I have debated back and forth on whether or not to post this as it was never my intention to make this blog in any way political. But I guess this could very easily be classified as a Random Thought so I went with that. If you don’t want to read it no worries, but I tried to encompass a wide variety of ideas so as not to be totally politically focused. If you read this blog often you may or may not know what I have read quite a few books on warfare ranging from WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, as well as the conflict in Somalia in the early 90’s. I am by no means an expert or a warmonger, but I do enjoy learning about the subject.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks I am sure you have heard about the movie American Sniper. The film has been in the news for so many reasons good and bad. It seems everyone has something to say about it. I read an article about it the other day that analyzed what everyone was saying and what not, at least I think that is what the article was about?
It is interesting that this movie has caused so much controversy. I read the book and thought it was ok, nothing special but nonetheless a good read. However, what I think is interesting is that the book Lone Survivor was exactly 1 million times better of a book, but the movie was beyond terrible. I mostly liken that to the lead actor as I think he is terrible in almost every movie he is in, although I will give him credit for The Fighter. Still even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. Somehow he continues to get roles in movies, and I have no idea why? The article talks about a few different things but one thing stood out to me. I hate talking any sort of politics so I will try to keep away from that, but when did it become so cool so fashionable so sexy to be un-patriotic?
I am guilty of this too as I am quick to bash this country and tell people what I think is wrong with it without a moment’s hesitation. I will say that I think this country is the most divided I have ever seen it in every way. It is divided socially, economically, racially, and politically. The article and the movie make it seem like only the redneck gun toting poor are the only patriotic ‘mericans in the country. And it seems that everyone looks down on those people and makes fun of them. Why?? What is wrong with loving our country?? What is wrong with being patriotic.
I did not know Chris Kyle in any way other through his book and the movie. I don’t care what anyone else says about him. I believe he was a hero, a great father and husband, and a man whose name will go down in history as a great American hero and patriot. That is something that does not happen every day. I can hear some people out there now saying, why are we glorifying a person who has killed so many people. I will quote Brad Pitt from Fury.
“Ideals are peaceful, history is violent.”
Peace and freedom cannot be attained rationally often times, and more often than not someone, usually many people have to die to achieve a cause or change the way things are. The other thing is that war is hell and believe it or not during war, often times, people die. War is an invention of man, humans are violent creatures by nature, that is just the way it is. It’s how we are programmed, trying to change it is trying to change who we are at the basis of our being. To me I took the movie as honoring a great American, not glorifying his killing or war exploits. However, I think with each shot he made saved American lives. I also believe that it is near impossible to portray a real life war scenario to someone sitting comfortably and safely in a theater. I have never been in a war or had a live weapon pointed at me where the person holding it wanted to kill me. Mr. Kyle had to make many split second decisions that resulted in the loss of life, that is not an easy thing to do, but as I mentioned above often times people die in war. And if our intent as Americans is to win the war, I think we want more of the enemy to die, correct?
There were also a few celebrities that weighed in on the film, as I am sure you have seen. I do not think this was a propaganda film made to make Americans angry against the Muslim population, as they are saying. I do not hate or dislike Muslims in any way, however I do hate (and I don’t throw that word around lightly) Radical Muslims and terrorist and liken them to Nazis. Following that logic they should be eradicated as such. They are evil and are killing civilians, raping women and decapitating, on camera, innocent people from many different countries including U.S.A, Great Britain, and Japan just to name a few. If that is not the embodiment of evil I do not know what is.
With that being said I would like to talk about the American view of war. There was a passage in Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowman, which is an awesome book if you are interested, where he interviews one of the Somalian leaders and he says something like, Americans always want to return home from war to be the hero, they do not want to die what is considered a heroic death. Whereas their (the Somalian and eastern) belief was to die in battle and to give your life for the cause. We have a totally different mindset when it comes to war. We want to go fight and come home heroes, whereas they want to fight and die in battle. That is a very powerful enemy, one that cannot be easily defeated.
Another view of American warfare is that we believe in fighting fair to an extent. We will not hurt civilians, children, and believe in doing as little damage to the country’s infrastructure if at all possible. I believe there is a mindset that we think we are better than those we are fighting, so we would never stoop to their level to win. We want to win but we want to win cleanly and nicely.
I have never understood this mindset and have almost always felt that when war is declared the objective and goal is the complete and utter destruction of your enemy. I do not think many generals or military personnel would argue with that definition. Basically they have done something so despicable and diabolical that no amount of negotiation can solve your differences. I think that pretty much qualifies as what the many terrorist organizations are doing around the world. Until recently I did not realize that this is the mindset of one of our presidents, Andrew Jackson. Below is the Jacksonian view on warfare:
For the first Jacksonian rule of war is that wars must be fought with all available force. The use of limited force is deeply repugnant. Jacksonians see war as a switch that is either “on” or “off.” They do not like the idea of violence on a dimmer switch. Either the stakes are important enough to fight for—in which case you should fight with everything you have—or they are not, in which case you should mind your own business and stay home. To engage in a limited war is one of the costliest political decisions an American president can make—neither Truman nor Johnson survived it. The second key concept in Jacksonian thought about war is that the strategic and tactical objective of American forces is to impose our will on the enemy with as few American casualties as possible. The Jacksonian code of military honor does not turn war into sport. It is a deadly and earnest business. This is not the chivalry of a medieval joust, or of the orderly battlefields of eighteenth-century Europe. One does not take risks with soldiers’ lives to give a “fair fight.” Some sectors of opinion in the United States and abroad were both shocked and appalled during the Gulf and Kosovo wars over the way in which American forces attacked the enemy from the air without engaging in much ground combat. The “turkey shoot” quality of the closing moments of the war against Iraq created a particularly painful impression. Jacksonians dismiss such thoughts out of hand. It is the obvious duty of American leaders to crush the forces arrayed against us as quickly, thoroughly and professionally as possible. http://denbeste.nu/external/Mead01.html
I believe the above statement, war is an all or nothing aspect. There is no reason to “half-ass” it and doing so will result in the deaths of many more lives. As I mentioned above I would love to know where this idea of we, Americans, are better than our enemies so we would never stoop to their levels to win. In sports that makes sense, you want to win and win fairly, come on Deflatriots! In war, to win and accomplish your objective you use any and every means necessary, up to and including nuclear weapons. Now I do not think that level of destruction needs to be deployed to defeat IS or any other terrorist organization, and when you start talking about that you get into a whole other can of worms. So let’s just stick to conventional means of war, there are plenty of other ways to kill each other without releasing the energy from splitting a single atom of hydrogen.
I will also say that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the first wars that were fought with a very watchful public eye. The media was reporting what was happening in almost real time, which is unprecedented for the history of warfare. This is both a good and bad thing. Americans almost immediately had an opinion of the war and nightly images of a bombed out and destroyed landscape filled the news. I think it is more than safe to say that both wars fought in the last 10 years or so were wildly unpopular with the American public. I think this has a lot to do with the media coverage of those wars. I very much dislike the media, but for the first time ever the average American could put a face with the war, and it was not the terrorist, it was the poor destroyed family that had nothing and was starving because of the war.
During WWII the media was censored to an extent.
A “Code of Wartime Practices for the American Press” was issued on Jan 15, 1942 giving strict instructions on proper handling of news. The code was voluntarily adopted by all of the major news organizations and implemented by the more than 1,600 members of the press accredited by the armed forces during the war. The government also relied heavily on reporter’s patriotism, which ensured that in their dispatches from the front lines, they tended to accentuate the positive.
Almost all coverage of the war that was relayed to the public spoke of all the victories as we pushed forward to destroy the Nazi war machine. Americans love victories. We are a nation of winners, we are the best no matter what we are doing. We have the best athletes in the world, best scientist, medical technology, space program, you name it we are pretty awesome. So when these images started flowing and everyone saw what war was really like, I believe, this is when it became hard to be patriotic and get behind the war effort. As I said above I am guilty of this as well. I felt the same way, how could we do that to others. I had forgotten that we were at war, once I accepted that fact I told myself that we are there to win and doing so meant killing the enemy.
I think to understand the history of war is to better understand the human species and we are complicated beings to say the least. Below are a few other articles about the movie American Sniper, it is a great movie and I highly recommend it, but at the end of the day, like so many others it is just a movie.