administration now fears being regarded as “weak on terror” (it was communism in the old days) in the face of an upcoming midterm election, and appears to be stumbling into another quagmire. My only hope is that Obama’s end game is more subtle than it appears and that by next summer, a new direction will emerge.
    The Katie Couric business is simply more drama, which has almost completely replaced critical thought in this country. Support for war is beginning to crumble here as we are suffering the consequences of a over a trillion USD in war debt and a moribund economy. There may yet be hope.

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