RANGER AGAINST WAR <

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lt. General Snowden


 --General Snowden, before a plaque signed
and presented to him by the last Japanese Emperor
of the Empire of Japan (Hirohito) 

Strangers on this road, we are all
We are not two, we are one 
--Strangers, Golden Smog 
_______________________

We recently had the pleasure of meeting a hometown hero, Lt. General Lawrence "Larry" Snowden (R) who, at 93, is the senior survivor of the protracted and bloody World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, a climatic event of WW II in the Pacific lasting from 19 Feb 1945 - 26 Mar 45.

The General was wounded twice in the battle, leaving the hospital against medical advice and hopping a mail flight in order to get back to the island to command his men. He participated in eleven campaigns over the course of a career in which he saw action in three wars (WWII, Korea and Vietnam).

But Gen. Snowden is neither your typical military man nor retiree in a conservative part of the country.

Mr. Snowden traveled to Iwo Jima again last month, as he has every year for the last 15 years, to lead a "Reunion of Honor" with both his fellow survivors from the U.S. Marines well as the Japanese soldiers whom they fought. His mission is a solemn one of reconciliation with men who were once his mortal enemies but, as the widow of the Japanese commanding general said to him, "Once enemies, now friends."

As Snowden told a local journalist last year, "Those men didn't want to be here any more than we did. They were doing their duty. You don't hate anybody for that" (After 68 Years, the Battle of Iwo Jima Stays Fresh.)

When we asked how he reached this enlightened state, he smiled and gave his mother credit. He recalls being a pugilistic young man engaging in "fisticuffs" with his fellows and going on about "hating" someone. She told him that he didn't "know enough about anyone else to allow him to feel hatred," and that he could find another way of dealing with his anger. He got the idea then that the head could rule the emotions.

With recent attention to the concept of "moral injury" amongst soldiers, the idea of recognition, understanding and forgiveness between fighting men seems an essential move towards healing.

Snowden has commanded every level of combat units from Rifle Company to Regiment. As a General Officer he served as Chief of Staff HQ, USMC. His route to reconciliation began during the Korean War when he worked alongside his former Japanese adversaries while coordinating logistical efforts flowing through Japan destined for the Korean peninsular effort. It was his first recognition that men need not retain hostilities, and that life had an ebb and flow.

He next bumped up against the idea of reconciliation when  he returned to Japan in 1972 as Chief of Staff, U.S. Forces, Japan (A Joint Services Command.) During that three-year posting he liaised with the Japanese government, becoming familiar with and appreciative of Japanese society.

He left Japan for Washington D.C. in the final posting of his 37-year military career serving as Chief of Staff HQ, USMC.

Upon retirement he returned to Japan as a civilian representative for Hughes Aircraft, focusing on production and economic matters while living in Tokyo for the next ten years. He also served as the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

This is the backdrop to the genesis in 1985, the 40th Anniversary of Iwo Jima, of the idea for the Reunion of Honor. The General has been involved in annual event since that time. Notice there is nothing about warriorhood or grand patriotic celebration about the event. It is a somber recognition of men doing the heavy lifting for their respective nations.

A Buddhist priest who survived the fighting and the widow of the Japanese Commanding General, along with the General's son deliver a solemn presentation, then Snowden and his fellow survivors go up on Mount Suribachi; they then come down and the Japanese survivors go up.

"I make the same speech three times: in Los Angeles, in Honolulu and Guam. I tell everybody there will be no T-shirts, no hollering and victory celebration.. From the very beginning we have pledged that we would not ever, ever crow over our victory there. And we've never had any problems with that." So much for the Toby Kieth brand of patriotism.

 
 --Painting is a retirement gift commisssioned for General Snowden
by one of the riflemen he commanded on Iwo Jima

Ranger asked the General if he had seen the film, "American Sniper". He looked down and said his friends were always after him to see the latest war film, but that he usually demurred. "I have seen everything they could possibly put into one of those films, and I have no desire to see it ever again."

Semper Fi, Lt. Gen. Snowden.
_______________________


Coda: As we were leaving, Gen. Snowden received a call from the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame; he would be nominated as their newest inductee.

Has has Ranger's Army vote.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Inside the Crosshairs

 It's just murder. All God's creatures do it.
You look in the forests and you see species
killing other species, our species killing all species
 including the forests,
and we just call it industry, not murder 
--Natural Born Killers (1994) 

Will ye not cease from this harsh-sounding slaughter?
Do you not see that you are devouring one another
in the thoughtlesness of your minds?
--Empedocles 

There is no hunting like the hunting of man,
and those who have hunted armed men
long enough and liked it
never care for anything else thereafter
--Ernest Hemingway (Esquire) 
_____________________

Since snipers are having their day in the sun, Ranger decided to re-visit the book, Inside the Crosshairs: Snipers in Vietnam by military historian Lee Lanning.

Since today's sniper darling Chris Kyle fairly loathed his targets, here is a representative passage from this book contradicting the idea that hatred is a military value and that snipers are stone cold killers. Lanning quotes Captain Jim Land, who formed the first Marine Division sniper school, explaining the qualities a sniper must possess:

"Honor on the battlefield is the sniper's ethic. he shows it by the standards and discipline with which he lives life in combat. By the decency he shows his comrades. And by the rules he adheres to when meeting the enemy.

"The sniper does not hate the enemy," Land continued, "he respects him or her as a quarry. Psychologically, the only motives that will sustain the sniper is the knowledge that he is doing a necessary job and the confidence that he is the best person to do it. On the battlefield, hate will destroy any man -- and a sniper quicker than most."

An implied sub-story in the movie "American Sniper" suggested there was a bounty offered for the killing of snipers, a sort of head-hunting among their kind, in particular between Kyle and his Iraqi nemesis. In Vietnam also there were urban myths that the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong offered bounties on snipers, but Lanning says there is no hard evidence to prove this claim.

The overlay is a romantic notion of mano-a-mano combat which is not the truth of today's institutionalized warfare. Perhaps it was also an attempt to re-humanize Kyle as someone being hunted down personally, and fighting for his life. The director Eastwood may have had in mind a more metaphorical flight for Kyle, but if so this was never expounded upon, and the audience received yet  another uni-dimensional warrior stereotype.

(As an aside, Lanning and Ranger were classmates in Infantry Officer Basic Course (IOBC) in 1968, and last crossed paths in the 90th Replacement Battalion in Long Binh RVN in April 1970. Lee was headed back to the United States while I was an incoming replacement; we were both 1st Lieutenants at the time.)

Inside the Crosshairs is an interesting and dispassionate study of the efficacy of U.S. snipers in Vietnam by considering both their materiel and how they integrated the traditions of centuries of expert shooters that came before them.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Useful Idiots




Peace and love is here to stay and
Now I can wake up and face the day 
 --Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment, 
The Ramones

So, c'mon you Moslems and you Jews
We got big news for all of yous
You better change your point of views today
'Cause the Inquistion's here and it's here to stay 
--The Inquisition,
Mel Brooks

 (T)he main emphasis of the KGB is ideological subversion,
or psychological warfare.
What it basically means is: to change the perception
of reality of every American that despite
of the abundance of information
no one is able to come to sensible conclusions
in the interest of defending
themselves, their families, their community, and their country
--Yuri Bezmenov

__________________

I wonder how the mainstream media continues to peddle its lies. Are people just naive, gullible, uninformed, lazy, prejudiced? Maybe the whole lot.

In the 3.18.15 New York Times, token Jewish liberal shill Op-Ed columnist Thomas ("Friedman Unit") Friedman's post links Israel, Iran and ISIS as being all entities that offer the United States "only bad choices":




OP-ED COLUMNIST

Go Ahead, Ruin My Day

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

In looking at Israel, Iran and ISIS, why does it seem as though we have only bad choices, and nothing ever works?

Why do few Democrats wish to recognizes Israel as the U.S.'s only solid Western ally in the sump that is the Middle East? If they are a problem, it is only to the radicalized Palestinians who continue to have no honest broker but not to us.

Today, the same paper suggests that President Obama may be unable to deal with Israel's newly-elected Prime Minister Netanyahu and may have to carry out an future communications via a mediator, as though P.M. Netanyahu is incapable of talking to a Western leader. The reason for the acrimony is not mentioned: the fact that our President refused to meet this leader of a sovereign nation on two separate visits to our country -- unheard of behavior.

Yet the U.S. routinely deals with the leaders of our "friends" like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc., dictators who routinely oppress and murder their own Western-leaning dissidents. (In the same 3.18 paper was a piece on a policeman who is being tried in Egypt for the murder of an outspoken female poet  -- Egypt to Charge Officer in Killing of Shaimaa el-Sabbagh.)

For that matter, the U.S. had cordial relations with both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi, late leaders of Iraq and Libya, respectively. Friendly, that is, until they were no longer useful. All U.S. Presidents have glad-handed those we later called "monsters" and tossed to the dogs.

The Shiites are killing Sunnis in mass numbers now that the lid is off the pressure cooker, and we don't seem too bothered by this; at least, not bothered enough to cease communication with the "elected" leaders of these countries.

As though it were a news flash, Slate reports "a new report from Human Rights Watch details serious abuses by the U.S.-supported, pro-government Iraqi Shiite militias fighting ISIS" (Are America’s Allies Committing Ethnic Cleansing in the Fight Against ISIS?). Shocked, in a very Captain Renault sort of way.

KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov saw a parallel to the USSR in the way our leaders, educational institutions and the media were shaping our nation's mindset. We behaved like Bezmenov's useful idiots when we swaggered into Iraq, deposing the strongman needed to hold these roiling entities together. Then the inhabitants came after each other and us, and we act surprised.

We continue to be idiots when always for the underdog and not for our obvious ally. Idiots when we are always for change in the M.E., imagining that these newly-sprung people will yearn for a Western lifestyle like that enjoyed in the U.S. or Israel. We refuse to see the facts because we have an inculcated guilt to overcome.

In this case, we think if we favor the Palestinians over the Israelis, they will not turn their aggression upon us, but where is the logic? Why favor an unknown quantity over a known one? Nations have interests -- not friends -- and it is in the U.S.'s interest to maintain an alliance with any reliable partner in the M.E, for there are not many.

Friedman's piece goes so far as to suggest that the U.S. arm ISIS. While he agrees they're pretty repugnant, he argues that it is in our best interests. A sad coda to the misbegotten group-think many in the U.S. shared regarding M.E. violence as ushering in some sort of "Arab Spring".

Moreover, why do we care to continue hitting our heads against the wall? How does this focus help us along?

It's Sociology 101: You help the underdog, he's not going to lick your feet because you've uncovered the fact that he is an underdog (via the need for your assistance.) The only way to save face is to attack back. It's not very appreciative, but there it is.

When the U.S. was dealing in slavery and liquidation of its Native American population, other sovereigns did not withhold negotiating with the U.S. We found our way. Israel is less than 70 years old, and it is trying to find a path to existence against a sworn enemy within in its borders which has as its stated mission the non-recognition and extermination of said country. It is not a hard row to hoe; it is a row that refuses to be hoed.

Why don't people see this hypocrisy? Maybe we just want something easy around which to glom on with our fellows, or distract us, or to Tweet about.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mission and Objective

 
--War, Agony in Death, Hans Burkhardt (1939)

 Chaos, control. Chaos, control. 
You like, you like? 
--Six Degrees of Separation (1993) 

Sometimes you're better off dead 
There's gun in your hand and it's pointing at your head
You think you're mad, too unstable
Kicking in chairs and knocking down tables 
--West End Girls, Pet Shop Boys

War is the spectacular and bloody projection
of our everyday life, is it not?
--Think on These Things,
J. Krishnamurti
_____________________

The terms "mission" and "objective" are easily confused, especially since the military uses them interchangeably. But they are different words, y'know, with different meanings.

The common reaction to the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East is emotional and unfocused. If the United States intervenes with a greater military air campaign, then this would be the mission. However, the objective of the mission remains unstated.

Since 1898 the U.S. has used violence in the objective of winning wars. Today, we have substituted generalized violence as an objective, sans mission. We use violence and bombs to force our will upon the enemy, but the bombing campaign has no significance or national purpose without a quantifiable and reasonable objective.

Today violence is both mission and objective, sans any achievable and delineated objective. However, reactive vindictiveness is neither a military concept nor an objective.

Assuming that following the bombing campaign these countries roll over -- then what? Have we not learned in 120 years that, while violence can force people to bend to our will, the effect is always short-lived? Violence does not necessarily produce long-term stability (unless that is a desire of the subdued people.) So is the resultant temporary cessation of violence worth the outlay (in manpower, lives and money)?

If U.S. national policy now relies on bombing campaigns, that is somewhat akin to using assassination as a political tool. Without a plan, we have become the violence, and are merely a participant in the relentless destruction. 

We live in a violent and troubled world, and should ask how our actions are helping to mitigate or contribute that violence.

Violence is a dead-end unless a greater good is the mission.

[NOTE: Neither we nor Krishnamurti are saying "the West is to blame for all of this." The burden of the violence within is harbored by all. The only difference is in the outward wealth accumulated by the players.]

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Lowest Common Denominator

 I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free 
--Proud to Be an American,
Lee Greenwood

 Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings 
--Let America be America Again,
 Langston Hughes
_______________________
What makes us Americans?

Ranger suggests the lowest common denominator is that we are all immigrants who left "The Old Country" behind when we headed for the United States. That goes for all of us, from descendants of the Green Mountain Boys to today's first generations.

Our grandparents left Europe to escape the wars that characterized the empires which ruled Western civilization. They left everything behind to escape the dissolution and ennui wrought by the wars of empire. 

So what has happened in this great nation of hope since 1914? The United States has involved itself in the wars of Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia and untold other zones. As of 2012, the U.S. had a military presence in almost 80% of the world's nations.

Our history since 1914 has been one of aligning and realigning with empires across the globe. in 2015 the U.S. is involved with Iran, North Korea, Russia and Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, et al. -- and to what purpose? Is the U.S. destined to destroy itself through continual war, as did the empires of Europe?

We need to determine what we will leave behind, and what is necessary to keep for our future welfare. Ranger's family left Slovakia and he does not think that either NATO or the United States should fight any war on behalf of the Slovaks, just as they should not for Ukraine or any other national entity.

The Slovaks are no longer his concern, nor should they or any other aforementioned nation be the concern of U.S. military policy.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Not an Emo Boy

 Interesting. You Earth people glorify organized violence
for 40 centuries, but you imprison those
who employ it privately
--Mr. Spock

 Dispassionate, objective reasoning was Spock’s core.
Honing our skills to think, as opposed to emote
 is crucial to good decision-making.
--Lessons Learned from Mr. Spock,
Judge Michael Warren   

The Strength of a civilization is not measured
by its ability to fight wars,
but rather by its ability to prevent them
--Gene Roddenberry
___________________

Actor Leonard Nimoy has taken the Big Beam Up to the Sky, but his Star Trek character Spock remains a compelling indictment of human foibles. The unshakable logic he represented is a quaint depiction of a man that never was.

Spock hailed from the Vulcan race which placed the highest value on reason unfettered by emotionalism. (His mother was human, however, which was his Achilles heel.) Vulcans chose that path to fend off a potential racial holocaust due to their previous hyperemotionalism. Spock's logic tempered Captain Kirk's sometimes hotheaded reactivity, and it was these two poles around which most of the plotlines revolved.

Ranger sees an analogy to early 21st century American martial conduct. Almost a century after World War I -- The War to End All Wars -- we still follow the same reactive and emotional policies that brought the United States into that highly emotional powder keg.

From a crazy Yugoslav to crazy Islamists (or, anarchical, if you prefer), we still bring out the big guns as the meet reaction to most hostilities. What else would Homo sapiens do, being the warlike toolmakers that we are?

Star Trek developer Gene Roddenberry offered a searing indictment of a nation mired in the mud of Southeast Asia with his outer space fantasy featuring the "Starship Enterprise" on a mission to find amenable life forms among the galaxies with whom to forge a peaceable federation. "To boldly go where no man had gone before" (the most famous split infinitive in television.) But like President Wilson's League of Nations, this was a camaraderie that was beyond earthling's capabilities.

If Spock could rule the world, it's a fair bet he would eschew both the magical feel-good hope-and-change rhetoric of our leaders as well as the fear and hatred which serves as its balance.

Perhaps our battle cry should be, "WWSD" ("What Would Spock Do?")

[A friend sent this interesting clip of Nimoy explaining the source of his famous "live long and prosper" hand gesture. It was intended as a gesture of fraternity from a being with an otherwise inscrutable visage --L.]

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Friday, March 13, 2015

The First of the Boomers

 Urge and urge and urge, 
Always the procreant urge of the world 
--Song of Myself, 
Walt Whitman 

I'm glad it's your birthday 
Happy birthday to you
 --Happy Birthday, 
John Lennon 

It's a boy, Mrs. Walker, it's a boy!
A son! A son! A son! 
--Captain Walker, The Who 

Some are born
Some men die
Beneath one infinite sky
There'll be war
There'll be peace
But everything one day will cease 
--Childhood's End,
Pink Floyd
 ___________________

This is Ranger's 69th birthday essay.

On 15 June 1945 his father Stephen signed out on 9 days of leave (ending 24 June.) The USS Chatelaine (DE149) was pulled into a naval shipyard for repairs following years of wartime combat patrols and operations. This was required as the DD149 was home from the European War and heading off to the Pacific to finish the Japanese campaign.

Just prior, the USS Davis was sunk (9 Apr 1945) by a German submarine, resulting in the deaths of 115 United States Sailors. It was the luck of the draw that took the Davis rather than the Chatelaine that day.

This visit with his mother was a seminal Baby Boomer moment, as it planted the germ that was to become the Ranger you know and love today.

Ranger celebrates the day humbly, recognizing the fragility of life and the game of chance in which we all roll the dice. His father's mother lost a husband in 1914, my father served in World War II and I, in Vietnam, so Ranger is a war baby in two senses of the word, both temporally and filially.

He celebrates his birthday for all of those who are no longer with us. Here's to the War Babies.

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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Lower Than a Flea on a Camel's Knee



  Now I'm ready to feel your hands
Lose my heart on the burning sand
Now I want to be your dog 
--I Wanna Be Your Dog,
Iggy Pop

My baby makes me proud
Lord, don't she make me proud
She never makes a scene
By hanging all over me in a crowd
--Behind Closed Doors, 
Charlie Rich

Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant 
--High Hopes, 
Frank Sinatra
_______________________

Did anyone else hear Diane Rehm's recent NPR broadcast with the "First Lady of Afghanistan," Rula Ghani? What an amazing bit of piffle and administration propaganda.

The NPR website even  misrepresents the role Ms. Ghani herself said she plays (or rather, doesn't): "She is running an office in the presidential palace and is working to shape the troubled country’s future." Well, no, not actually.

Mrs. Ghani was not going to have modernity thrust upon her in the public sphere ("na ga da", as George Bush père might've said.) It just wouldn't have done for her to be seen as anything approaching an equal to her husband.

Mrs. Ghani has the honor of having perhaps the second shortest Wikipedia page. ("First Lady of Afghanistan" returns the only shorter entry.) But it does confirm that she earned her master's degree from the American University of Beirut (where she met her husband), and another master's from New York's Columbia University. Her education, the fact that she is Lebanese and holds dual Lebanese-American citizenship are not bragging points for her.

It all suggests that her husband, Mr. Ghani, is a happy State-installee whose days on his country's throne are numbered. But she did yeoman's duty playing everything down in her interview. Her journalism masters served her well, and Diane was no match.

Ms. Rehm broadcasts from inside the beltway, and while not a terrible incisive interviewer, she is reliably non-threatening and toes the administration's line. Perhaps Mrs. Rehm secured the interview because she was born to Syrian parents, and someone thought the two might have have had some common ground.

But Mrs. Ghani made it clear she was not a sistuh to Diane, and rarely has Ms. Rehm been a more obvious shill for the State Department. Mrs. Ghani held her corner.

When Rehm pressed her about her activities, Ghani said she spent the first two years of her husband's regime ensconced in the official palace watching videos and reading books. She said she got bored, and found a "little room" for herself where she would entertain a nominal number of groups each week.

Ghani emphasized she met with no one personally -- one-on-one, preserving her deferential role as a women in her society not accorded such privileges lest she be accused of impropriety. She also said she accomplished little, emphasizing what a slow "process" everything was. "Nothing here is going to change fast," she said, basically.

Mrs. Ghani understands the need for her to retain her self-subjugation, even if this is a construction to allow for her husband's continuance in his leadership position. She was not going to be bullied by Rehm into some sort of dominance or parity which her country and her life will not allow her to assume. Life in a palace is pretty plush -- not something to be trifled with or risk losing foolishly.

And if Mrs. Ghani is afraid to be seen as little more than her husband's mirror, how much less is the average Afgani woman allowed?

Undeterred, Rehm would loudly describe Ghani as the "First Lady" at every program break, and her guest's unease was palpable by her exasperated laugh. "Please, Diane, I am the President's wife. I take no role in politics."

"I have a little room. I never see visitors individually; always and only groups." I am kindly permitted this diversion.  I am lower than a flea on a camel's knee -- do you understand?

As Mrs. Ghani was trying to make herself very small, like Alice in Wonderland, Rehm attempted to impose a stature Ghani would not claim. She asked her to confirm that the Afghan President -- her husband -- did in fact recognize her as his wife in his acceptance speech. She allowed that he did, and that it was a nice gesture. But you could tell she wanted to interject: "But he also has a nice stable of Arabian horses, too, and Mercedes and Audis."

When pressed by Rehm to name anything she might be proud of, Ghani spoke of some school textbook publishing issue, a matter of some teachers explaining that the textbook publishers were not always issuing correctly translated texts and that she was working on the issue, though emphasizing she would not be directly responsible for any implementation of new policy. Hardly a matter of pressing social import even if Ghani were to have assumed some praise for it.

Diane Ream imposed a faulty representation of Afghan's "First Lady", which sounds like it holds as much sway as being "first donkey". Rehm's agenda was to promote Mrs. Ghani as a harbinger of women's right in Afghanistan, but the truth lies a good piece away.

Such is the news from inside the Beltway.

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Saturday, March 07, 2015

The Last Martyr


 One man's heaven is another man's hell
One man's buy is another man's sell
One man's day is another man's night
One man's peace is another one's fight 
--Two Sides to Every Story,
Joe Walsh  

She could never be a saint,
but she thought she could be a martyr
if they killed her quick 
--Flannery O'Connor

And it repented the Lord
that he had made man on the earth,
and it grieved him at his heart
--Genesis 6:6
________________________


A Clarification on the previous post, You're All In or You're Not:


While death, killing and dying are central issues in both Islam and Christianity (and Clint Eastwood movies and lots of other things) religions accord their own values to them. This is my view on the differences between the current two players, and why this is essential to their play of war.

Before proceeding, yes, this a military blog and most interest surrounds the "wars" qua war; the Phoney Wars on Terror (PWOT ©), in particular. But since tanks are driven and mortars lobbed by men, it seems fair to go to the human ground when considering war, despite the Department of Defense types who see the whole thing within the confines of their operational maps

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but whereas the United States has a secular Army composed of members hewing to a variety or religious beliefs or none at all, the Islamic State (IS) fighters are one thing: Sunni Muslims. (This is not a logical fallacy. I am not stating all Muslims are IS sympathizers, but simply all IS members are Muslims. ) When they complete a mission, they are always reported as hailing their god, "Allahu Akhbar!"

For those who wish to displace religion from its foundational position motivating most of the Islamic attacks in the past 35+ years, I would suggest that is a mistake. My position is to neither denigrate nor praise any particular religion, only to recognize a foundational belief driving today's hostilities.

Christianity worships a meek prophet, Jesus, who according to the dogma martyred himself so that others may live (John 10:10). Looking at the the Eucharist, what could it mean when Jesus insists that his followers will actually be eating his flesh and blood when they partake of the ritual?

One understanding might be that, beginning from the premise that man is fallen and therefore all are killers and betrayers and every other bad thing that humans are capable of, through the grisly Eucharist man is made to re-enact his responsibility for his murderous impulse each time.

The believer must face his failures in a very real way, by ingesting Him and therefore integrating His faultlessness into his being, perhaps analogous to a pluripotent stem cell injection. Ergo, every Eucharist is the drama of death and Resurrection, writ small (the Resurrection being the continuance of the life in the believer who has partaken of the meal.) Whether that is a precise analysis of His intention (who can know?) one point is clear: Jesus intends to be the last and ultimate martyr.

He will redeem man so that he need not continue carrying out his petty part (though it hasn't quite worked out that way.) Despite man's continued bad behavior, Jesus's death is memorialized at most services. No more sacrificial lambs, no more Crucifixion, no more martyrdom.

Jesus is known as the "Prince of Peace" and the "Lamb of God". This stands diametrically opposite to the warrior Mohammed, who does not preach love of one's brother. In fact, this is a tightly fraternal religion and its members are charged with killing the infidel, who in fact, may just be a member of another sect of Islam (Shi'ia).

To say this interpretation of Sharia is extremism is like calling the Catholic, who believes he is consuming the body and blood of Christ, misbegotten. In fact, they are both faithful adherents.

Followers of Christianity may not have gotten the brotherhood message correct for several centuries, and gross numbers committed grave crimes under cover of their God. Many still do not understand the message of the religion they would claim. But the message is naught but love, and especially, love the stranger.

However, for the Muslims warring today, for those who fight behind the aegis of their prophet Mohammed, they are not misunderstand their doctrine, they are fulfilling it. It is not for them the self-immolation of the Hindu or the Buddhist. There are no Gandhis.

Maybe someone should have done a cultural study prior to invasion and occupation. Some liberals might have stopped insisting what a peaceful religion Islam is.

Of course, it can be expected that anyone will fight against the colonizer, as the French and later the Americans saw in Vietnam. But in Iraq, we were two-down, for not only were we the unwelcome invaders, but the people had been seething at least since they were thrown together into that great confabulation called Iraq last century. We simply unleashed the controls on all of that anger.

Time to say, "We can't do this anymore. We are aiding and abetting the violence by our very presence. Sorry, gotta go." Yes, it's shabby, but who hasn't the U.S. betrayed at one time or another? That's realpolitik, baby.

Or we can continue with the showdown at the Apocalypto Corral, and give the talking heads more daily predictable fodder. And give you something predictable to view when you flip on the news, and a sound byte for when you want to have a little banter with business partners on world matters.

I write on a military blog, and I'm getting bored with this.

Are you getting bored?

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

You're All In or You're Not

 --Ceci n'est pas une pomme 
  (This is not an apple), 
Rene Magritte   

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, 
the word "snapshot" was originally a hunting term 
 --One Hour Photo (2002)

Can we film the operation?
Is the head dead yet?
You know the boys in the newsroom
got a running bet 
--Dirty Laundry, Don Henley 

--It’s strange that we’ve never
 read of this in the newspapers

--Well… that’s newspapers for you, ma’am.
You could fill volumes with
what you don’t read in them 
--The Green Berets (1968)
 ___________________

Subtitle: This is not a Muslim. 

"The Islamic State is not really Islamic" -- perhaps one of President Obama's most disingenuous recent statements. Perhaps they remind him more of Urantians?

Now that's like saying a Dodge Ram pickup is really a Toyota, or a cherry cheesecake is actually a rhubarb pie. Is it blasphemy, a lie, or a massive denial? Perhaps cognitive dissonance of the highest level, or just the canniness of a politician seeking to curry favor with the less animated members of that one-billion strong religion?

Of course it is Islamic, as Islamic as Islamic can get. It's just that most Muslims practice a form of Muslim Lite, like cafeteria Catholics who haven't the stomach for transubstantiation, a doctrine which explains the transformation of the bread and wine of the Eucharist into the body and blood of Jesus.

Religions in general serve as primers on how to live a good life, and they are founded by crusaders with an agenda, some more benign and ecumenical than others, their words often warped by their inheritors. They basically tend to man's basic needs and they all have their quirks, but if you're a believer you cleave to The Word, regardless of those seeming hiccups.

For the Catholic, The Word is that you are eating His flesh and drinking His blood in the rite of the Eucharist. It is cannibalism, but by invitation (sort of like the Germans in the recent press who had placed classified adverts requesting to be eaten, like a nice sushi.) Christopher Hitchens deconstructed the idea of belief completely. The dogma is clear and if you reject any of it, you are a hypocrite at best. But hey, religion (and the world) is full of them.


Likewise, if one is a true believer in the prophet Mohammed, one believes that infidels (= those of other religions) should be killed. It is all there, in their Good Book, the Koran. It's not a very happy (for non-Muslims) or modern concept, but for those feeling nostalgic or who have never entered modernity, it is spot-on and clear as day.

Just as the Christian crusaders fought both for belief and booty, so too the thoroughly modern Muslim crusader. To have a caliphate of your own is a pretty fine thing, after all.

Our misbegotten wars have served to animate vast swaths of often unemployed usually young people disenfranchised in their own countries, subjected to the brutalities and insults of an invading and occupying Army. Some people come to God when their back is against the wall -- it is the last comfort of and the last depot for the desperate.

These desperadoes are finding common ground with the True Believers (always a much smaller minority.) They yearn to live in their own "ownership society" (as President George W. Bush encouraged us to do) and regain a state of grace and dignity (regardless of how undignified their methods might appear to us.)

And being salacious Westerners in bondage to easy and gory visuals we give them incessant free press, providing them with the most valuable asset they possess: the ability to spread fear beyond the discrete beheading or other vulgar murder. We are aiding and abetting the criminal/terrorist, wittingly or not. Do we acknowledge our role in the crimes we behold?

We are like Yuri Bezmenov's demoralized useful idiots. But to what end?

Waging jihad is every bit as faithful to doctrine as the flesh and blood consumption of the believing Catholic. What right have we to dismiss or deny the validity of these doctrinal beliefs to the adherent? But to deny these realities is not to do justice to the facts.

If indeed the slashers and hackers and beheaders are the rare breed, why are we proliferating their self-aggrandizing videos? Shouldn't the goal be to minimize that message while elevating anything opposed to it?

Have I missed anything?

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Modest Proposal

 --this table is not really for sale

I'm looking out for the two of us
And I hope we'll be here
When they're through with us

--Long, Long Way from Home,
Foreigner

For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;
he will not forsake thee
--Deuteronomy 4:31
 ________________________

Subtitle: For want of a table.

The trial of Eddie Lee Routh, shooter of American Sniper Chris Kyle, concluded recently with a "guilty" verdict. Sentence: Life, with no possibility of parole. “We’ve waited two years for God to get justice for us on behalf of our son,” Judy Littlefield, Chad Littlefield’s mother, told reporters after the verdict. “And as always, God has proven to be faithful.”

Littlefield's's brother piled on, calling out in the courtroom that Routh was an "American embarrassment" -- the loser, to Kyle's feted heroism.

The NYT reported, "After serving in the Marines, Mr. Routh received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis, and relatives testified that he had been suicidal and paranoid in the months before the shooting."

Surely there is nothing commendable in Routh's actions, but did he get fair consideration? He had been recently released from a Veterans Administration healthcare facility where it is reported he was taking nine different medications including Risperdal, a drug for schizophrenia -- the devil's drug if ever there was one.

Routh is reported to have told authorities that he knew "right from wrong," but he also said evil strode the earth and that he needed to do more killing.

The prosecuting attorney said that Routh could not suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as "he lacked the 'T'". Routh, a former Marine, worked behind enemy lines in a protected zone. Because he was not a shooter, the reasoning goes, he could not have PTSD. While understood that Marines aren't supposed to show anything that smacks of weakness, I feel traumatized when passing a television broadcasting violence such as he program "The Walking Dead", so perhaps trauma need not come from the muzzle of a gun.

On his way to the shooting range on the day of his killing, Kyle texted Little field that Routh was "straight-up nuts." What sort of discernment does it show to tote such a person to a live fire exercise? What was Routh's mental condition upon entering and exiting the Marine Corps? What was his diagnosis at the VA hospital? One does not just develop schizophrenia, one is born with it. Are the pickings for today's volunteer Army that slim?

If Routh's sister and mother had already reported they were afraid of him, how did Routh get on the roster for Kyle's non-profit shooting rehab program?

When we send troops to fight we know many will return suffering reintegration issues, so why is their trip home so piecemeal? Why are there mostly shooting and hunting and extreme sports type of programs for these returning veterans? Why not something like a VA creative arts campus where rehabilitation could be effected via artistic construction?

Something which allows the soldier to give voice to or transform his angst would seem a more constructive outlet. The gun is a mute tool which can only explode and cause damage. With this veteran population, the damage needs to be mitigated.

 --this one's not for sale, either

Eleanor Roosevelt developed a similar program to what we are suggesting at her Val-Kill campus in upstate New York to teach furniture making and various crafts to the unemployed of the Depression era. Why not a WPA-type program for those veterans more inclined to the visual or language arts? Why must vets poke around willy-nilly in the hopes of stumbling upon a vet-friendly program on a college campus, or something like the Combat Papermaking Project?

Why not a Veterans Administration initiative creating a woodworking campus in North Carolina, to re-create the once thriving and quality American furniture-making tradition? It's not an unreasonable thought to impart a marketable skill to a returning contingent; why should creativity be so hard?

In the past weeks I have unsuccessfully attempted to source a small, well-made small table from several outlets. The company All Modern has featured a stylish 28" square model on both the NYT and Slate's homepage, but when contacted the company admitted they did not carry the table (they would be happy to sell you the stools at $325 a pop, however.)

Next was a rustic cross-leg model featured in the recent Grandin Road catalog. No go, as it was "privately-owned" and the company explained they sometimes featured private items which complemented their stock. They admitted several people had inquired of the table before me. Why can't we get nice, American-made things if one cannot afford a bespoke item or make it oneself?

If we were an optimally-functioning society, we would take up John McCain's idea of two years of mandatory post-secondary school service in an area of one's choosing. Americorps/VISTA or Peace Corps would be as valid as joining the armed forces. Of course, the "S" word (socialism) is verboten in the United States and war is our racket, so young people must join the Armed Forces to earn their educational benefits, even if being an artist is ultimately what the soldier wishes to pursue.

But why risk the medical damage which will have to be treated on the taxpayer's dime if the enlistee would actually have preferred another line of service in the first place?

Apprenticing would be recognized as the legitimate good that it is, and needful work could be undertaken both for the good of society and of the individual. PTSD could be bypassed, and lots of meds could not be prescribed. Of course, everything is political, and following Clinton's administration his civic improvement program, AmeriCorps, was soon gutted.

Mrs. Littlefield was "elated" that Mr. Routh will be locked away for life, but is she elated that her tax dollars will be housing and feeding him for the rest of his days which will be spent doing nothing of benefit to his society? Will anything good come of this incarceration? Will he be a lesson to anybody?

Unlikely, as all sane people know that murder entails a prison sentence.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Primer Therapy


 ~We gotta play with more bullets
~How many more bullets?
~Three. That means we gotta play each other 
--The Deerhunter (1978)

 Some day you'll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you'll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms 
--Brothers in Arms,
Dire Straights 

 She went to Berkeley, did primal therapy
She wrote the music for a series on the TV
She studied Rumi and Ibn'Arabi
She meditated every summer in a teepee
--The Girl's Got no Confidence,
 Gerry Rafferty
_____________________

So that we would feel good about the protagonist of the film American Sniper, Chris Kyle's killing back home by a brother in arms on the shooting range was omitted from Eastwood's film. However, Kyle's killing is perhaps the most poignant part of his story.

At Eddie Ray Routh's trial last week, his father testified that he had smoked dope with his son earlier in the day of the killing; it seems that the participants in Kyle's non-profit veterans program were not observing good range etiquette. Perhaps the only requirements for participation were having worn BDU's and knowing how to fire a weapon, and having some vague need for rehabilitation.

And what was Kyle's qualification to run this wounded warrior non-profit? Why are there so many shooting therapies for returning veterans? It seems like every town has one. Some are run by well-meaning people while others are strictly cash cows, but what does putting a gun into the hands of a traumatized soldier do for him aside from validating his skill in the killing arts?

Ranger can guarantee you there was no shooting therapy for him and his fellow Vietnam veterans. The American public did not seem to think that would have been a great idea.

The questions is simple: If shooting caused the trauma, why would shooting be a fix? Yes, it will reinforce a sense of expertise, but in a destructive skill. Going a step further, shooting is a skill which was exploited by and for governments, leaving the soldier to cope with the trauma earned via his expertise.

The zeitgeist of the time affects public attitude. In the late 1960's, National Guard riflemen opened fire on United States citizens who were exercising their 1st Amendment Rights, and the public distrusted the image of the returning drug-addled, alienated Vietnam vet. Even the most highly-decorated ones might go Rambo on them (the character "Rambo" was a Vietnam veteran Medal of Honor recipient.)

Then, the threat for the average American was not the small yellow people oceans away. When the U.S. left, they did not follow in vendetta. The Vietnamese who did come to the United States hoped to relocate peaceably here.

Today, the threat is vague, ambiguous, terrifying and omnipresent, and the media is complicit in forefronting it. In a commonly held view, when the U.S. failed to retaliate for the 1979 Iranian Embassy takeover a cascade of various Islamic extremist attack scenarios against the United States and its citizens followed, culminating in the second attacks on the World Trade Center (2001). The threat came to get us, having been heartened by their success against a nation which seemed to have lost its heart for the fight.

Post 9-11-01, the U.S. is more sensitive to acts of Islamic violence worldwide. Despite the fact that our society has grown more violent in terms of random indigenous shooting events, arming the "right" citizens does not seem as scary as it once did. Our society seems to be growing more tolerant of even open carry laws, presuming that the licensed gun bearer is not the source of mayhem and his vigilance might provide a mayhem deterrent quotient.

"Shooting therapy" makes sense in such a climate. Of course, the gun will not protect us from the threat, which is random acts of terrorism.

Today's veterans seem a more known quantity as they are self-selected and presumably do not hold the grudges of the draftees. Enter Mr. Routh -- the troubled combat vet on trial now for Kyle's killing. Routh said he shot Kyle because he felt he was not being listened to and felt marginalized, perhaps exploited yet again, this time as just another screwed up vet being used by a non-profit to justify its existence.

All the facts will not be known as the two witnesses are now dead, but if Routh felt as though he was not being listened to, perhaps a different sort of therapy might have been more appropriate. Why not something like "Non Violent Communication" (NVC), which fosters empathetic listening and communication skills?

Now Ranger loves guns and shooting, but shooting guns is not the therapy of choice for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In fact, it is not until the PTSD is resolved that any of the former pleasures can be enjoyed again with the proper gusto. Ranger has some training in counseling education and never encountered vocational rehabilitation for combat trauma that involved rifle range activities.

What qualified Kyle to counsel troubled veterans with the tool of the gun? Was anyone involved with his non-profit credentialed to provide counseling services?

We should be wary of how we counsel fragile and fractured vets. Putting them on the firing line is counter-intuitive; why resurrect traumatic memories to no useful purpose? While there is a modality of therapy which involves re-creating the traumatic scenario in the safety of the of the counseling room, that is a safe re-creation, sans live rounds.

A soldier is more than a shooting automaton. We need to reach the troubled soldier on a level deeper than recognition of his skill with a weapon.

While Kyle might have been a killing machine in the military, he was also just another damaged soul looking to turn a profit trading on his "warrior" title. We are not ancient Greece, Rome or Japan and our society does not support a cadre of full-time warriors on the home front. Effective counseling involves integrating the returning soldier back into his human incarnation.

But none of this translates well into two hours of a red-white-and-blue Hollywood honorarium.

--Jim and Lisa

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Duke of Death

 People seldom go to the trouble of
the surface of things to find the inner truth 
--The Shop Around the Corner (1941)

Informers inform, burglars burgle,
murderers murder, lovers love 
--Breathless (1960)

The way your head works
is God's own private mystery 
--Wild at Heart (1990)
________________________

[We said we were done with American Sniper; never say "never".]

Pity that American Sniper director Clint Eastwood took the advice of Kyle's widow to omit the sniper's killing at the hands of a fellow soldier on the gun range. It would have been a Hollywood-perfect wrap and would have provided far more nuance than the final cut allowed, but Mrs. Kyle wanted the happy, if not correct ending ("This is going to be how my children remember their father, so I want you to get it right.") Presumably, she will leave out the means of Kyle's demise from her family lore, as well.

Eastwood has long explored the ideas of revenge and reconciliation. His most recent films chasten the  braggarts and he is not kind to the too-proud gunman-for-hire, the Chris Kyle's of the world.

His first foray into complexity began with The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). The protagonist Wales must reckon with his enemies, lest his life become one of relentless murder ("...the war is over. I reckon we all lost a little bit in that damn war.") A life of revenge is supplanted by one of necessary reconciliation. It was a message to a war-weary nation which did not win in another war.

In Unforgiven (1992), Eastwood's gunman William Munny returns to killing to avenge the knifing of a prostitute. The past always creeps up, and Munny cannot holster his guns for long. Despite the aging gunman's desire to leave his murderous ways, the film ends in an orgy of violence.

Instead of a simple matter of avenging one wrong, he becomes caught in a spider web requiring the final revenge killings for the killing of his friend. The viewer is left to wonder if the best that can be hoped for in this Old Testament eye for an eye world is that someone might avenge Munny's death one day.

An interesting side story in Unforgiven is that of Richard Harris's English Bob ("The Duke of Death"). He is a foreigner of vague British background who repurposes himself in the American West after writing a book embellishing his prowess in the art of killing. His bragging earns him a serious whipping by the town's sheriff (Gene Hackman), as Bob must be taken down a notch for his braggadocio.

The Duke does not realize his hypocrisy:  "A plague on you. A plague on the whole stinking lot of ya, without morals or laws. And all you whores got no laws. You got no honor. It's no wonder you all emigrated to America, because they wouldn't have you in England. You're a lot of savages, that's what you all are. A bunch of bloody savages." The irony is that English Bob is the same as "the savages", though he imagines himself otherwise.

In Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Eastwood follows the stories of the men who raised the flag at Mt. Surabatchi on Iwo Jima in World War II. The character singled out for censure is the money-grubbing Rene Gagnon, who attempts to exploit his chance appearance in Joe Rosenthal's iconic photo to raise his social and economic position . 

Eastwood's sympathy is reserved for Ira Hayes, who was unable to surmount his combat trauma and could not reckon that with the celebrity thrust upon him. Hayes died drunk in a ditch of water some years after the war and his exploitation as a U.S. Bond salesman.

His treatment of gun fighters Josey Wales, William Munny, English Bob and Gene Gagnon differ from that of Chris Kyle. Kyle is every bit the self-promoter as English Bob or Gene Gagnon, but there is no repercussion that accrues to him because of Eastwood's restricted ending.

If Eastwood had shown the death of Kyle at the hands of another soldier, he would have been consistent in his message -- the past catches up with you. Unfortunately, in his decision to omit the story's end he delivers a film lacking in his previous gravitas.

After Seal team member Robert O'Neill decided to go public about his killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (following Matt Bissonette's firsthand account of the operation in his book, "No Easy Day"), Rear Admiral Brian Losey, head of the Naval Special Warfare Command, condemned the pair's decision. He warned serving members of special operations forces that Navy leaders "will not abide willful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain."

Director Eastwood has detracted from his oeuvre's message that braggadocio in killing is neither noble nor an action without consequence. Had he hewed to the actual storyline, he would have maintained his consistent and solid position.

--Jim and Lisa

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Shooting Protection

 He was a most peculiar man
He lived all alone within a house
Within a room, within himself 
--A Most Peculiar Man,
Simon and Garfunkel 

They seek him here, they seek him there
In Regent Street and Leicester Square
Everywhere the Carnabetian army marches on
Each one a dedicated follower of fashion 
--Dedicated Follower of Fashion,
The Kinks

He didn’t say boo in confession
He wasn’t the least judgmental
If you didn’t kill your ma or your da
He could be exceedingly gentle 
--Uncle Jim, Black 47
____________________
Ranger's last observation from the film American Sniper, by way of the t.v. series, "Justified":

Hollywood depictions of violence do not usually parallel those events in real life. Take the case of breaking a 2 x 4 over the back of federal agent Givens by his opponent in a fist fight. In Hollywood, the Good Guy victim rolls over and gets up to fight another day. In real life, that would probably have been a killing blow.

In a now-iconic scene from American Sniper, Kyle is shown poised to make a kill with his sniper rifle which shoots high intensity cartridges and has considerable muzzle blast, yet he is wearing neither ear protection nor protective glasses. He is wearing the iconic American baseball cap with bill turned backwards -- the primary accoutrement of the American man-child -- steely eyes not of a killer but of a patriot doing his duty, sans lust and with a bissel of sadness, or perhaps isolation. The soldier next to him is wearing a helmet.

People viewing the film may think this is how a professional shoots, but that is not correct. One's hearing and eyesight are valuable assets not to be squandered, even in the service of killing Iraqis, but a helmet and goggles would have prevented a close-up on Kyle's inscrutable eyes.

We are exposed daily to noises below that of a rifle blast that can damage hearing. But sixty million Americans own firearms, and many people do not use appropriate hearing protection devices.

Power tools, leaf blowers and even the volume in movie theaters can exceed 85 decibels, the level at which hearing is damaged. So not only does the film perpetrate a scene not true-to-life, but the very act of sitting in the theater viewing the scene may damage the viewer's ears -- the supreme irony.

Rangers suffers tinnitus from blast damage, as do many soldiers. The damage is permanent and the consequences are incessant buzzing and ringing. According to Shands/UF Medical School, the second most common combat injury is ear damage. Coming home healthy is more important than confirmed kills.

We understand that Clint can't come out and deliver a Smoky the Bear public service announcement so Ranger is doing it for him: only you can prevent damage to your ears and eyes.

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Body Counts

 You can't kill your way out of an insurgency
--General David Petraeus 

For days and nights they battled
the Bantu to their knees
They killed to earn their living
and to help out the Congolese 
--Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, 
Warren Zevon

'T ain't what you bring
it's the way that you bring it
'T ain't what you sing
  it's the way that you sing it 
--Taint What You Do, 
Ella Fitzgerald
 ____________________

In our continuing series of running jumps off of the much-lauded film, American Sniper:

The dark subtext to this erstwhile patriotic film is, "In lieu of a successful hearts and minds counterinsurgency (COIN) operation [something which has never been and probably never will be], we are left to celebrate the prodigious human husks left in the wake of a patriotic sniping machine (= Mr. Kyle), our views confined to those seen through the cross hairs of his sniper rifle scope."

Whiz kid Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense through much of the last United States' COIN operation in Vietnam, was fond of "body counts" as a metric for measuring success in that endeavor. It was a failed concept then, and it remains a failure today, yet good Americans get whooped up over the story of Mr. Kyle, the "killingest sniper ever."

Of course, body counts can be inflated, and even had he killed twice his 160 supposedly "confirmed kills" [who ARE these "kill confirmers", anyway?] that would not turn the tide of war. The Islamic State has garnered far more success with their brute, time-intensive Middle Age-style staged killings than Kyle could with his high-tech sniper rifle.

But from this tiny diameter of the sniper scope on celluloid, it's all good. From here, FLOTUS Obama can praise the film and its subject, a stone cold killer who admittedly also shot underage persons. Meanwhile her husband the President holds forth about the injustice of killing young black men in the U.S. by uniformed officers in the line of duty. Decrying the killing of our own underage youths without understanding the reciprocity abroad, the U.S. shows its callow and bigoted nature once again.

RAW the art critic asks: "Should not great art and film take the viewer to a transcendent place and help elevate his soul?" We could say that a great war should do the same, and so should a movie about such a war. Some examples are Sergeant York, Paths of Glory, All Quiet on the Western Front and Flags of Our Fathers.

These movies show men who grew in the execution of their duties, unlike Kyle, who shrinks as a person. Where does American Sniper take us? How are we elevated and what do we take when we leave the theater? In the absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or linkage of Iraq to the the U.S. events of 9-11-01, what makes this movie a work of art versus simple "war porn"?

Invading countries cause the indigenous people to resist the invading forces, so why would we celebrate killing Iraqis at all?

Through a rifle scope at 100 yards you have an 80 feet field of vision. General Petraeus, on the other hand, saw the entire spectrum of the conflict and for him, killing was not the metric of success.

The U.S. took an entire country and turned it into a rifle range sans safety officers. That is not very uplifting.

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