The movie American Sniper covers the four tours of duty in Iraq of US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Clint Eastwood puts you right in a war zone without any desensitising introductions. It is disquieting, and meant to be no doubt. He brings home the sheer courage of US Marines combing through Iraqi streets and buildings not knowing if and when they would be maimed or killed. Kyle had the life-saving and noble role of protecting them from ambush. At least, that is the way I feel.
Some on the left, such as Michael Moore, feel differently. Snipers are ‘cowards’ apparently; ‘shooting people in the back’. Some deadbeat commentator on MSNBC (NBC News reporter Ayman Mohyeldin) described Chris Kyle’s exploits in defending US marines as going on a ‘killing spree’ and ‘showing racist tendencies towards Iraqis and Muslims’. Nothing printable adequately describes these self-obsessed poltroons who are able to enjoy their comfortable safe lives only because of courageous people like Chris Kyle?
But let’s take it on its face. What would these doyens of the loony left say about snipers in the Second World War? What would they say they about any soldier in any war who shot someone without giving them a warning and an even chance to shoot back? Crews of bombing planes will obviously fall foul of these armchair paragons of fair play in war. I doubt First World War sharpshooter Sergeant York (played by Gary Cooper in the 1941 movie) would escape unscathed.
Before his untimely and tragic death in February, 2013, Kyle was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. If the interview (below) is any guide, Bradley Cooper plays him to a tee in the movie. O’Reilly asked if Kyle had any regrets about his activities in Iraq. He exhibited no maudlin second-guessing. His regret was only that he hadn’t been able to save the lives of more marines – implicitly by shooting more of the enemy. Thankfully there was no puerile reflection on the futility of war.
If you want that kind of thing you will probably get a good dose of it by tuning into this year’s Australian television drama series on Gallipoli, which has always been good for left-wing breast-beating about the awfulness of war and the incompetence of leadership. War is awful. And, as Churchill said, it is also “mainly a catalogue of blunders.” We know all of that!
It is beside the point; just wars have to be fought whatever the cost. Without them the bad guys would run the show. There are no ifs, buts or maybes. Michael Moore is just as likely to find his head stuck on a pikestaff as the rest of us.
The world is as it is. Over to Chris Kyle: people come in three varieties: sheep (who can’t defend themselves), wolves and sheepdogs.
Most of us are sheep. There are plenty of wolves. We need sheepdogs to keep us safe. Those who think otherwise are fools. If ever we let the fools hold sway we would deserve our inevitable bloody fate. Over to Churchill again (and with Islamist ‘jackboots’ marching and winning, wouldn’t it be nice if someone emerged of even half his stature and resolve):
If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.