American Sniper, the jingoistic flick produced by Clint Eastwood, the paragon of white supremacy and misogyny in the film industry, is emblematic of the malignancy of all militaristic societies. The story was based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who had bragged about killing 255 people in Iraq and dozens of Americans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. While Eastwood is no Leni Riefenstahl, he has proven himself to be one of the best American propagandists in modern times. In America today, neoliberal capitalism defines worth; and American Sniper garnered well over one hundred million dollars in its weekend debut. This obscene profit is a symptom of the grotesque, hyper-militarism that infects the American psyche.
It is a society that convinces young men and women to enlist in the military in order to kill people who never attacked them and occupy their lands in order to protect the very freedoms the empire, and its elite class, are hacking away at on the home front. Iraq never attacked the United States. It had nothing to do with the events of September 11, 2001. There were no weapons of mass destruction. In essence, the war in Iraq was state sponsored terrorism, and the US was the state that sponsored it. It was a lie that enabled the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians. It was a lie that displaced over one million. And it was a lie that destroyed infrastructure leading to disease, in a nation already badly weakened by over a decade of US sanctions that killed at least 500,000 Iraqi children. The propaganda erected around this lie ensures that it will continue until finally the empire crumbles under its own hubris. It was against this backdrop that Kyle is quoted as saying; “Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.” This is the language of a psychopath. There are no grey areas, only black and white, and this is how the mad insanity of militarism is nurtured.
When thousands of soldiers return home scarred, mutilated, homeless, on food stamps and suffering with PTSD this society ignores them unless they wax on endlessly about being a proud murderer, or don their uniforms to sit beside some puss-oozing politician. Soldiers like Ethan McCord who saved the lives of Iraqi children targeted by US drones, or others, like Scott Olsen, who threw their medals away in disgust are never put into the spotlight. Their humanity is too much of a threat to militarism. Hollywood, and Eastwood, et al, are the corporate empire’s lapdogs. They skillfully tap into the angst of endemic American bellicosity, and temporarily relieve the malaise associated with aggressive and violent societies. They produce propaganda that glorify state-sanctioned, serial killers like Kyle, and disparage any one else that questions them, so that their profit margins are protected.
The term “cannon fodder” and its historic meaning have been largely forgotten or buried in modern times. But little, if anything, has changed about the true nature of imperialism, except that American propaganda has become more technologically and psychologically cutting edge in recruiting young people to fight in its needless wars. Films like American Sniper soothe the consciences of murderers, and their sponsors and apologists; and cajole more young people to become cannon fodder for the empire’s endless wars. In this despicable art, Eastwood has succeeded with flying colors.
Kenn Orphan 2015