Iraqi sniper

We went to see American Sniper when it first came out and I would have written on it right at the time but there was something about it that remained suspended in mid-air that I couldn’t quite pull down. Today I discovered that Clint Eastwood had opposed both the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan (which I found out here in a really excellent take on the film). I now see the movie more clearly, and also see why it did not blow me away as I had been by Unbroken.

The movie is the Iraqi war without the politics. There are two sets of soldiers, each side fighting for the values it believes in. Chris Kyle, the American sniper, is matched by an Iraqi sniper who is equally committed to his own side, and is as patriotic as Kyle. There is no difference in bravery on the two sides. If anything separates them, it is technology. It is a patriotic film in the tradition of “my country, right or wrong”.

Except that it is Chris Kyle’s country that is right and not wrong, although that would not be the view of the soldiers on the other side, nor of the thousands of young Muslims going off from their homes to fight in the Middle East.

It is welcoming to see a film in which the bravery and honour of the American soldier is shown so clearly. And I have to assume that Kyle is more or less as he is portrayed, which is brave beyond any possibility of my ever understanding how someone can do what he did. And he is no more brave than the others who fight along side of him. But then he is no braver, either, than the Iraqis who attack him in numbers even though the American army is armed with technologies, such as armoured cars and helicopters, unavailable to their side.

What the film surprisingly did not do was dwell on why we are fighting this war, but perhaps that wasn’t its purpose. It did show 911, and it identified some barbarities by the Iraqis. But without the purpose, without an explanation about why the fighting is and was necessary, there was little in the film to make it clear why Chris Kyle and the others had been putting their lives on the line, and what difference it would make if we lost and pulled out. I, of course, bring this understanding along to the film on my own. I only wish there were more of it in the storyline. It seems that most Americans already understand the point which is why the film has broken box office records. But since the reason why this war is necessary never seems to get explained anywhere else, it’s a shame it was not more fully explained here. It is not a film designed to change anyone’s mind. The only marker for me is how much the left hates the film. It may therefore be a better film than I have been able to understand for myself.

The trailer, by the way, shows the opening sequence of the film. You will have to go yourself to see what happens next. As for the ratings, as per usual in a film like this, the audiences have liked it more than the critics.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 72% and Audiences 88%
IMDb: 7.6

American sniper, female division, goes to Congress

This is Joni Ernst’s reply to Obama’s State of the Union speech. It’s cornpone but effective. She is the newly elected Senator from Iowa and utterly Tea Party, Sarah Palin endorsed even. These are some rueful comments from The Washington Post:

By drawing on her uncommon, interesting personal story as an Iowa farmgirl and Army National Guard combat veteran, and relating to her fellow Iowans, Ernst captured one of the most reliably liberal Senate seats in the country — one that had been held by now-retired Democratic senator Tom Harkin for 30 years. While Ernst’s opponent ridiculed Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for being a farmer, Ernst embraced her roots and produced one of the most memorable, viral campaign ads of the 2014 cycle.

But even more than losing a critical Senate seat, Democrats are frightened by Ernst because she is a woman who has a strong conservative philosophy and message that appeals to a lot of people. Democrats can’t dismiss Ernst as a token, because she didn’t run as one. Everything about her biography and style blunts the Democrats’ usual criticisms of conservative women.

Now when Hillary Clinton comes to visit Iowa, rather than having a friendly liberal trial lawyer senator by her side, she will be bracketed by Ernst — who no doubt will hold Clinton’s feet to the fire. It will be a woman-to-woman matchup, so the Democrats’ usual pablum about a GOP “war on women” just won’t work.

It need hardly be mentioned that Obama’s speech was deceitful from end to end, or that the media will pick him up on none of it. But this was an effective reply, given the nature of the politics of the US at the present time.

AND BY THE WAY: I have just discovered the following about Chris Kyle, the actual American Sniper:

Kyle also served as the personal bodyguard for Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, at many points throughout her political career, including at the screening of Breitbart News Network Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon’s film about her political rise: “The Undefeated.”

If you really want to understand the political views of someone else, ask them about Sarah Palin. The most perfect political-moron detector I have yet discovered.