american-sniper-poster

This assignment is to pick a movie that can be considered ‘propaganda’ and discuss.

Director Clint Eastwood has said his movie, American Sniper, is about the impact of war on soldiers, how the government has let vets down, and so I will consider it propaganda for those topics. He has stated that he was not in favor of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. The movie successfully shows the stress of combat on Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his family. We see how difficult it is for Kyle to express what he feels about his experiences.

The movie is based on Kyle’s autobiographical book, American Sniper. Between 2003 and 2009 Kyle did four tours in Iraq. If it weren’t for the pressure from his wife to come home to his family, I don’t know if he ever would have. We see the toll war is taking on him, and in the end he seems ready to leave.

I think it also demonstrates an important truth about soldiers in combat, that most civilians don’t understand. While there can be a lot of talk about big concepts such as patriotism and fighting for freedom, when it comes down to it, on the field of battle, when the fight is on, soldiers fight to protect their buddies, the teammate by their side. Chris Kyle’s over riding motivation was to protect the Marines on the ground. That was his job and he excelled at it.

I have a number of family connections to the military and intelligence communities, including my husband, a US Army Special Forces sniper, and my father, an Air Force fighter pilot shot down twice over Vietnam. I am a student of military history and current affairs. I have seen the movie, read the book and the critiques of both, also director Clint Eastwood’s comments, and interviews with Chris Kyle.

I’ve read reviews where it is said this movie glorifies war, and where Kyle is reviled for calling his targets, Savages. Some like to call him ‘Xenophobic’. Given what he saw, and what they did, which is presented in the movie, it’s not hard to understand how he felt. Using children, grievous torture of innocents, what is this if not savage? It wasn’t about his opinion of their religion.

We think violence shouldn’t happen. But it is happening. Every day, every where, through out time. What ever you think about war, or violence, it is the human condition. I am always astounded in what I read and see by how violent humans are, in every way, through out history, around the world.

Kyle was ultimately shot and killed by a fellow vet he was trying to help. This sadly underscores the sorry state of affairs for many vets. This soldier was not a special operations troop. It is interesting that many spec ops men do not have as much mental turmoil over their combat experiences as ‘regular’ military.

There is a famous line about SEALs:

A SEAL is standing looking into the horizon. He is asked what he is looking for. He says:

“I am looking for a war.”

Advertisements