First off, let me just say the movie is emotionally devastating. It is a very powerful movie – and very gritty. It is not at all for kids – or, indeed, for anyone who has trouble with not so much violence, as a thing, but the horrific reality of what counter-insurgency warfare is like.
The movie is not about a hero so much as it is about how a man – just an average man – deals with events which force him to be heroic. Bradley Cooper, as Chris Kyle, plays a sort of man I’ve known in my life. For one, the man who recruited me into the United States Navy; a Navy SEAL of Vietnam-era vintage. I’ve met a few others of the type over the years. Quiet, calm men who are dedicated to defending those who cannot defend themselves. You have to think about it for a moment when you’re with them – the knowledge that they know how to kill and will kill without hesitation if they believe it necessary. Men who are also, as depicted in the movie, pursued by what they have done long after it is over – the man who recruited me dealt with it by making a big joke out of life (I’ll never forget the gales of laughter he had while telling me the story of his father – trouble was, it was about how his father, a submariner in the Navy, was accidentally killed by a torpedo).
The story also gets into how the families of these men are forced to live in desperate fear of what will happen; how they still have to keep up a brave front to the world while they are worried sick; how when the warrior comes home, they are often dealing with a person who is at least partially broken by the terrible events endured.
But as I’ve pondered the movie over the last 24 hours, what has most struck me is that when we engage in war – when we send men like Chris Kyle out to do battle – then we’d better be in it to win it; and we should be doing it vastly different from how we’ve done it. You see, Chris Kyle’s job was to protect his fellow soldiers by using his sniper rifle to kill the enemy before the enemy could kill our troops. But in a counter-insurgency campaign, such a job means that the sniper will have to make snap decisions on who lives and dies…and then live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of his life. One thing I would now prefer for all time to come is that if we have to go to war, we don’t go into that particular kind of war.
You see, the enemy knows us – and knows our weakest point: our desire not to harm. In our desire to be nice (can’t think of a better word), I think we do a disservice to ourselves and, in the end, end up with more harm than we need. The sort of people we fight – and the sort of people we’ll always fight for the foreseeable future – are brutes. They care nothing for human lives. They deliberately hide themselves among civilians knowing that when we come to kill, we’ll kill at least some of the civilians and those dead – which are 100% the fault of the enemy – will be blamed on us. Mogadishu is the battle plan at all times – draw Americans into built up areas, set bombs and ambushes and just wait for civilians to be caught in the cross-fire. Chris Kyle dealt with that through four tours of duty. No more of that, as far as I’m concerned. If we must fight, we’re not to fight the way the enemy wants.
I would never agree to sending Americans into a house-to-house battle to clear out terrorists dug in among civilians. If we’re ever faced with something like Fallujah, again, then I say we just properly besiege the place, allow no one in or out, no food in, and just wait for them to starve into surrender. Yes, people will die. Yes, some of them will be civilians. But they won’t die because of cross fire between us and a barbaric enemy…and when the enemy does come out to stack arms, and he will because starvation will do that to you, the world will know and see that the enemy surrendered to us…coming out, hands in the air, into our prison camps. I’m tired of fighting the war the way the enemy wants. When we send the like of Chris Kyle into battle, I want them to win it all with an enemy begging for peace…not coming home after a nasty fight to deal with PTSD while idiots at home condemn them for fighting.
God rest your soul, Chris Kyle – and may God cast His blessings upon you and your fellow warriors.