Is American Sniper As Good As The Green Berets?


640px-Birth_of_a_Nation_theatrical_posterClint Eastwood is an excellent director so his new propaganda film American Sniper will no doubt be exciting as hell to watch, with lots of things and people blowing up real good.

This will beef up military recruitment like all war movies do, pro or con. Now we know the US is always right and must go anywhere in the world (where there is oil) in order to kill all the ‘bad guys’. Because that’s how wars are won. You must kill all the bad guys.

Triumph_des_Willens_posterScott “Chris” Kyle, alleged (by himself) to be the greatest sniper who ever lived (Carlos Hathcock? Vasily Zaitsev?), was incensed that Saudis and Yemenis had destroyed the World Trade Center.

Kyle became a Navy Seal and volunteered to go and kill Iraqis-difficult to see the connection but maybe Kyle believed in the WMDs. Or maybe he just wanted to kill somebody but didn’t want to break no kind of laws.

But no matter, per Kyle, he became ‘The Legend’ by blowing away hundreds of various bad guys and thus became the greatest ever. However, a jury of his peers decided that Kyle invented at least one story by awarding former Governor Jesse Ventura over a million and a half dollars in damages for defamation and libel. I actually tried to read Kyle’s book but it was tough sledding. Let’s be kind and call it self-serving claptrap.

AllQuietOnTheWesternFrontHe must have loved his work to go back tour after tour, blowing away so many savages-his word. It must weary a man to kill and kill and kill and kill. It broke down the SS prison guards’ minds, all that killing. They needed frequent R&Rs to Berlin- like Kyle had to get back to the states now and then- or they cracked.

Good thing everybody Kyle blew away were bad guys (or bad gals), fully deserving termination with extreme prejudice. After all, it’s a simple black and white world, right?

reddawnHe sure must have been patriotic with such a sense of duty (probably to his buddies) to put himself in harm’s way time after time, for our sake.

Well, 900 meters away from harm’s way, observing through heavy lenses. And all for us (and his buddies). What did he get out of it but wealth, fame, and a fabulous career writing and starring in many an epic.

Maybe his end was a bit sad but he died trying to help a fellow vet. He took a buddy suffering from PTSD to the shooting range. That turned out not to be a good idea. The buddy concluded Kyle and another sailor were bad guys and wasted both. Because that’s what you do to bad guys.

Ever since sniping, or sharpshooting as it was called then, was developed during the American Civil War, it has had a mixed and contradictory image. “There was a general feeling among other troops that the sharpshooter did not ‘play fair,’ and in some way violated the rules of war. One Northerner complained that sharpshooters would ‘sneak around trees or lurk behind stumps’ and from this vantage point ‘murder a few men.’ 

The Confederates felt the same toward captured Union Sharpshooters: “in our estimation they are nothing but murderers creeping up & shooting men in cold blood & should receive the fate of murderers.” *

220px-סילבסטר_סטלונהIn wars since then snipers have been needed and used but also despised and when captured often summarily shot or bayoneted. And that seemed fair to me when I was in Vietnam. It seemed unfair to me that the excellent VC snipers, with their antiquated but accurate Mosin-Nagant rifles, could pop me off and I couldn’t get at them. That was the sentiment in the US Army at the time, at least the non-elite view.

But then we didn’t worship John Wayne, another War Wimp neo-con. Now War Wimps can glory in the thrill of the (very distant) righteous kill. At least the war in Iraq was useful in some way. It helped Chris Kyle, Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s career.

*Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering
Triumph of the Will image via Wikipedia
All Quiet on the Western Front poster by Fritz Erle
Birth of A Nation poster courtesy Epoch Film Co. – Chronicle of the Cinema. (London: Dorling Kindersley)
Stallone in Rambo III, photographed by Yoni S.Hamenahem
Red Dawn poster courtesy MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

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