I watched the movie American Sniper almost a week ago, so if you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of it, or are somehow on the fence about the most controversial film in years, allow me to make things clear as mud. You're welcome!
American Sniper brought to mind two movies. The first is fairly obvious - Lone Survivor. Unlike Lone Survivor, I haven't read the book on which American Sniper is based, thereby violating my own rule (I'll get to it, dammit!), so I can't say how closely the movie follows the book.
The second movie American Sniper brings to mind is - shockingly - The Deer Hunter, minus the anti-war, anti-American propaganda. It left me wondering what movie American Sniper's "Liberal" critics saw, because the movie I watched is a realistically brutal portrayal of the price war exacts from the people involved in it. Obviously, the movie deals with the price Chris Kyle paid fighting in Iraq, but it also portrays the damage done to his family (especially his wife, Taya), his friends, his brother, fellow servicemen and - to a lesser, but dramatic degree - Iraqi non-combatants.
In fact, I'd say it's the most personal and realistic portrayal of one human cost of war - the price paid by the living - that I've ever seen. This is truly a great movie. It was also very difficult for me to watch.
Bradley Cooper, by the way, was outstanding in the lead role. He put on a lot of weight, grew a beard, changed his voice and mimicked Kyle's accent. He pretty much disappeared into the role. I never once thought, "oh yeah, that's the dude from The Hangover".
Like most books made into movies, I suspect some of American Sniper is embellished. For example, Mustafa, the sniper, was a real person. You can probably still find - in the darker corners of the internet - the videos he and his associates made of Mustafa shooting American servicemen. I doubt, however, that there was a snipers' duel (like Zaytsev vs. König in Stalingrad, or Carlos "The White Feather" Hathcock vs. "The Cobra" in Vietnam) between Mustafa and Kyle in real life. Unfortunately, embellishment is always a part of Hollywood movies.
If you want to read two great, real life stories about Chris Kyle, by the way, check out this article.
|Anti-war protesters in San Francisco, 2003.|
As I stated in my Lone Survivor review, Leftists can only abide portrayals of American servicemen as either victims or monsters, often simultaneously. American Sniper, presents us with a deeply flawed - but undoubtedly heroic - Chris Kyle making split second, life and death moral choices in the worst possible circumstances. That is unacceptable to the Left. American servicemen must only be portrayed positively when killing their superiors, deserting their units or committing treason.
That's why this movie is controversial.
Why American Sniper Is Important:
You've probably heard of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. You may not know that they've been around a lot longer than the talking heads on TV let on.
The enemy portrayed in the movie is Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Later in the war, they began calling themselves The Islamic State in Iraq. Their stated goal was to create an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East, starting with Iraq. AQI/ISI members that survived the war in Iraq went to Syria to fight in that civil war and began calling themselves The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or the Levant, depending on whom you believe).
Apparently, they hate the name Daesh, so that's what I'll call them from now on.
Daesh is nothing new. Any defense, intelligence or diplomatic official who "didn't see [Daesh] coming" is either lying or incompetent.
|AQI Torture Manual|
Such a lead brought soldiers earlier this month to the hidden room in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Thursday. Graffiti on the building proclaimed "Long Live the Islamic State" - a reference to the Islamic governance, or caliphate, sought in Iraq by Sunni extremist groups that include al-Qaida.
Scrawled in white paint above a bed in the torture area was a Quranic phrase in Arabic normally used to welcome a guest. But the context suggested only sadistic mockery: "Come in, you are safe."
The floor was littered with food wrappers, plastic soda bottles and electric cables that snaked to a metal bed frame, presumably where detainees were shocked, according to the U.S. account of the discovery during a Dec. 8-11 mission.
The rooms "had chains, a bed - an iron bed that was still connected to a battery - knives and swords that were still covered in blood," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, the top U.S. commander in northern Iraq.
Nearby were nine mass graves containing the remains of 26 people, he said.Elsewhere in Diyala...
Soldiers from 5th IA said al Qaeda had cut the heads off the children. Had al Qaeda murdered the children in front of their parents? Maybe it had been the other way around: maybe they had murdered the parents in front of the children. Maybe they had forced the father to dig the graves of his children.In Baghdad...
A raid on a major al-Qaida hideout north of Baghdad has uncovered evidence of a network of child suicide bombers who have been coerced into launching terror attacks across Iraq.
The use of children had been seen as a way to bypass security checks that have gradually become more stringent nationwide.And it's all happening again. Because it's the same people doing it all over again.
In reference to Iraq, at least, the U.N. report found that the terrorist group is resorting more and more to brutal acts such as enslaving, raping, beheading, crucifying and burying people alive. Some of those affected are children.
"We have had reports of children, especially children that are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding what has happened or what they have to expect," said Renate Winter, an expert with the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Some as young as age 8 are getting training to become soldiers, she said.
Son of Australian Muslim, Khaled Sharrouf, holds the decapitated head of a soldier in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
"Children of minorities have been captured in places where the so-called ISIL has its strength, have been sold in market with tags, price tags on them, have been sold as slaves," Winter said.
People of the Yazidi faith -- which draws from Christianity, Judaism and the ancient monotheistic religion of Zoroastrianism, and which some Muslims consider devil worship -- have long faced persecution, though by comparison ISIS' cruelty to them has been extraordinary. Kurdistan Regional Government adviser Nazand Begikhani, for instance, has said Yazidi "women have been treated like cattle, ... subjected to physical and sexual violence, including systematic rape and sex slavery."
Yazidi children haven't fared much better at the hands of ISIS. An earlier U.N. report described how militants rounded up all Yazidi males "older than 10 years of age at the local school, took them outside the village by pickup trucks, and shot them."In light of current events, American Sniper serves as a stark reminder of what happens when we knock an enemy down, then fail to follow through.
I highly recommend American Sniper, although I don't know if I'll ever watch it again. Be warned, it's tough to watch, especially if you fought in Iraq or Afghanistan. If you have loved ones there now, you may want to wait until they're home safe. Or, like my wife, refuse to watch it... ever!