Conservative Logic: Because Iraq Was a Just War, Sniper Chris Kyle Must be a Hero

In an op-ed on CNN yesterday, former Navy SEAL Don Mann says that Michael Moore is wrong about ‘American Sniper’ – that “Without people like Chris Kyle, Americans would face more dangers.” If this is not quite the National Review’s David French claiming, “The movie gives America something it’s lacked since the start of the war — a war hero on a truly national, cultural scale,” it is bad enough.

We can be reasonably certain that Mann is not trying to argue that “without war criminals and murderers” we would face more dangers (or maybe he is, and more’s the pity) – and here one does not have to agree with Moore that “all snipers are cowards” – but that is precisely what Mann ends up arguing, because a war criminal is precisely what Chris Kyle was.

I have previously argued the point that Chris Kyle can be equated with members of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen who scoured the Eastern Front for the enemies of ethnic nationalism, much as Kyle did in Iraq. His “savages” are to be equated with National Socialism’s “Untermenschen.” Kyle is an odd example, if so, if an Aryan Übermensch, or superman, but ethnic nationalists tend to have distorted self-images hardly representative of the culture they claim to represent.

Mann first explains the role of the sniper:

A sniper, who operates behind enemy lines, has one of the most demanding and dangerous duties in the Special Operations community. Snipers operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and a host of other countries often must crawl and make their way through treacherous urban or desert war-zone terrain for hours just to reach their position undetected, a position of over-watch, cover and concealment. Once they are on site, they sometimes stay in their position for days on end waiting for follow-on orders.

He goes on to argue – though it does not follow – that,

Military snipers are not sociopaths, coldblooded killers. Snipers believe in their hearts that when they neutralize, or “take out,” a threat that they are saving the lives of their teammates, other military personnel or other innocent people. Their target hit lists typically include terrorists or people preparing to cause grave harm or death to the innocent.

This, mind you, spoken of a man who claimed to have shot down in cold blood some thirty people during Hurricane Katrina’s messy aftermath, without trial. Even if you can excuse Kyle’s Fallujah exploits, how does Mann justify this claim by his hero? He doesn’t. He ignores it instead.

At any rate, that is Mann’s viewpoint. While Mann writes that, “I remain deeply honored and humbled to be an American and to have been part of a community where heroes like Kyle have served,” another viewpoint is that of Ross Caputi, a former Marine who also fought at Fallujah, who writes:

I am arguing that he [Kyle] was not a hero. He and I both participate in an illegal and immoral war and occupation, and that deserves no praise or recognition. In particular, we both have the same blood on our hands for helping to destroy the city of Fallujah.

The point I would make here is that if no military sniper is a sociopath (and Kyle specifically), then by necessity, the SS troops on the Eastern Front, also engaged in the indiscriminate looting and the killing of civilians (not to mention the view of them as naturally inferior to the sniper) were not sociopaths either. The evidence, however, would suggest otherwise. And sociopaths or not, their actions were and are, when they behave like Kyle, against not only the code of military conduct, but against international law.

Yet Mann would have us accept a very simplistic good vs. evil world where,

The terrorist — the enemy, the “bad guy” — strikes terror and threatens to harm and kill the innocent, like the wolf who threatens the sheep. Fortunately, there are brave men and women who sacrifice much to protect those who wish to live day to day in peace. These protectors are the community sheepdogs.

Enter, implausibly, Chris Kyle:

Chris Kyle was a champion sheepdog. Every time Kyle pulled back on his trigger and fired a shot that neutralized a “wolf,” he was saving countless lives and protecting the sheep. Every wolf he put down was no longer capable of causing harm or death to the sheep, the innocents.

But Chris Kyle not only did not regret killing these so-called “wolves” but he actually enjoyed it, in his own words:

“I hate the d*** savages and I’ve been fighting and I always will. I love killing bad guys. Even with the pain, I loved what I was doing. Maybe war isn’t really fun, but I certainly was enjoying it.

Kyle even went so far as to say, “I only wish I had killed more,” that,

I loved what I did. I still do. If circumstances were different – if my family didn’t need me – I’d be back in a heartbeat. I’m not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun. I had the time of my life being a SEAL.

This is the point Bill Maher made Friday when citing some of Kyle’s statements, calling the sniper a “psychopath patriot.”

We could question what, precisely, Kyle sacrificing was that he enjoyed it so much? We are told he was separated from his family but by his own admission it seems his family needed him more than he needed them.

His conservative defenders say of Kyle that we cannot take a single quote and use it to define a man, but it is apparently permissible to issue a blanket statement to say no matter how many laws a sniper breaks, or how much joy he takes in killing, a sniper is no sociopath.

Caputi concludes,

Voices like Chris Kyle’s emerge and are embraced because they tell us exactly what we want to hear. They merely reaffirm preexisting beliefs about the benevolence of American wars and the righteousness of American armed service people. That’s why American Sniper has been so success. It reassures us of what we want to believe about Iraq and about our veterans, and Chris Kyle’s combat credentials make it believable.

And this says a lot about why conservatives in particular are eager to defend this film. It is the reassurance they need that they are the good guys, no matter how much evil they sow in America’s name.

Conservative logic dictates that because Iraq was a just war, Chris Kyle must necessarily be a hero. But of course, Iraq was not a just war; far from it, it was a criminal enterprise from start to finish, no more honest than Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939.

And in the end, if we glorify psychopaths we send to defend America, not only do we denigrate the decent young men and women serving in those wars, but are we not already at that point where there is nothing here worth defending?

28 Replies to “Conservative Logic: Because Iraq Was a Just War, Sniper Chris Kyle Must be a Hero”

  1. History will not be kind to the United States.

    I know people take the Rev Wrights words out of context but it rings true
    “They wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people,”

  2. He’s not a hero. Sorry, he’s not.

    I don’t blame the man for doing his job. I do blame him for liking it so much.

  3. I’m very proud I served my Country ~ But I was serving For the Freedom of the Peace Demonstrators to March in the Streets against Dishonest Wars in Vietnam & Iraq Etc.

    When asked to be a Navy Seal I was Honored But Politely Said No Thanks – Because I knew it’s not in me to kill anyone, especially when when they never harmed me or my Country. Such as the Iraq, Vietnam and many other conflicts.

    Now in WW-2 I’d of been a sniper if asked to do so but I damned Sure wouldn’t enjoy killing any human being or even an animal that wasn’t harming anyone.

    I Can’t stand Clint Eastwood but I like most Movie Stars both Male & Female. I’ll wait till his movie rents for Free to see it.

  4. Once again the point is missed. The story asks some very good questions, even if they weren’t printed out in bold headlines throughout the movie. Should we have been involved in the first place? Should we blame the sniper for our government and in turn us putting him in a situation that permitted the sniper to love the act of killing people…for doing his job so well he enjoyed it? Was his obvious PTSD his fault? At what point should he not have been permitted to return? None of these questions are being addressed, but they’re being screamed at you for the entire 2 hours and 14 minutes the film is running. And that doesn’t take into consideration the man that ended Kyle’s life who is facing his own personal demons.

  5. It wasn’t a Just War and all of those anti-Choice PRO-WarAbortion Catholics out there IGNORED Pope John Paul II’s decision that it wasn’t a Just War. I know this for a fact since I talked to several of them on Kerry phone-banks in 2004.

  6. Judging by what he said about Iraqis and how he lied about certain things (shooting looters during Hurricane Katrina, Jesse Ventura, etc.), I don’t think we can call Chris Kyle a hero.

    Actually, it really troubles me that so many people in this country blindly worship the military and praise soldiers as heroes without knowing anything about them. Soldiers as people, and there are good one and bad ones.

  7. There seems to be a nice growing rift about the movie, especially with how it actually reflects the source material it was working with. Right now I’m in the neutral camp on that matter (especially since I still would like to see the movie), but what I can say on having been following a good deal of what’s been going on in the Middle East since before the US got involved with the Gulf Countries for another go since I was 13 and even before then with the first Gulf excursion, war isn’t as clean cut like some people try to make it out as, and everyone involved that it affects the most suffer a great deal as a result of it. You do have some heinous individuals that do some deplorable crap with no regard for life, that is without a shadow of a doubt, but you do have others that are doing some stuff like that either because they believe what they are doing is right, it’s their job, and/or they don’t have much of a choice, especially if they are trying to make ends meet.

  8. From what I can tell, the Clint Eastwood’s film tried to humanized Chris Kyle to some degree as opposed to how he displayed himself in his autobiography.I don’t like the fact that there are some idiots on both sides of the matter either praising him as a hero because of patriotism or decrying him as a monster because humanity instead of looking at the entirety of the matter (and mind you, many of these asshats are hypocrites with fundamentalist roots). War and any military missions a soldier ends up getting involved in gradually eats away at what makes you human, and that’s provided if an individual was a stable human being before going into service, or on the flipside of that if you’re a rebel or insurgent, rising up or being radicalized for a “cause”. I do not know what Kyle was like before going into the service, I’m still digging for information about that and some other stuff, but what is clear is that how he acted after each subsequent tour of duty, to which someone probab…

  9. You’re right, Aunt Bold Ire. I used to know a number of ACPW Catholics on a favorite bulleti board of mine, the kind you describe.

    Now, here’s where the other shoe drops. I, along with several other Catholics on that board, considered ourselves against Iraq War II from the beginning, though I and several of them were still anti-abortion.

    I also support the ACA, and consider it unjust to artificially link the abortion issue with the healthcare reform issue.

    The upshot of all this being, there’s a whole spectrum of opinions among Catholics, with innumerable shades of nuance in their positions on things.

  10. After my initial and automatic sense of shock when I heard Rev. Wright say those words, I moved on and actually listened to what he was saying – and he was correct.

    This country has never gone to war with another nation unless it was for OIL. That’s what it’s always about, even WW2 – which was about Japan’s oil.

    This country was coerced into war time and again in order to make the American taxpayer venture capitalists and canon fodder for Big Oil, and for no other reason.

  11. Being anti-abortion in your personal and private life is fine. You’d be surprised to know NO ONE is “pro-abortion”. NO. ONE.

    I’ll do you one better: personally, as a Liberal and Democrat, I am anti-abortion and I have never and would never have one myself. But I will never, ever, curb another woman’s right to choose that painful option if and when she believes she should.

    However, the abortion issue is actually about a woman’s rights to choose what she wants to do with her own body. That choice should be left to the woman, her god/goddess, and her doctor, and no one else – especially not a man’s.

  12. Kyle was a psycho freak, an aberration who is in no way hero material. I have never known any combat vet to brag about his combat killings and certainly never heard a vet say he loved to kill people and missed killing people when returned to civilian life.

  13. Its one thing to kill, its another to take pride in it. After all, Eastwood is an nra asslicker.Eastwood served in the military – his job: Ft. Ord, Ca swim instructor and NCO bouncer. Thats clout. He never left ft. Ord during the Korean war. No war hero is Eastwood, no matter how much he wants to pretend.

  14. The ugly truth about “American Sniper”

    It’s not as apolitical as critics make it out to be. Clint Eastwood’s film offers a warped vision of Iraq and Islam

    As controversy rages over American Sniper, many supporters of the movie have suggested that it’s apolitical and shouldn’t be construed as supportive of war or bigotry; that it’s merely a character study of a tortured soldier. The problem with that analysis is that the film isn’t focused on a group of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or the difficulties with being reacquainted with civilian life, or the inadequacies of the Veterans Administration.

    The movie is about Chris Kyle, a remorseless sniper who said his job was “fun” and wished he could return to Iraq to fight even more, and who made millions of dollars and gained worldwide fame writing about his exploits.
    Read more

  15. As an ex-marine…we’re trained to do a job and take orders. Every war is a Just War, in the eyes of our government. Its not a Conservative or Liberal Ideology….its war! Please don’t put a spin on war, when our troops are dying.

  16. As a disabled veteran I understand what you are saying but as a civilian it is our duty to question the reasons why. If more people question the reason maybe our brothers wouldn’t have to suffer when they came back. Supporting the troops means more than a car magnet

  17. This is the second time Hraf has written and criticized Kyle and the film.This time, he’s WRONG! I read the book and watched the film, and what I saw in the film was a guy who decided to fight for his country after it was attacked and changed in ways only combat veterans could understand.
    Didn’t anyone pay attention, in the film, to the comment he made to his wife that no one in this country paid any attention to what was going on in Iraq!
    Iraq was wrong! Nam was wrong! But you can’t talk politics to a guy whose is trying to KILL you! Kyle changed as he went through his tours, and calling the enemy “savages” is what guys in uniform do IN A WAR! In Nam we called them “gooks” or “zipper heads”.
    The film didn’t glorify war, it showed how a guy went from human to killing machine, and how that was accomplished by going to WAR! He cared about his buddies and the guy next to him, that’s what the film was about!


    On May 22, 2003 the UN Security Council by a vote of 14-0 authorized that the US/UK led military occupation of Iraq was perfectly legal and just under international law. That means that any Iraqi or foreign insurgents attacking coalition forces trying to kill or injure them and drive them from Iraq were in violation of international law and were war criminals guilty of war crimes. How then could Chris Kyle fighting to protect legal coalition forces from illegal and criminal insurgents be a war criminal?

  19. Please walk the streets of Baghdad and hand out copies of your blogspot report to the parents and relatives of those killed during our occupation and ask them for their opinion.

    I’m sure they will be happy to know that it was all justified.

  20. It’s the story about a Christian terrorist committing crimes against humanity, set up and applauded as some kind of hero by Christofascist Republicans who hate everything the United States stands for. This Christian terrorist needs to be tried and executed for his crimes against humanity.

  21. Obama has made a mess of the entire Middle East. ISIS is already in the U.S. After 6 years of idiocy Obama decides he will fight ISIS. A bit late don’t you think.
    NOTHING Obama has done has improved or helped anyone/nation. He is a failure of epic proportions. Everything he has touched in the USA & nationally is a mess.
    This is what you get for electing Obama who was a community agitator for decades & “serving” in the senate for just 160 days. He is WAY over his head & those who he appoints are complete morons & liberals.

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