American Sniper article response

This article from an Australian newspaper was forwarded to me http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/australias-deadliest-sniper-ian-robertson-never-did-the-arithmetic-20150121-12urq2.html.

It is comparing the experiences of an Australian Korean War veteran and sniper with how Hollywood portrays war. This article was first published in Good Weekend on April 26, 2004. But it was recently re-published in the wake of the popular movie “American Sniper”

I picked out several statements from the article and responded to them below:

Article- Still, sniping is the dark art of conventional warfare. In America’s gun culture, it attracts a fringe celebrity status that supports a growing list of books and websites. Australians are more ambivalent.

Me- Australia has very strict gun laws and, in that sense, does not have a “gun culture” like the us.  But they also don’t have the second amendment right to keep and bear arms.  Philosophically I think the second amendment is moral and right. Any attempt to usurp it is wrong.

Article- Snipers were no more “murderers” – or “heroes” – than pilots, artillerymen or army cooks. They were just more cost effective, with the best snipers averaging about 1.3 rounds per “kill”.

Me- It might be more cost effective to have snipers on the battlefield. However, it is also necessary to protect troops, combat enemy snipers, and WIN. If our armed forced got rid of snipers, would our enemies do the same? No.

Article- “But we weren’t a lot of Hollywood macho idiots carving notches in our rifle butts,” Robertson says fiercely. “We were never body counters.” Apart from the first furious fire fight he so miraculously survived, Rambo it wasn’t. It was dirty and dangerous and bitterly cold.

Me- I agree that there are many dumb hollywoodized movies. Does this mean that Hollywood should not make these movies? The answer is yes if people stop going to watch them.  It might be true that no Australian serviceman in Korea ever counted how many they killed but the article seems to offer this anecdotal evidence as fact instead of one man’s testimony of his experience. I also know that the enemy was much more defined during WWII and Korea. In today’s world the enemy can be anyone with an ideology. However, an ideology does not wear a uniform. Different comparison.

Article- He saw scenes he refused to photograph. Once, they found a tiny church full of bodies. Men, women and children had been beaten to death. “I took one look and walked out. They [North Koreans] had been torturing the kids in front of their parents to make the parents ‘confess’ to something, then they’d kill all of them. We found the kids’ bodies with their arms and legs broken.”

Me- This is why war is necessary in some cases.  A line in “American Sniper”, which I tend to agree with is when his father describes that the world is made up of three different types of people in the world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. The idea is this “If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath—a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path” (ON COMBAT, David Grossman, 2004)  I tend to agree with that sentiment although there is a little more that goes into it.  People in combat situations do not have the luxury to philosophize in the moment, they might need to have presuppositions and a mentality like the statement above.

Article- “I can’t forgive the communists for what they did,” he says.

Me- I can forgive them but I was never in battle.  I also believe that the communist ideology and totalitarianism, which today is being propounded by fascist Islamism, is a poisonous ideology.

Article- After 54 years, memories petrify into a series of frozen moments, like random snapshots from an old album. He remembers not only brutality but acts of courage and kindness.

Me- Courage and kindness is something that “anti-war” left-wingers do not want to admit is something that many soldiers throughout American military history haves shown to others in other countries.  War is in its nature brutal and terrible. However, that does not mean that everyone who fights in a war is.

Article- At Chongju, he saw five Korean children, terrified, caught in the battlefield. “I called to them in Japanese, ‘Come here’, and they ran over to where our mortars were. The mortarmen got the kids to hop in the gun pits and gave them their own helmets to protect them. There wasn’t enough room so the two mortarmen jumped out and took their chance in the open. I remember those little faces looking up at them – thankful, with a bit of reverence.”

Me- My grandfather (Col. Robert Holderman) saved and fed a starving family in Italy during WWII. They maintained communication with him for decades. The Italian people were not the enemy although those in charge were.

Article- He had been wounded three times under fire, and had accounted for more enemy soldiers than he cared to think about. But the man on the door wouldn’t let him in – on grounds that “Korea was only a police action, not a real war.”

Me- Police action is what “anti-war” demagogues always blame America for because to them there is no such thing as a justified war. This is wrong and bad. War should be avoided but not taken off the table of live options.  This is because appeasement to an enemy who only cares about destroying you only gives them strength and confidence.

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