I saw American Sniper yesterday with my 85 year old Dad. Well, he’ll be 85 in March. It was so fun to go to the movies with him and as we left the theater he said to me “Boy, war movies today sure aren’t what they were like when I was young.”
This got me to thinking (which is always dangerous) what was it about this film that haunted me? I left the movie feeling kind of dazed and numb.
Well- first of all let me say that I am a huge fan of Clint Eastwood movies. He’s a wonderful director and a fascinating actor.
Also- I Love this country of the United States of America.
And – I’ve met some amazing military guys and gals over the years. Some have been wounded beyond belief. I hate this. I feel for them and can only imagine the hell they’ve been through.
In American Sniper the theme seems to be that there are 3 kinds of people: wolves, sheep and sheep dogs. We’re told that the wolves are violent sociopaths and evil and out to harm us. And the sheep? Well, they don’t have a capacity for violence and will do what they’re told but the sheep dogs HAVE a capacity for violence and will protect us from the evil wolves.
I wish it were all so black and white. In my head it just isn’t.
What if I love my country so much that I fear people have been duped by wolves living within our own borders? These wolves are war profiteers and politicians who fabricate lies to fatten their wallets. What if those who speak their minds are quickly shushed and called unpatriotic? Isn’t it more patriotic to question a kind of authority that can possibly lead us astray into situations that only make things worse?
It’s patriotic to support our troops. Don’t we support them by trying to keep them OUT of harm’s way?
In the film American Sniper we see the planes flying into the World Trade Center. Then we see Chris Kyle heading out to protect his country. Admirable yes, but then he’s shipped off to a country that had NOTHING to do with 9/11.
I know that this is just his story and we’re seeing it through his eyes and that’s what makes this movie so compelling. In the film the bad guys wear black and they’re called “savages”. The roads are dusty and just like in a western good and evil are easily recognizable.
All I kept thinking was “Hey wait! We’re invading the wrong country. This was based on lies.”
Then I looked up how many US soldiers were killed and it’s over 4,474. But- nearly 32,000 more of our men and women were wounded and the the veteran suicide rate is about 20 a day. 20!
Then I wondered how many Iraqis were killed and it’s over 400,000 people. Wow. 400,000.
That’s a lot of people killed over lies.
It’s also a lot of money being churned out for the war profiteers.
So what I’m wondering is- why it’s considered unpatriotic to question war? Especially when the people who attacked us weren’t from Iraq.
All these lives have been upended and the residual effects are still lingering.
Someone is making money on these wars and it pisses me off. There are wolves in other countries out there for sure. But, there are wolves in our own country hiding behind religion and a flag and they’re making trillions while blinding us in a fog of war.
So I left the theater with my Dad and I said “You’re right Pa. War movies today aren’t what they used to be. War is not glamorous. It’s ugly and the atrocities are unspeakable. You’d think by now we’d get it right. Don’t we have roads to build and schools to fix and space to explore?”
Then I remembered a poem my Dad made up. I love his voice. you can listen to him-
Young men of war
They fight and die
yet don’t know why
their mind is all a mess
they maim and kill against their will
they’re honor bound I guess
What drives these men against their foes
What turns them into soldiers
With each attack their terror grows
yet outwardly look bolder
In time these men become machines
as they march into battle
They’ve lost their sense of human beings
and stumble onward just like cattle
And yet the politicians wine and dine
as our young men die and far-off lands
They tell us everything is fine
but the blood is flowing in the foreign sands
We bring them home the dead and maimed
We honor them for the suffering they bore
All this blood shed for some supposed political gain
All this sorrow over some stupid war