The Pseudo-Courage of Chris KyleSubmitted by Jefferson on Tue, 02/05/2013 - 20:26
That kind of courage, which is conspicuous in danger and enterprise, if devoid of justice, is absolutely undeserving of the name of valor. It should rather be considered as a brutal fierceness outraging every principle of humanity.
Cicero, The Offices, Book I Chapter XIX
As a sniper with the Navy SEALs in Iraq, Chris Kyle was shot twice and wounded on several other occasions. He is credited with 160 confirmed kills. He received several commendations. Of his fierceness there is no reasonable doubt. Whether his exploits display courage is an entirely separate question.
American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, the ghost-written memoir for which Kyle claims primary authorship, offers convincing testimony that Kyle not only failed to display genuine courage in Iraq, but was incapable of recognizing it when it was exhibited by desperate patriots seeking to evict the armed foreigners who had invaded and occupied their country.
The insurgents who fought the American invasion (and the few “allied” troops representing governments that had been bribed or brow-beaten into collaborating in that crime) were sub-human “savages” and “cowards,” according to Kyle.
“Savage, despicable evil,” writes Kyle. “That’s what we were fighting in Iraq…. People ask me all the time, `How many people have you killed?’... The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives.”
None of the American military personnel whose lives were wasted in Iraq had to die there, because none of them had any legitimate reason to be there. From Kyle’s perspective, however, only incorrigibly “evil” people would object once their country had been designated the target of one of Washington’s frequent outbursts of murderous humanitarianism.
The insensate savagery of the Iraqi population was supposedly illustrated by the first kill Kyle recorded as a sniper, while covering a Marine advance near Nasiriyah in March, 2003.
“I looked through the scope,” Kyle recalls. “The only people who were moving were [a] woman and maybe a child or two nearby. I watched the troops pull up. Ten young, proud Marines in uniform got out of their vehicles and gathered for a foot patrol. As the Americans organized, the woman took something from beneath her clothes, and yanked at it. She’d set a grenade.”
Kyle shot the woman twice.
“It was my duty to shoot, and I don’t regret it,” Kyle attests. “The woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn’t take any Marines with her. It was clear that not only did she want to kill them, but she didn’t care about anybody else nearby who would have been blown up by the grenade or killed in the firefight. Children on the street, people in the houses, maybe her child….”
Of course, if the Marines hadn’t invaded that woman’s neighborhood, she wouldn’t have been driven to take such desperate action – but Kyle either cannot or will not understand the motives of an Iraqi patriot.
“She was … blinded by evil,” Kyle writes of the woman he murdered from a safe distance. “She just wanted Americans dead, no matter what. My shots saved several Americans, whose lives were clearly worth more than that woman’s twisted soul.”
Were Kyle just a touch more literate, he might recognize the term untermenschen, a German expression that encapsulates his view of the Iraqis who took up arms to repel foreign invaders. From his perspective, they were incurably inferior to their “liberators” and possessed of an inexplicable hatred toward their natural betters.
For some reason many Iraqis resented the armed emissaries of the distant government that had installed Saddam in power, built up his arsenal and apparatus of domestic repression, and then conferred upon the inhabitants of that nation the unmatched blessing of several decades of wars, embargoes, airstrikes, disease, and the early, avoidable deaths of hundreds of thousands of children.
“The people we were fighting in Iraq, after Saddam’s army fled or was defeated, were fanatics,” Kyle insists. “They hated us because we weren’t Muslim. They wanted to kill us, even though we’d just booted out their dictator, because we practiced a different religion than they did.”
Actually, most of them probably wanted to kill Kyle and his comrades because they had invaded and occupied their country. They were prepared to use lethal force to protect their homes against armed intruders who had no right to be there. Ironically, Kyle’s book offers evidence that he understands that principle; he simply doesn’t believe that it applies to Iraqis.
In one incident described by Kyle, he and several other U.S. personnel raid an Iraqi home, in the basement of which they discover a mass grave containing the bodies of several soldiers and Marines. For several panic-stricken moments, Kyle is understandably terrified by the thought that he might find the lifeless body of his younger brother, a Marine who had also been deployed to Iraq.
With obvious and vehement disgust, Kyle cites the “murdered young men whose bodies we had pulled out” of that basement grave as evidence of the bestial nature of the enemy. He exhibits no interest at all in the fact that tens of millions of Iraqis have seen friends and family meet violent, avoidable deaths as a result of the wars and sanctions imposed on their country by Washington. Untermenschen, apparently, aren’t entitled to experience grief and rage – much less the right to defend their homes and families against aggressive violence.
After returning from his first combat tour in Iraq, Kyle recalls, he was rudely roused from slumber one morning when the burglar alarm went off. Although this was a malfunction rather than a real emergency, Kyle’s reaction was revealing.
“I grabbed my pistol and went to confront the criminal,” he recalls. “No son of a bitch was breaking into my house and living to tell about it.”
Why was it “evil” for Iraqis to feel exactly the same way about the foreign sons of bitches who broke into their country and wrecked the place?