Death of the American Sniper

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I have been reading some articles, put on a website which I am otherwise fond of reading, about the movie American Sniper, and the person it documents, Chris Kyle. Both are presented negatively. I will present a different twist.

Now, I will not see the movie, because I feel that the difference between seeing someone successfully kill several scores of people is about the same as someone shooting up, at an equivalent distance, the same number of bottles on a fence. The latter shooter gets no awards, but I am interested in my own satisfaction, and might prefer to celebrate someone other than Mr. Kyle.

Some see Mr. Kyle as a murderer. This is not my argument to make. As a Navy SEAL, he was a species of professional. Everything he was purported to have said, may have been taken out of context. About a generation after a war, adult people have forgotten the enmities of the past. I have seen this in comments made by European individuals in North American who had married into families of people from former enemy countries. On the other hand, I’ve seen more apparent ill-feeling towards peoples who are supposedly of the same ethnic blood, but divided by a border.

So, I cannot judge Mr. Kyle, except to say, he did a good job. His motivations, if imperfect, probably would have been irrelevant to his employers.

Nevertheless, I think we can commiserate with snipers, sharpshooters, and marksmen; whom I thought were all one and the same until some dozens of hours ago.

The antiwar people, if they do not like snipers (which mentally I had only associated with the deranged shooters who gun down their own countrymen, such as from the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, or the University Texas Tower in Austin), may take heart. I predict the end of all these specialized shooters as a military necessity.

One of the arguments by some of the antiwar people is that war is carried on for profit, including the profit margins of the arms providers. Now, is there anything less profitable than these skilled shooters? The average price might be $4000, going as high as $15,000, but how many snipers are there? One rifle has bullets that cost $40 each. So, at the high end, Kyle gave the military-industrial complex about $20,000. Apparently, an ordinary soldier would have been more profitable to the industry, if the report which states that it took about 250,000 bullets to kill one insurgent in Iraq or Afghanistan. At an average price of 40 cents per bullet, that would be $100,000, rifle included, using the figures of 33 cents per round.

Another thing the antiwar people fail to consider is that the sniper would have a low or non-existent percentage of collateral damage in his kills, unless he went berserk.

Shock-and-awe weapons are more profitable, even more so, if a few are lost, or just made impossible to use by forces of nature such as desert sands, volcanic ash, and substandard maintenance.

In short, excellence and economy in kills is not in the interests of the bottom line of the arms industry. Such skills can best be satisfied in countries with a limited defence budget. At the same time, the sniper is the most innocent of the concealed warriors, in comparison with the death from above coming from airplanes or drones.  Missiles fired from ship, or rounds fired from cannons are not much better.

And when these gentlemen come back to their home countries, and go hunting, as a further benefit to the environment, they will leave the soil less full of lead poisoning than the average hunter.

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