Ross Douthat doesn’t care for the “Bush lied, people died reductionism” of the new Matt Damon movie, “The Green Zone,” and instead, would prefer something more along the lines of The Comedy of Errors.
The narrative of the Iraq invasion, properly told, resembles a story out of Shakespeare. You had a nation reeling from a terrorist attack and hungry for a response that would be righteous, bold and comprehensive. You had an inexperienced president trying to tackle a problem that his predecessors (one of them his own father) had left to fester since the first gulf war.
Hmmm. I’m don’t think Americans wanted a “bold, comprehensive” response to 9/11 — though that’s exactly how Condi Rice described the reasoning behind Iraq. I think people wanted to get those responsible for 9/11 — period.
And notice how Ross so effortlessly pivots right from 9/11 to Iraq, as though they were somehow related. Remind you of anyone?
You had a casus belli — those weapons of mass destruction — that even many of the invasion’s opponents believed to be a real danger to world peace.
More revisionism. Plenty of experts were insisting Iraq had no WMD — including the UN inspectors on the ground. But WMD wasn’t the casus belli, it was simply chosen for “bureaucratic reasons” according to Paul Wolfowitz. It was supposedly the threat that Saddam would give his non-existent WMD to his allies, al Qaeda — another fabrication. And the desire to do “something bolder.” Oh, and we were gonna kick their ass and take their gas. Also.
Our nation might be less divided, and our debates less poisonous, if more artists were capable of showing us the ironies, ambiguities and tragedies inherent in our politics — rather than comforting us with portraits of a world divided cleanly into good and evil.
If only Hollywood could be like more George W. Bush and embrace a sophisticated, nuanced, shades-of-gray type of worldview — rather than so clumsily dividing the world into good and evil.
Why must Matt Damon poison our politics?