Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chris Kyle: A War Hero Who Did Not Fight For Our Freedom - A Brief Review

Much has been said about Chris Kyle and American Sniper.  Criticism and praise have run the gamut between calling him a mass murderer and a coward, to an American Hero who died fighting for our freedom.  Those who decry Kyle use his own words, and those who laud him do so with the jingoism of patriotism.  However, the truth is rarely at an extreme and this is an example.

Examples given of Kyle's words used to show he was a murderer who liked to kill Iraqis, include: calling them 'savages', that he'd 'like to shoot people with a Koran, though he doesn't', that he 'wished he had killed more' and that 'he didn't fight for and didn't care about the Iraqis.'  Let us put him in context, with the base of understanding that he was a soldier who was a member of an elite force [SEALs] and from that wanted to be active, as well as having a problem with bureaucracy in the government and military, as well as the press; Chris Kyle was also a staunch Christian.  Regarding the savages comment, he was not talking about all Iraqis but those militants who fought Americans and also other Iraqis (for example Iraqi 'Johnny Walker' was a teammate and esteemed highly by Kyle); about shooting people with a Koran, he was under investigation for an improper kill (of which he was cleared), but being kept out of a fight and protecting other American soldiers, he mocked the investigators, upper command and press for lambasting actions he took to defend fellow soldiers; as an American soldier, his first priority was to protect other soldiers.  Chris was a killer - that is what he was trained to do; however, he was not a murderer as murder brings with it a context that is incorrect for what Chris had done.  He was a soldier, a highly-trained warrior who enjoyed a good fight and killing 'bad guys' was part of that. 

At an even broader context, Iraq has a geographic boundary delineated by the British early 20th century; however, that boundary was put upon the people there who are not unified.  Iraq has an ethnic division of Arabs and Kurds (largest two), with religious divisions of Sunni and Shia Muslims (largest two).  With the ethnic and religious divisions, many of the people there consider the foreign delineated borders as a secondary concern to religious (and by extension, political) ties.  This division has claimed the lives and caused suffering of thousands yearly as those opposing factions battle each other.  In addition, as religion and ethnic ties are prepotent over country borderlines, members of religious sects cross those geographic borders to assist their religious brothers: they come from Iran, Syria, etc.  From the warring of people against others there, based upon animosity held over centuries, various groups were already inflicting great harm against one another.   Additionally, and especially with the more fundamentalist groups who push religiously-based laws upon the rest, many end up acting in ways that would be labeled 'savage', including stoning adulterers, beheading apostates, hanging gays and lashing rape victims, among other punishments.

This was the world into which the 'American Sniper' was sent - him, along with thousands of American soldiers who fought, killed and died in foreign lands.  It is a land of civil war on different levels.  With that, Chris Kyle did not fight for the freedom of Americans.  He served four tours as he earned his 160+ confirmed kills.  These kills were against people who were not engaged in a war against the United States; they were people who were engaged in a religious and civil war in their own lands.  The people fighting in those streets wanted to lay claim to the lands they lived on, but were not any imminent threat to cross the oceans to lay claim upon American soil.  The ones who are threats to American freedom were ones Chris Kyle had contempt for, but not the ones he actually fought.

As a soldier, shielded with his own religion, he was doubly-blind to the cause, though he had some semblance of an issue which if he removed those two blinds would have revealed to him the true threat to American freedom: politics and religion.  In his own words “The rules are drawn up by lawyers who are trying to protect the admirals and generals from the politicians; they’re not written by people who are worried about the guys on the ground getting shot."  Chris repeatedly chastised one commander he had that Chris considered a coward, refusing to send Chris and his team out on missions, and praised another commander who was a 'badass' (an estimable trait to Chris) and sent out the team on numerous missions; the cowardly commander was promoted, while the other was not.  Chris saw [others'] religious devotion causing harm upon the people, but didn't review his religious fervor.  He saw the attacks upon American citizens and soldiers, prompting him to want to 'fight the enemy' but didn't review that the same actions he was doing as well as the overall 'War on Terror' - directed by politicians - would be creating people like him, but on the other side.  Sure there were those who would be fulfilling his definition of 'savages', but how many were regular citizens who saw too many of their friends get killed, and decided to pick up a gun?-there isn't a way to verify that number.  'They hate us for our freedom' is a diversionary statement by politicians trying to sell us something, in the same vein that we were ferreting out weapons of mass destruction.

A final point regarding criticism toward him, and that is regarding 'just following orders' mentality, with comparisons to Nazi's killing of Jews and the like: there is a difference that makes the base not equal.  People should be free to follow the paths and systems they want; however, if the system by its nature does not allow freedom of people to choose, any free man may oppose it.  Nazi extermination of Jews for being Jews is not equivalent to American soldiers killing combatants for the goals of their organizations are different.  It is the difference between Charles Whitman's killing of 14 people and people killing Charles Whitman.  Free men have the right, though don't have the obligation, to find those who are violating another's rights and stop the aggression appropriately.  Regarding whether or not Chris and his fellow soldiers should have been in Iraq and elsewhere in the first place, that is a problem politicians created, and religionists entrenched.   

To conclude (as this is to be a brief review), Chris Kyle was a 'badass' and served his country proudly, but his uncritical review of his place in the war and what he was doing did not help protect our freedoms.  He was a war hero protecting his fellow soldiers and was conflicted when he wasn't with them  in action as he felt they were in harm's way without his overwatch.  But killing members of different factions in a civil war in another country is not an example of protecting American Freedom. 


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