The other night I watched Green Zone, the action/thriller/war movie starring Matt Damon.
The basic premise of the film is centered on the war in Iraq, life in the American green zone in Baghdad and the search for WMDs.
The movie was great, and although the plot was fictional, the movie’s underlying depictions of military goings-on overseas is fairly realistic and quite believable.
Earlier today I read Michael Hasting’s article in Rolling Stone magazine, The Runaway General, and I couldn’t help but draw certain comparisons between the article and the movie.
Even though Hasting’s piece revolves around the war in Afghanistan and the Paul Greengrass directed film takes place in Iraq, the relationships between and attitudes of the characters in the movie are eerily similar to those of the people in the journalistic piece.
Green Zone wasn’t merely a movie about good vs. evil: while American soldiers were in Iraq searching for WMDs and the “bad guys,” the “good guys” were also divided amongst themselves. The movie highlights the disconnect between the soldiers fighting the war and the men in suits mentally and theoretically fighting it. The disconnect is both apparent in the communication between both groups as well as in what each believes the overall goal of the mission to be.
Hasting’s piece highlights the same themes.
For example, Gen. Stanley McChrystal (the runaway general) shares in the article the lack of communication between the White House administration and the troops overseas.
Put simply, both sides have different ideas of how to go about successfully completing the country’s mission: ridding Afghanistan of Al Qaeda and installing a self-sufficient democratic government.
A power struggle between the elected leader of the country and the appointed leader in charge of enforcing American ideals in a foreign country splits the “good guys” right down the middle: the war’s politics is being fought between the military and the state of the same side.
The epitome of said disconnect and struggle is President Barack Obama’s dismissal of McChrystal after the publication of The Runaway General, wherein McChrystal openly voices his opinions about the White House administration.
There is always opposition to any decision or action, whether it’s the military’s counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy, or Matt Damon’s choice to disobey authority in his pursuit of a lead.
But the saying that there are two sides to every story seems a little too generic these days.