Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’ trailer is out, and it looks like a movie Chris Kyle fans will appreciate

Bradley Cooper American SniperWhen it was first announced that Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s life would be made into a movie by Steven Spielberg, my first thought was, “Ummm, how is that going to work? Did Spielberg even read the book? Knowing his politics, I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be a horrible movie.”

Interestingly enough, Mr. Spielberg dropped the project and Clint Eastwood was there to pick it up. “That makes much more sense,” I thought. Now that the trailer is out, it appears as though the world will get the Chris Kyle story it deserves.

“They fry you if you’re wrong.”

How do you win a war when the men responsible for securing victory are paranoid that any mistake they make will land them in prison for the rest of their lives? The answer: You probably don’t win. You lose. Or you wind up pulling out of that country for political reasons and then having to go back in when things spiral out of control…

Chris Kyle wrote in American Sniper:

 “You cannot be afraid to take your shot. When you see someone with an IED or a rifle maneuvering toward your men, you have clear reason to fire. (The fact that an Iraqi had a gun would not necessarily mean he could be shot.) The ROEs were specific, and in most cases the danger was obvious.

But there were times when it wasn’t exactly clear, when a person almost surely was an insurgent, probably was doing evil, but there was still some doubt because of the circumstances or the surroundings —the way he moved, for example, wasn’t toward an area where troops were. A lot of times a guy seemed to be acting macho for friends, completely unaware that I was watching him, or that there were American troops nearby.

Those shots I didn’t take.

You couldn’t — you had to worry about your own ass. Make an unjustified shot and you could be charged with murder.

I often would sit there and think, “I know this motherfucker is bad; I saw him doing such and such down the street the other day, but here he’s not doing anything, and if I shoot him, I won’t be able to justify it for the lawyers. I’ll fry.” Like I said, there is paperwork for everything. Every confirmed kill had documentation, supporting evidence, and a witness.

So I wouldn’t shoot.” — Chris Kyle, American Sniper. (Harper Collins, 2012), 149-150.

If you’re not familiar with Chris Kyle’s life, then check out American Sniper — the book. And then make sure to see Clint Eastwood’s cinematic take on the Navy SEAL’s life. I’d recommend seeing Angelina Jolie’s take on ‘Unbroken,’ but she apparently gutted one of the most crucial aspect’s of World War II hero Louie Zamperini’s life — his conversion to Christianity that kept his world from falling to pieces and allowed him to personally forgive the men who tortured him in Japanese POW camps. If you’re wondering why I feared Spielberg’s take on Chris Kyle’s life, just think about Ms. Jolie’s “Unbroken” for a few moments, but I digress.

I’m looking forward to seeing “American Sniper” when it opens in theaters December 25. If you are as well, then stop by here shortly after its release, check out my review, and let me know what you thought.

Related: American Sniper: Chris Kyle, Guardian Angel who doesn’t know it

Related: American Sniper: More Dead Terrorists Than Sales By Occupiers?

Related: In remembrance: Navy SEAL Chris Kyle

American Sniper: Chris Kyle, Guardian Angel who doesn’t know it.

American Sniper’s Chris Kyle keeps returning to the idea of a guardian angel watching over him without ever acknowledging the extent to which he is one.

I gave American Sniper an abridged review upon its release, but it’s a book that deserves an extended version. Chris Kyle may be “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, ” but he’s much more than that. Throughout the book, Kyle wrestles with the many roles he must play (i.e., husband, father, soldier) and the responsibilities he must balance with God, Family, and Country. We ask our soldiers to be killing machines, but then expect their humanity to remain unscathed. We order them to extinguish pure evil, but then give them Rules of Engagement better suited for a cricket match. If for no other reason, civilians should read this book just for a glimpse into the psychological ringer we put our war fighters through without ever giving it a second thought.

One of the other topics that comes up repeatedly throughout American Sniper is the idea of a guardian angel. Chris postulates that there must have been one looking over him on multiple occasions (as does his friend Marcus Luttrell in the fabulous book Lone Survivor). What’s interesting about both of these soldiers is that on some level they downplay the fact that THEY are guardian angels. Chris’ obsession becomes saving every solider in harm’s way—and impossible task that begins to take a psychological toll on him as the war moves on. After his battle buddy is shot, he blames himself:

I’d put him in the spot where he got hit. It was my fault he’d been shot…A hundred kills? Two hundred? What did they mean if my brother was dead? Why hadn’t I put myself there? Why hadn’t I been standing there? I could have gotten the bastard–I could have saved my boy. I was in a dark hole. Deep Down. How long I stayed there, head buried, tears flowing, I have no idea.”

Chris often observes the unpredictable nature of war, but when it comes to an injury or a death of a fellow soldier he seems to (unfairly) place full responsibility on his own shoulders. What Chris fails to realize is that even a guardian angel can not be all places at all times. His insatiable thirst to find and kill every last enemy is commendable, but readers will know long before he addresses the issue that yes, even Navy SEALS are human, and such a mentality lends itself to the kind of physiological problems (e.g., high blood pressure) he would experience later in his career. Luckily for Chris, this story has a happy ending.

The final aspect of the book that needs to be covered concerns how wars are won—something that is not taught in college classrooms, which might be the reason for the bongo-drumming anti-war protests I experienced years ago at USC:

YOU KNOW HOW RAMADI WAS WON? We went in and killed all the bad people we could find. When we started, the decent (or potentially decent) Iraqis didn’t fear the United States; they did fear the terrorists. The U.S. told them, “We’ll make it better for you.”

The terrorists said, “We’ll cut your head off.”

Who would you fear? Who would you listen to?

We went to Ramadi, we told the terrorists, “We’ll cut your head off. We will do whatever we have to and eliminate you.” Not only did we get the terrorists’ attention—we got everyone’s attention. We showed we were the force to be reckoned with. That’s where the so-called Great Awakening came from. It wasn’t from kissing up to the Iraqis. It was from kicking butt.

The tribal leaders saw that we were bad-asses, and they’d better get their act together, work together and stop accommodating the insurgents. Force moved that battle. We killed the bad guys and brought the leaders to the peace table. That is how the world works.

Chris Kyle makes a compelling case, and it’s one that doesn’t get the attention it deserves among the civilian population, which is sad. Regardless, I’d like to narrow the scope of his argument: The United States “works” because guardian angels like Chris are willing to enter into a realms of pure evil and push back. They do so selflessly. They do so at the expense to family and loved ones.

In the late 90s I enlisted in a mechanized infantry unit. I wore a chain with the prayer to Saint Michael inscribed on it. Reading American Sniper made me realize that for a span of three years I lived and worked with guardian angels every day and I never adequately showed my appreciation to a great group of guys. Chris Kyle’s book will make you realize just how much we take the civilized world—and life—for granted. I highly recommend this book, for soldier and civilian alike.

Update: Please pray for the Kyle family. Chris was shot and murdered on February 2, 2013.

Related: No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account … of a great book

American Sniper: More Dead Terrorists Than Sales By Occupiers?

How odd is it that former Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle, has killed more terrorists than the number of “Occupy” protesters who will buy his book?

On Saturday I bought American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. On Sunday I started reading it. Tonight, I finished it. Needless to say, it was worth the $27.00 I laid down on the counter. If you’re a fan of Marcus Luttrell, you’ll want to add this one to your collection. If you’re a fan of Harry “surrender monkey” Reid, you might not. My full review will come in the near future, but there is one excerpt that I think sums up the essence of the book:

One night a little later on, we were in an exhausting firefight. Ten of us spent roughly forty-eight hours in the second story of an old, abandoned brick building, fighting in hundred-degree-plus heat wearing full armor. Bullets flew in, demolishing the walls around us practically nonstop. The only break we took was to reload.

Finally, as the sun came up in the morning, the sound of gunfire and bullets hitting brick stopped. The fight was over. It was eerily quiet.

When the Marines came in to relieve us , they found every man in the room either slumped against a wall or collapsed on the floor, dressing wounds or just soaking in the situation.

One of the Marines outside took an American flag and hoisted it over the position. Someone else played the National Anthem—I have no idea where the music came from, but the symbolism and the way it spoke to the soul was overwhelming; it remains one of my most powerful memories.

Every battle-weary man rose, went to the window, and saluted. The words of the music echoed in each of us as we watched the Stars and Stripes wave literally in dawn’s early light. The reminder of what we were fighting for caused tears as well as blood and sweat to run freely from all of us, (American Sniper, 84-85).

American Sniper is a very telling book. Patriots exist. But the patriotism displayed by Chris Kyle is not instilled in children today. It’s ironically very foreign to them, which is why Kyle’s run-in with anti-war protestors earlier in the book has such a profound effect on him. Once upon a time an overwhelming majority of Americans knew what it was the Chris Kyle’s of the world stood for, even if they could never know what it was like to be a SEAL. Once upon a time an overwhelming majority of Americans were rooted in the same love of country, even if military service wasn’t their calling.

Today, it’s different. It seems as though decades of moral and cultural relativism, taught in universities and reenforced through media, has taken its toll. The country is desperate for someone—anyone—who can articulate why the bedrock values the country was built on (e.g., limited government, free markets, and a strong national defense), are still relevant today. The Tea Party and the “Occupy” movements have charted two very different paths for Americans to walk down, and those in the middle are confused as to which road to take. American Sniper is a portrait of the type of American we should all aspire to be, and while Chris Kyle isn’t particularly political, the principles that guide him are deeply tied to our political discourse.

I highly suggest reading American Sniper. When you’re done you’ll have a deeper respect for the work that guys like Chris do, but you’ll also see why modern American conservatism is the last, best hope to preserving our great nation.

Update: Please pray for the Kyle family. Chris was murdered on February 2, 2013.

Update: The expanded book review for American Sniper is now up.
Related: No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account … of a great book