I have yet to see Green Zone, Matt Damon’s Bourne-esque latest, but I’ve been enjoying the commentary surrounding it. For instance, here’s Freddie DeBoer with his take on conservative criticism of the film:
What’s really behind these charges of “slander,” I suspect, is that this movie tells the bald truth about America’s involvement in Iraq: that the chief rationale for invading Iraq, that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction, has been proven entirely false. It is true and uncomfortable that we invaded a country and brutalized its people under false pretenses. If telling the unhappy truth about American actions is enough to get a movie labeled anti-American, then I suppose Amistad is an anti-American film. The movie also makes a big deal about de-Baathification and the dissolving of the Iraqi military. The movie points out that this was insanity, and this again is true and uncomfortable.
And here’s Daniel Larison responding to Ross Douthat’s complaint that the film isn’t nuanced enough:
Yes, the problem might be that we do not have artists capable of rendering contemporary architects of a war of aggression that was based on shoddy intelligence, ideological fervor and deceit in a sufficiently subtle, even-handed manner. If only Hollywood were better at portraying the depth and complexity of people who unleashed hell on a nation of 24 million people out of an absurd fear of a non-existent threat! Life is so unfair to warmongers, is it not?
I remain mystified by this conservative refusal to honestly take account of the damage wrought by their war boosterism and militarism. Among mainstream conservatives, support for President Bush’s ill-thought, reckless invasion of Iraq was near-unanimous. And given that the war has claimed tens of thousands of lives and broken many million’s more, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a little bit of contrition from conservatives. Instead, we get nonsense like Douthat’s plea for nuance. “These were decent men! They deserve some sympathy!” At the risk of sounding shrill, where exactly is the nuance in aggressive war? And why should I feel sorry for the ideologues and militarists who destroyed a country and a culture in their insane push to remake the world in America’s image?
It’s uncomfortable to think of the war in these terms — especially given our collective refusal to understand American power as anything but an unqualified good — but if we’re not going to hold accountable those responsible, then the very least we could do is acknowledge the destruction we caused. And if that requires a somewhat simplistic view of things, so be it.