The following is an excerpt from "The Age Of The Unthinkable" by Joseph Cooper Ramo.
In fact, one of the more dangerous ideas about postwar Iraq reads like something out of a C. S. Holling case study: thinking that a single variable – political reform – would determine the future of the country. The idea was that after U.S. forces booted out and de-Baathified the Iraqi army, security would come from a strong constitution and an open democracy. In postwar reports and in the biographies of men such as Tommy Franks and George Tenet, you find a confident sense that safety for Iraqis would emerge naturally once the country had new rules. So the United States spent billions constructing a "green zone" under the illusion that creating a safe haven for an acting parliament would somehow bring the country into an easy order. But this was ridiculous, as soldiers on the ground began insisting almost immediately. Sure, a constitution and a parliament mattered, but without basic security they would be worse than pointless. There would be no certainty about anything in Iraq, least of all a political order, without security. As Holling and a group of other scholars had observed about wildlife settings, "In contrast to an efficiency-driven, command-and-control approach, management that accepts uncertainty and seeks to build resilience can sustain social-ecological systems, especially during periods of transformation following disturbance." This, in a nutshell, should have been Iraq. It took the White House more than three years to change its policy.
John Powell (still my favourite composer) whips up perhaps his most action-filled score since The Bourne Supremacy, and is already one of my favourites this year so far. It's a little bit obscured due to the way the soundtrack was mixed in the film itself, but as a listening experience by itself, the percussive patterns were positively sublime.
I thought it was pretty cool for Jason Isaacs to be in this one playing a secondary character, where there is almost not a single instance where you can see him clearly, as he is under a beard and there are virtually no close-ups of him (certainly none stable enough for you to realise it's him). Actors should do this more.
Also, Khalid Abdalla, who was previously seen in Greengrass' United 93 playing the lead terrorist and later seen in Marc Forster's The Kite Runner playing the lead character in his adult years, gets his best role yet here as Freddy, a sympathetic if angry Iraqi who tries to help the soldiers with equal parts willingness and reluctance, and figures in one of the movie's most crucial moments.
Also, reading the New York Times review of this movie, I realised how much more I need to improve my writing vocabulary. I was searching for the words, and I see all of them here: "dutiful" describes Matt Damon's character better than "obedient"; "hotshot" was the word I was looking for to describe Jason Isaacs' (the best my mind could come up with at the time was "arrogant"); and "to fictionalize without falsifying" succinctly describes that inarticulated notion that was forming in my head.