3/04/2012

Book Review: American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History

Almost every word in this book is an explanation of why our mercenary military is doing to be the death of democracy. If "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History" had been written 236 years ago, Chris Kyle would have been British and he would have been saying exactly the same things about the American "insurgents" he had slaughtered. His lack of empathy for the country he invaded and the people who fought to regain control of their country is embarrassing. The fact that he considers himself a great patriot and brags about decorating his vehicles with a Texas flag is telling.

When you read a book like this, you hope that there will be some sign of personal growth in the journey the author makes. The biggest disappointment was that Kyle is exactly the same amoral, bloodthirsty corporate tool at the end that he was in the beginning. He is the kind of guy you won't be surprised to hear assassinated a president, blew up a government building, or fell in with white supremacists and died in a gun battle with the ATF in some cultist whacko's suicide war. He loves to kill people and can find justification in the smallest ways. The most informative quote I found in the book was, "After the first kill, the others were easy." Scary stuff. Characters from these two irrational wars will be biting back on this country for decades.

Kyle appears to believe he has done something patriotic in his part of the Iraq invasion. He seems to have nothing resembling an analytical capacity regarding the reasons for that invasion, the feelings or motivations of the invaded, or a rational ability to see the inconsistencies in his own statements. In one paragraph, he calls the Iraqis "cowards" and "evil" and the next he is disgusted by their "courage" or "stupidity" as they try to fight an overwhelming enemy with primitive weapons. He is unable to assume responsibility for his part in the slaughter. When he witnesses war protesters, he contests their patriotism or courage because they don't properly honor his half-witted understanding of a citizen's personal responsibility. If Kyle were typical of the kind of people who volunteer for our military, it would be pointless for war protesters to try to provide insight, moral encouragement, or context to the volunteers. Fortunately, he is just one kind of poverty draft victim and I have known soldiers who were moved and informed by war protests aimed at the warriors.

On the best pages, this book is barely a soldier's diary; a recounting of the tools, days, and shallow mind of a man who lives to kill other men, women, and children. You'd like to believe that this kind of man would grow to recognize how much of a tool he had been, but that is as likely as Chris Kyle is to discover make useful scientific breakthrough. The day he and his fellow soldiers storm through a Wall Street bank's doors and "liberate" that company's assets for America will be the first day Chris Kyle performs a real patriotic act. Until then, he will cover himself in the Texas flag and chant the slogans he has been trained to repeat and his "service" to the country will be one of many acts that destroys the United States of America.

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