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March 19, 2010

Real “Green Zone”

Roy Meachum

*Friday is a day off from Lent, particularly in New Orleans where St. Joseph’s feast day is celebrated by tables loaded with food.


*Friday, grandson Jack Stonesifer celebrates his 18th birthday and sings in a show at Holton Arms School.


*Friday marks America’s latest day of infamy. Seven years ago exactly an Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalaby convinced President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney to invade his native land, although Mr. Chalaby had not lived in Iraq for more than 20 years.


And recently former White House senior adviser Karl Rove sought to assure Americans that if Mr. Bush had any idea dictator Saddam Hussein possessed no cache of weapons of mass destruction, the March 19, 2003, invasion would have never taken place.




The United Nations had search teams that kept reporting, despite numerous and thorough investigations, they turned up absolutely no traces that any WMD existed before the war. Not incidentally, a year and a half after the invasion, the chief UN inspector, Mohammad el-Baradei, received the Noble Peace Prize, despite efforts by Israel and the United States to withhold the recognition from the Egyptian senior diplomat.


One additional fact about the seventh anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, a Frederick movie theatre is running “Green Zone,” which is only a thinly fictionalized version of the truth about Iraq’s invasion.


For starters, Matt Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller with a squad that is charged with finding WMD from a secret list of locations. His real life model was CWO Richard (Monty) Gonzales whose Mobile Exploitation Team (MET) had the responsibility for finding WMDs. They worked from the list of their supposed locations and found nothing.


In the film, CWO Miller challenges the admirals and generals in charge for real evidence the WMDs exist; he’s quickly reminded of his inferior rank and ordered to resume the search. Having spent a long while in the Army, I know he did; but no one has ever found a trace of facilities capable of producing the weapons. Nothing.


Along the way, the movie CWO is present when a VIP Iraqi arrives in Baghdad after “30 years of being in exile,” according to another actor. The fictional Mr. Chalaby is fawned over by the U.S. representatives while creating little stir among his countrymen. That’s how it happened.


Through his contacts with Vice President Cheney, the real-life Chalaby gave all the appearances of a man who touched foot on his native earth and expected to be immediately chief of government, president or prime minister, at the least. He even urged the banning of the Iraqi army to make his rule easier, and the occupation authority went along.


The army was the single obstacle to the growth of terrorism. It has been duly reported that many ex-soldiers took their weapons along when they went into the anti-American resistance. By the way, in the recent elections Ahmad Chalaby was plainly pinned as an agent for Iran. Speaking of opportunists!


The final touch on building truth behind the gauze of fiction, The New York Times’ Judith Miller switches media: It is The Wall Street Journal female reporter, in the film, who writes and publishes propaganda to build up the urgency for invasion. Actress Amy Ryan has blonde hair instead of Ms. Miller’s dark tresses. But many people recognize her real life counterpart, who was summarily fired by The Times.


Already the first week’s revenues have clearly not met the industry’s benchmark for a production that topped $100 million. One trade paper headlined its story: “ ‘Alice’ Stays Green, ‘Green Zone’ Opens in the Red.’ ”


Whatever the principals anticipated in way of box office, actors Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear, director Paul Greengrass, and working from a book by The Washington Post’s ex-combat correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran, screenwriter Brian Helgeland are intelligent human beings who have brought Hollywood beaucoup bucks.


They knew the track record for war films about Iraq; they pledged themselves to getting the story told, knowing most people wouldn’t give a damn. But then, look around you, how many of your friends and neighbors are truly exercised by what’s happening over there.


Why is America’s youth still being wasted in a losing war? We are told it has something to do with Vietnam. U.S. retreat from the nation in Southeast Asia has, in fact, resulted in the people finding their own way. Vietnam is now one of this country’s serious trading partners.


Instead of billions and billions still being wasted, we should bend our national efforts toward finding out what the Afghans and Iraqis want for government. It is clearly evident from their reaction they have no patience with an American occupation force telling them what to do.


Readers should be reminded, several months in advance of the invasion, I wrote columns opposing the war; in return I received such a hostile reception at the American Legion I will not go there again. By the way, I hold a life membership.


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