American Sniper, Part 4

U.S soldiers posing with beheaded Viet cong,

The above picture shows exactly what the brass want you to do in the Nam. The reason for printing this picture is not to put down G.I.’s but rather to illustrate the fact that the Army can really fuck over your mind if you let it. It’s up to you, you can put in your time just trying to make it back in one piece or you can become a psycho like the Lifer (E-6) in the picture who really digs this kind of shit. It’s your choice. Image is in the public domain.

by Guest Author Ross Caputi

As shown in the first three segments of my review of American Sniper, there are many well-documented facts, crucial to understanding the American presence in Iraq, but none of them come through in American Sniper. Instead, the plot is guided by Chris Kyle’s autobiography, in which his narration of his life story describes the Iraq war and occupation through the lens of a number of common, but false, beliefs—like, for example, that the people we were fighting against were evil because Islam taught them to kill Americans.

One scene shows Chris in a moral dilemma. He is on a rooftop with his sniper rifle, and through the scope he sees a woman walking with a young child next to her (presumably her son) as she carries a grenade toward a US patrol. Chris must either kill a mother and her child or leave his countrymen exposed to an attack.

In his autobiography, Chris says that this event happened in Nasiriya during the initial invasion. However, Clint Eastwood decided to situate this scene during the 2nd siege of Fallujah in 2004. Also, in the film the woman hands the grenade to her son and encourages him to rush at the US patrol, whereas in the book it is the woman who tries to throw the grenade. Did Clint Eastwood think that the woman’s involvement of her little son is a more representative portrayal of the Iraqi resistance? It’s not. These human-shield tactics were extremely rare and were only used by the most marginal and unpopular militias.

In the film, Chris kills both the woman and her son. Although visibly conflicted about what he felt obligated to do, he comments that, “that was evil like I ain’t never seen before.”

There is another moral dilemma in this scene that may not be obvious to American viewers: That woman had every right to attack the illegal, foreign invaders in her country, whether you agree with her tactics or not. We had no right to invade a sovereign nation, occupy it against the will of the majority of its citizens, and patrol their streets.

Author’s bio: Ross Caputi is a former Marine who participated in the 2nd Siege of Fallujah. Today he is on the Board of Directors of the Islah Reparations Project.  He is also the Director of the documentary film Fear Not the Path of Truth: a veteran’s journey after Fallujah  Ross holds an MA in Linguistics and he is working on an MA in English Studies at Fitchburg State University. Read his blog here.

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One Response to American Sniper, Part 4

  1. Dot Walsh says:

    I have not seen the film however I have great respect for Ross’s insight. I just finished reading a book by Henry Miller, a very different book as has been noted by Miller that his journey to Greece was a “rebirth” for him.

    The Colossus of Maroussi
    Henry Miller

    “No nation on earth can possibly give birth to a new order of life until a world view is established. We have learned through bitter mistakes that all the peoples of the earth are vitally connected but we have not made use of that knowledge in an intelligent way. We have seen two world wars and we shall undoubtedly see a third and a fourth, possibly more. There will be no hope of peace until the old order is shattered. The world must become small again as the old Greek world was-small enough to include everybody. Until the very last man is included there will be no real human society. My intelligence tells me that such a condition of life will be along time in coming, but my intelligence tells me that nothing short of that will ever satisfy man. Until he has become fully human, until he learns to conduct himself as a member of the earth, he will continue to create gods who will destroy him.”
    Published in 1941

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