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American Sniper: Symptomatic of a Much Deeper Problem

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From flickr.com/photos/54636546@N02/5534310935/: Special Forces Sniper Course, 2010
Special Forces Sniper Course, 2010
(Image by USAJFKSWCS)
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Did you see the movie American Sniper? Were you thrilled at how this "most prolific sniper in the military's history" was portrayed by Clint Eastwood and presented as an American hero? Many of the reviews call this movie amazing, it's been a smashing success, breaking box office records, and has received six Oscar nominations.

No, I haven't seen it. I thought long and hard about doing just that because I was planning to write this article. But, after much thought, I finally decided that I just could not and would not contribute to the success of a movie whose plot I considered to be both disgusting and repulsive.

So, instead, I spent a good deal of time reading numerous, extensive reviews that contained contrasting opinions. I also watched several movie trailers that depicted what that film was really about; and lastly I viewed a video of a Times Magazine reporter's interview with the real Chris Kyle before he was killed in Texas.

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What's really noteworthy is that during that interview Kyle did a lot of grinning and many of his answers indicated that he fully enjoyed what he had been doing. I watched as he said that when he came home from "work" (between deployments) his wife would tell him to take off his cape. And at the end of the interview, when asked if he had any remorse or regrets, he answered, "no, none at all." And then he indicated that the American people were soft and lived in a dream world, unable to understand the realities of war.

Here are some quotes from the movie trailer from the actor who portrayed Kyle: "I got a military age male with a cellphone"; his supervising officer then says: "If you think he's reporting troop movements you have a green light." Kyle's sidekick says, "Maybe he's calling his old lady, heh, heh." Kyle also said, "I got a woman and a kid moving towards the convoy." And I later read that he, apparently, had killed the woman.

While I fully understand that he was following orders, it's evident he seemed to really enjoy what he was doing. However, the fact of the matter is that neither he nor the military he represented had any business being in that country, absolutely none, which has now been clearly documented by endless sources and supported by concrete facts. That war, those acts of intimidation and domination of Iraqis that never were a threat to America, is a dark stain on this nation's soul.

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Let me act as a movie critic for a bit. If I had planned this movie I would have tried to depict the real evil in that war by showing how it adversely affected both sides of the conflict; first, the dangers American troops had to face and the possible mixed emotions of the sniper(s); and then the misery and suffering of the Iraqi people caught in the middle and how they must have feared for their lives when they heard that a sniper was in the area, or when troops kicked down their doors and took away family members that they even suspected of aiding their enemy. Eastwood concentrated on the sniper.

Why is this film such a smash hit with so many Americans? Do any of them who view it ever think about the deeper problems it represents? This movie should remind them of the totally misguided way in which the American military has been used for many decades, following an agenda of endless war that has brought destruction across the world; from Vietnam to Iraq, to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and most recently Syria, all in the name of protecting America's interests and, yes, in conducting the fraudulent War on Terror.

What's very difficult to comprehend is that many millions of Americans who initially bought into the lies, deceit and fabrication that the Bush/Cheney administration used to initiate that despicable war still seem to remain convinced that it was the right and honorable thing to do. They remain in a state of denial and continue to accept and condone that invasion of Iraq that laid waste to the country, destroyed a great portion of its infrastructure, caused the deaths of several hundred thousand Iraqis, forced some 3 million of them to flee into other countries, and virtually destroyed the city of Fallujah, killing many of its citizens.

Many Americans can't seem to grasp the fact that this war lasted for over a decade, that the vast majority of Iraqis became impoverished, forced into homelessness, and into a state of suffering and misery; that, as a result, we now have seen the birth of ISIS and many thousands of newly recruited terrorists who have joined up to seek revenge.

These Americans don't seem to be bothered by the fact that 4500 U.S. troops died for no good reason and this war, according to any number of studies, has cost America over $2 trillion, an astounding amount of money spent on nothing more than mass destruction.

The most troubling aspect of this movie is not the satisfaction that the sniper seems to feel from doing his "work" but, rather, the very apparent acceptance by so many Americans of what he actually did; the accolades, the adulation, and the Oscar nominations that it has received since its release.

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Well, this individual is now gone and some would go so far as to say that justice has been served. That may or may not be the case and it is certainly not for us to make that judgment. However, what's of greatest import is that the American people should think about the meaning of this movie and the deeper problems that are involved; and then determine where they stand relative to the questions of morality that are involved.

Michael Payne

(Article changed on January 21, 2015 at 16:22)

 

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)
 

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