Streetwise Professor

January 18, 2015

Chris Kyle & Alvin York: Avatars of Jacksonian America

Filed under: History,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 10:11 pm

Last night I saw American Sniper. I recommend it. It’s a very straightforward telling of the story of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who served four tours in Iraq, serving mainly as a sniper providing “overwatch” for Marines operating in the mean streets of places like Fallujah and Sadr City. Kyle was credited with 160 kills, an American record. (The all-time record is held by a Finn who killed over 500 Russians in a few weeks during the Russo-Finnish War of 1940.) This tally included a 2000+ yard shot, which is the sort-of climax of the movie. (Amazingly, he did this with a Macmillan Tac 338,  rather than a 50 caliber Barrett.)

I say sort-of climax, because the movie doesn’t have the standard narrative arc. That reflects its hewing closely to Kyle’s life, and most lives aren’t like classic movie scripts.

Bradley Cooper does an excellent job at portraying Kyle. You can see interviews with Kyle on YouTube, and Cooper’s Kyle captures the real thing in appearance, voice, and mannerisms.

The movie is quite powerful, and the ending which uses film from Kyle’s funeral procession and memorial service in Cowboys Stadium is quite moving.

The best indicator of the impact of the movie is that when screen darkened and people were departing the theater, no one spoke a single word. I am not exaggerating: I did not hear anyone speak, and after noticing the silence I listened for voices, and heard none. People shuffled out in silence, as they might leaving a funeral of a friend struck down too young.*

Walking back from the theater, my mind flashed back to one of my favorite old movies, Sergeant York starring Gary Cooper. (And no, it wasn’t the common last name of the stars that brought that comparison to mind: I honestly didn’t notice that until just now.) There are some interesting comparisons and contrasts. Both Kyle and Alvin York were Southerners who grew up around firearms and hunting. Both were somewhat rambunctious as young men. Both were very patriotic.  Both became celebrated war heroes, and of course, subjects of biopics.

There are of course substantial differences. York found religion, foreswore his previous wild ways, and became an ardent pacifist. He attempted to obtain an exemption from conscription as a conscientious objector, but as his sect was not recognized his request was rejected. Kyle, conversely, volunteered for a branch of the service most likely to see combat.  York’s heroism was compressed into a few hours-a few minutes, really-on a single day in October, 1918: he killed as many as 28 Germans, with as many shots. Kyle served four long tours in Iraq, and his tally was spread out over nearly 1000 days.

The most striking similarity is how they justified killing. Here’s the dialog from Sergeant York:

Colonel: Of course, if you’d rather not tell me,why, it’s quite all right.
York: Well, I’m as much against killing as ever,sir. But it was this way, Colonel. When I started out I felt just like you said. But when I hear them machine guns a-going and all them fellows are dropping around me, I figured that them guns was killing hundreds, maybe thousands, and there weren’t nothing anybody could do, but to stop them guns.
And that’s what I done.
Colonel: You mean to tell me that you did it to save lives?
York: Yes, sir. That was why.
Colonel: Well, York, what you’ve just told me is the most extraordinary thing of all.

In American Sniper, Kyle says that he was killing to protect his comrades, and that the only thing that he regretted is the ones he couldn’t save.  The psychologist to whom Kyle tells this is as surprised at this statement as York’s colonel was. (Other noted American snipers, such as Chuck Mawhinney and Carlos Hathcock, expressed similar views.)

A similarity in the movies is that both were nominated for Oscars as Best Picture, and both Coopers received nominations for Best Actor. Gary won in 1941, though the movie did not. It remains to be seen how Bradley and his movie do 74 years later.

That may have something to do with politics, and perhaps the most interesting contrast between Sergeant York and American Sniper relates to politics.

In some respects, there is a very strong political subtext to Sergeant York. When the movie was released, the US was very divided about whether to become involved in the World War that was then raging in Europe, and in China. There was a strong isolationist and pacifist streak in the nation, and although Roosevelt was nudge the country towards intervention, there was considerable opposition. Indeed, while Sergeant York was still in theaters, the House of Representatives extended conscription by the margin of a single vote. Viewed against that background, York can be seen as an allegorical figure: a committed pacifist who comes to recognize that killing is sometimes justified because it saves more lives, just as some were arguing that a peace loving US needed to intervene in the world conflict in order to save humanity from murderous regimes.

Even given this political subtext, the movie was not controversial. It was, in fact, wildly popular: it was the largest grossing film in 1941. Moreover, it did not generate any real political controversy. Indeed, its patriotic themes were widely praised. On December 7, 1941, it seemed prescient.

In contrast, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is not avowedly political, but it has been the focus of intense political criticism, mostly from the left. Eastwood portrays Kyle like he was. Patriotic. An ardent supporter of the war in Iraq. A man who believed that the US was fighting evil there.

And all of that just won’t do, will it? Since all of these things are an anathema to the progressive left, they have subjected the movie to shrill criticism. The most absurd example of this being the “review” in The New Republic, which was written by someone who hadn’t seen the movie. (I refuse to link to such tripe: you can find it yourself if you want to read it.) Because, hey, who needs to see a movie to judge it, when its plot and its real life protagonist conflict with the accept progressive narrative, right? The most odious example is fittingly from that most odious of progs (quite a competition, that), Michael Moore, who tweeted that snipers are backshooting cowards. (Again, not linking. You’re own your own if you want to subject yourself to his bile.)

Kyle was the type of man who gives the left the vapors. He epitomized the people Obama belittled as “clinging to their guns and religion.” He was a Jacksonian par excellence, and any movie fairly portraying a Jacksonian is beyond the progressive pale. Such men are the true enemies of the progressive left, far more threatening than any jihadi/Salafist/Islamist terrorist, as Obama’s stubborn refusal to utter these words plainly reveals.

But the key thing to note is that Kyle stands out in the movie for his commitment to the war in Iraq: he is the exception, not the rule, among his comrades in arms. There is a scene where Kyle unexpectedly meets his brother, a Marine, on a tarmac in Iraq. His brother is going home after his combat tour, and makes it clear that he detested the war and wants to get far away from it as soon as possible: this leaves Kyle befuddled. One of Kyle’s comrades on several tours is killed, and at the funeral stateside his grieving mother reads his last letter, which is a cri du couer condemning the futility of the war. Kyle tells his wife that the letter killed his friend: he had lost his commitment to the cause, and it had killed him. Eastwood presents both sides and in this, and other parts of the movie, he conveys the grays of the war and the diverse responses of those who fought it. Which is utterly unacceptable to those who see it purely in black and black, and who can only conceive of Kyle as a blood-crazed psychopath.

This should not be surprising, as a recent speech by James Bowman indicates:

Miss Ryzik’s application [in a review of Zero Dark Thirty] of progressive historicism to movie criticism may at first seem just a little incongruous, but it shouldn’t. The politicization both of movie criticism and of the movies themselves has been progressing, too, for decades. Nowadays almost everything written about movies or popular culture by the scholars and academics paid to study such subjects by universities is so reliably progressive, as we now understand the term, that it will seem to ordinary readers already to come from the future. This impression is reinforced by the fact that it is written in a futuristic language only vaguely related to English, a language which is beginning to leave its impression on our own with words like Melena Ryzik’s “narrative” in place of an old-fashioned word like “movie.” She is far from being the only person to think nowadays that “narrative” sounds more intelligent and sophisticated than more concrete language.

We are seeing this in spades with American Sniper.

But this too is revealing: the disconnect between progressive opinion and the popularity of the film is telling. It cleared over $90 million over the weekend of its release, and with tomorrow being MLK holiday, the opening weekend take is likely to be on the order of $115-$120 million. As I noted, the movie clearly moved the audience, and I believe that this is because they admired him and were saddened by the closing scenes of his funeral procession, memorial service, and funeral. Perhaps saddened specifically by the knowledge that he was killed by an emotionally troubled veteran he was trying to help. The progressives may hate Chris Kyle and what he stands for, but apparently vast swathes of America don’t.

In his article on the Jacksonian tradition in American politics (linked above, and which is a must read), Walter Russell Mead notes:

Despite its undoubted limitations and liabilities, however, Jacksonian policy and politics are indispensable elements of American strength. Although Wilsonians, Jeffersonians and the more delicately constructed Hamiltonians do not like to admit it, every American school needs Jacksonians to get what it wants. If the American people had exhibited the fighting qualities of, say, the French in World War II, neither Hamiltonians, nor Jeffersonians nor Wilsonians would have had the opportunity to have much to do with shaping the postwar international order.

Two men portrayed by actors named Cooper nearly 75 years apart-Chris Kyle and Alvin York-personified what Mead writes. At times of trial, Jacksonian America has produced remarkable men who would be misfits in a faculty lounge or the halls of politics, but who make those things possible. They were rough men of a type that permit us to sleep in our beds at night because of their willingness-one reluctantly, one enthusiastically-to do violence on our behalf (to paraphrase the remark often attributed to Orwell). They are the kind of men whom progressives despise. Fortunately, however, it appears there plenty of Americans who think otherwise. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.

*Scott relates a similar experience in the comments. When I was waiting to get into the Rec center this morning, several students were talking about the film, and made the same observation. My daughter said that friends had told her the same thing. It’s a phenomenon.

 

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33 Comments »

  1. I saw American Sniper last week. I caught a matinee at one of the few theaters playing it; even then it was pretty nearly sold out; I haven’t seen the Gary Cooper movie you reference. My take was that American Sniper presents Chris Kyle’s story, mostly from the perspective of Chris Kyle.

    I have to admit, I was very surprised at its box office performance this weekend. 90mn+ in January is unheard of.

    My first impression of the movie was very positive. I went into the movie knowing literally nothing about it. I hadn’t even seen a trailer. I saw, maybe, one commercial (I don’t really watch TV, but I watch enough movies that I figure I should have seen the trailer). So now, I think, I want to read his book before making final conclusion. Preliminary thoughts follow.

    My understanding is the whole super Iraqi sniper is just dramatic license. I’m fine with that, but it led to a series of weird plot points. Like the whole final fight. He seems to take a very dramatic action and then he’s on the phone with his wife in the middle of it. I just found it completely unbelievable (albeit a sat phone is at least plasible, compared to a cell phone) in the middle of him just f’ing up this whole operation. The actual story is apparently related to an attack on an America convoy, which seems believable, but doesn’t have the virtue of having a clearly identifiable villain.

    Comment by John Hall — January 18, 2015 @ 11:32 pm

  2. Thanks for this, somehow I’d not even heard of this film, and only vaguely recall the story behind it. I’m sure it’ll be showing in Paris, so will check it out. One crucial difference between Alvin York and Chris Kyle is that the former’s heroics were largely forced upon him IIRC. I’m not making any particular point, other than Kyle clearly believed in what he was doing and was acting accordingly, whereas York probably didn’t have much of a choice and was likely acting on impulse.

    Comment by Tim Newman — January 19, 2015 @ 1:44 am

  3. Lost in all of this verbiage is the fact that the US committed egregious war crimes in Iraq. The war was illegal, violating both international law and the UN Charter as well as US constitutional law which holds that ‘the US is bound by international laws and treaties to which it is a signatory’. It was aggression, pure and simple, against a country ravaged by the first Gulf War and brought to its knees by 12 years of crippling sanctions that killed an estimated 500,000 to 1 million people, many of them children. In Falluja American snipers fired at virtually anything that moves, including people of any age, ambulances, probably stray dogs and cats. When one talks coldly of ‘160 kills’ its as if one has become detached from humanity. Who were the 160? Did that include teenaged boys who are broadly categorized as ‘military aged males’ making them appear to be legitimate targets? Furthermore, is Eastwood remotely suggesting that the US should be proud of an illegal war that left hundreds of thousands more (and perhaps as many as a million) dead, 4 million internally displaced refugees and the country ‘destroyed, never to rise again’ in the words of scholar Nir Rosen, an expert on Iraq? Hollywood in recent years appears to be doing everything in its power to legitimize the invasion and subsequent occupation, as it did in the past with respect to Viet Nam. In reality, its just another sordid chapter in US history that was aimed at controlling the resources of a region vital to US hegemony. Unfortunately this reality appears lost to Eastwood.

    Comment by Jeff Harvey — January 19, 2015 @ 10:11 am

  4. I saw American Sniper on Saturday night. Exactly the same response in a huge IMAX theater as you described. You could have heard a pin drop. A powerful experience in and of itself. There is a cultural event happening with this movie. You nailed the reprehensible reaction of the progs. True colors revealed.

    Comment by Scott Irwin — January 19, 2015 @ 3:50 pm

  5. Well there goes a progressive diatribe from Jeff Harvey.

    1. Your numbers are sonewhat on the high side to say the least. Even then, nothing to compare to say, the actual genocides carried out in Chechnya, or by Saddam against the Kurds and Marsh Arabs. Also the small fact that the overwhelming majority of deaths are caused by Saddam loyalists and now Islamic nut jobs seems to have escaped you.

    2. Obviously you haven’t seen many films about the Vietnam war, most are pretty condemnatory.

    3. Vietnam was a reaction to the north’s invasion of the south. I wish progressive morons would understand that little difference, but as you either have to be born retarded or have a frontal lobotomy to be a libtard I guess it’s not going to happen.

    4. The young man in question was most definitely a hero.

    Comment by Andrew — January 19, 2015 @ 10:04 pm

  6. @Tim-Glad to make you aware of it. I think you’ll appreciate the movie when it comes to Paris. Yes, as I pointed out in the post Kyle was a volunteer and York was a very reluctant draftee. And York definitely did just react to the situation in which he found himself, whereas Kyle repeatedly put himself in the line of fire.

    There are some men who like combat, and who are born for it. Chris Kyle was one of them. To be known as Legend (his nickname) by SEALS, of all people, is a staggering achievement. SEALS are the small fraction of a 1 percent as it is. To be the SEAL of SEALs is beyond exceptional.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 19, 2015 @ 10:42 pm

  7. @Tim-The scene of York’s action isn’t too far from you. In the Argonne east of Reims. There are two competing groups that have claimed to have found where he fought. The locations are close to one another, but not identical. They have placed markers and created trails setting out their interpretation of York’s movements.

    If you are into that sort of thing.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 20, 2015 @ 12:22 am

  8. SWP,

    Indeed, I am into that sort of thing. I have a fast car and a speed camera detector, I’ll head out there one weekend. Thanks!

    Comment by Tim Newman — January 20, 2015 @ 1:34 am

  9. @Tim-Cool. We sound like kindred spirits. I will send some links that should be of use.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 20, 2015 @ 9:11 am

  10. Well there goes a right wing diatribe from Andrew for you. I am not progressive, but see the truth for what it is. The US is a fully fledged corporate state, and has never embraced democracy in its foreign policy. Read any number of declassidied planning documents and the real story becomes clear. Subjugation of other countries assets, nullification of alternative models to US style corporate capitalism and outright expansionism are the real reasons driving US policy. I think summing up US history as 200 plus years of senselss butchery and democracy deterred is appropriate.

    Some pretty remarkable nonsense in Andrew’s post. Kindergarten level stuff, really. Like implying that the death toll in Iraq as a result of the illegal US invasion is less than the death toll of Kurds under Saddam. My guess is that upwards of a million if you throw the sanctions in constitutes mass murder. Two UN chief officials – Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck – resigned over the US/UK sanctions alone which they described as ‘genocide masquerading as policy’. Also Andrew forgets the inconvenient little fact that Saddam carried out his worst atrocities under full US economic and military support. The US also was happy to support Turkey as it carried out severe repression of Kurds there during the 1990s. US support for vile regimes has always been based on the fact that if they are US client states, they can maiam, torture and kill with impunity. If they are officially desginated enemies, then the whole world must know about their crimes.

    So how do these other US-sponsored or committed massacres grab you: Genocide perpetrated against native Americans circa 16th-19th centuries; Korea, 1860; Phillippines 1899-1902 (600,000 dead0, Cuba 1915-18; Haiti 1918; Korea 1950-53 (2-3 million dead); Viet Nam; Cambodia 1969-1973 (500,000 dead); Nicaragua 1980s, Panama 1989 (3 thousand dead) Iraq, 1990 and 2003-present, as well as the sanctions regime, and of course support for repressive regimes the world over. Bill Blum could do a much more comprehensive tally than me: 50 democratic countries overthrown by the US and more than 50 where populaist movements against dictatorial regimes have been suppressed by the US. Or read the words or prominent planners/politicians like Butler, Kennan, Nitze, Kissinger, Meachling, Carrothers etc, if you want the real truth. Very little of this finds its way into the corporate media which does its job dumbing down the population just fine, whilst supporting the myth of US exceptionalism. As for Viet Nam about the north invading the south, you had me on the floor with that one. The reality is that the south wanted to align with Ho Chi Minh and the north but the US would not allow it. The US clearly could win the war militarily but not politically, just as the French knew the same thing in Algeria in the 1950s. Heck, they droped more tonnage of bombs on Viet Nam and Cambodia than all of the bombs from all sides in WWII combined and they were ousted politically. I guess having B-52s raining bombs down on you is not a good way to win hearts and minds.

    As for snipers being heroes, that is your take. It isn’t mine. But Andrew’s worldview reflects that of the neocons anyway.

    Comment by Jeff Harvey — January 20, 2015 @ 9:32 am

  11. Yes, you are a libtard.
    Your numbers are left wing verbal wanking.
    Iraq body count puts the deaths, including combatants, at around 206,000.

    Nice list. Why don’t you compare it with say, the Russians?
    You want to see a real genocide, try the circassian genocide, the suppression of the Caucasian peoples, Georgians, Chechens, Dagesh etc in the 19th C, the suppression of the Poles. The extermination of the Siberian tribes (hint, bad as what the US did to native Americans, it was NOTHING compared to what Russia did in its territorial expansion). Look at the more than 1,000,000 Afghan dead 1979-1989 from that war. 20 times worse than Afghanistan today.

    I love the way retards such as yourself blame Korea on the US. Who was it who invaded? DPRK. Not the south, not the US, who responded as part of a UN operation one might add.

    Vietnam, once again, Communists invading another state. Actually 3 states with Laos and Cambodia thrown in. Where is your evidence the south wished to align with Ho Chi Minh? Guess you missed the boat people, the Viet Cong reign of terror in the areas the controlled. The reeducation camps, the mass executions etc. Yes, communism, so friendly.

    Funny thing is today, that Vietnam is very pro US, and very anti Russian/China.

    Iraq 1990? Are you really that retarded? Did you miss Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait? The whole international coalition, which actually included a large number of Arab states, and even the (about to collapse) USSR…..

    Looks like your understanding of history is pretty poor. Not surprisingly given you quote Blum.

    Comment by Andrew — January 20, 2015 @ 11:42 am

  12. Then of course we could talk about the Socialist/Communist death toll from 1917 to today. Mid range maybe 144,000,000 people.

    Comment by Andrew — January 20, 2015 @ 11:49 am

  13. Saw it last night, sitting next to some veterans. Their main takeaway seems to have been don’t get married. As one guy put it “Why do you think I’m not married… I had to deal with all that shit when I was in Afghanistan the first time.”

    Comment by JDonn — January 20, 2015 @ 5:46 pm

  14. Spot on SWP, you really hit the nail on the head. Thanks for your work.

    Comment by Chris Zatorski — January 20, 2015 @ 7:28 pm

  15. @Jeff Harvey

    You missed WW II where the U.S. created a true new world order, a free and peaceful Europe, Japan and later Asia. As to the death toll, you missed 3,000 years of military history. As Sherman said, “war is hell”. It’s about killing the enemy until the survivors give it up. Wars end when one side is utterly defeated and exhausted. Deal with it.

    Comment by The Pilot — January 20, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

  16. Just finished the Mead article, definitely a must-read that I am sure I will come back to many times. Powerful insights, made even more interesting when applied to the events of the 15 years since its publication, and the foreign and domestic issues of the period.

    Comment by JDonn — January 22, 2015 @ 1:19 am

  17. Iraq Body Count is a JOKE. Other surveys conducted using tried and trusted methods put the death toll well over 500,000 and even a million. IBC only gave numbers that were reported in the media. Of course this profoundly underestimates the true toll. But if you think ‘only’ 206,000 died as a result of an illegal war, then you are more callous than even I thought. Andrew is so comprehensively stupid that I might as well be responding to an amoeba. He’s clearly airbrushed 200 years of American sponsored carnage out of his head – if it was ever there. His argument is akin to sating, “I may have murdered 50 people but my neighbor murdered 70! He’s the real criminal!!!!”. This kind of logic belongs in the toilet. What makes it worse is that the US – a fully fledged plutocracy – espouses the wonders of democracy whilst not even having one itself. It also continues to support brutal regimes that are veritable client states.

    The rest of the comments here bellowing on about US exceptionalism – given the bellicose truth about US history which is blood soaked and based on the real factors I outlined earlier – are dismissed. That the US created a ‘new world order’ is surely true – one based on nakedly predatory capitalism and free market absolutism (the ‘Washington Consensus’), with the horrific consequences that we see today: the biggest gap between the have’s and have not’s in history, wars scattered around the globe, climate change and rampant environmental destruction, capital flight and increasing power in the hands of the corporate sector. This is America\s gift to the world. Some gift.

    As for American Sniper, I think Rolling Stone sums up Eastwood’s appalling film pretty well:
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/american-sniper-is-almost-too-dumb-to-criticize-20150121

    Comment by Jeff Harvey — January 23, 2015 @ 2:07 am

  18. Comments-
    1) 338 is a very good round for that distance
    2) Sgt York is a great movie
    3) Kyle’s book is great and I wonder if they left the beachball episode out of the movie
    4) Probably will not be able to see the movie until it is available on a flight and then multiple watches planned
    5) Harvey’s diatribes are like a neolib (oxymoron that) version of “The Rest Of The Story”
    6) American military history has now been stained by idiot politicians unwilling to finish the job

    Comment by pahoben — January 23, 2015 @ 5:39 am

  19. Sorry but because of current work I think in bullet points (oh my God I just realized this type of points MUST BE RENAMED).

    Comment by pahoben — January 23, 2015 @ 5:43 am

  20. @Professor-
    Your favorite entrepreneur, Musk, has a new technodoom initiative he is spearheading. The new Global Warming catastrophe is development of a malevolent AI. I am reminded of of Fermi’s famous comment-“Where are their Turing Machines”. This latest technodoom scenario to be consistent with observation would require stringent requirements about our pre eminent technological position in at least the Orion arm.

    Comment by pahoben — January 23, 2015 @ 7:10 am

  21. @pahoben-yes, but a .50 is better. Agreed about Sgt. York one of my favorites. The beachball scene was missing.

    Re 6) unfortunately it happens often enough that it may be that it is a feature of the system. Watching a show about Gulf War I last night, and Bush I definitely fell victim to that. We’re in a hurry to go home.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 23, 2015 @ 6:51 pm

  22. @JDonn-It is an excellent read that I return to repeatedly. And as you say, it has stood the test of time.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 23, 2015 @ 6:58 pm

  23. @Chris Z-Thanks! My pleasure.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 23, 2015 @ 6:58 pm

  24. Really Jeff?

    It would be nice to see you provide the names of such surveys, I suspect one is the lancet survey which was roundly debunked.

    Unfortunately liberasts such as yourself tend to have fascist tendencies, lying being near the top.

    Your inveterate hate of the US puts you in the retarded amoeba category.

    I suspect you have never done anything for your country. Quite the opposite one would think.

    Comment by Andrew — January 24, 2015 @ 8:54 am

  25. Professor, apparently Putin is gearing up for the final act of the war in Ukraine. Russian forces are shelling Mariupol. Rumors are that he plans to create a corridor all the way to Transnistria. Rogozin’s twitter has a photo of him recently meeting with Transnistrian defense minister, joking about putting a Russian aircraft carrier (whatever that is) in the Dniestr river.

    Comment by aaa — January 24, 2015 @ 9:44 am

  26. +++a Russian aircraft carrier (whatever that is) in the Dniestr river+++

    Is that some kind of a joke? I just happened to spend my childhood summers at the mouth of Dniester river… It would be very hard to let a frigate go upstream there, much less a carrier.

    Comment by LL — January 24, 2015 @ 1:35 pm

  27. @LL: That was the joke (and also maybe the idea of a Russian aircraft carrier).

    Comment by aaa — January 24, 2015 @ 3:22 pm

  28. @aaa-I just wrote a post about Putin’s move. I think that a corridor to Crimea is inevitable, and one to Transnistria is a possibility, though probably not imminently.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 24, 2015 @ 3:42 pm

  29. @aaa & @LL: Russian aircraft carriers are a joke, so this joke has many levels.

    And of course Rogozin is a joke, and given the ludicrous things he’s said in the past, he could well believe that the Kuznetsov will come sailing up the Dneister. Or maybe it will fly there.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 24, 2015 @ 4:52 pm

  30. @aaa-Here’s Rogozin’s tweet. He calls a carrier “it” or “he.” Amusing.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 24, 2015 @ 8:58 pm

  31. From his book
    Kyle recounts “I used a .338 on my last deployment. I would have used it more if I’d had it.” He goes on to say, “The bullet shoots farther and flatter than a .50 caliber, weighs less, costs less, and will do just about as much damage. They are awesome weapons.” He was obviously a big fan of the .338 Lapua, and the only drawback he mentioned was “my model’s lack of a suppressor. When you’re shooting inside a building, the concussion is strong enough that it’s a pain – literally. My ears would hurt after a few shots.”

    The rifle on his book cover was a 338

    I think most of his kills were with 300 Win Mag

    I agree flatter doesn’t generally apply to 2100 meters

    Interestingly the record length kills in recent years have used the 338 Lapua round

    Comment by pahoben — January 25, 2015 @ 8:59 am

  32. @pahoben-Interesting. I was aware that the longest shot on record, by a Brit in Afghanistan, was with a .338 Lapua Magnum round. In some ways it’s difficult to compare a shot in the thin, high altitude air of Afghanistan with the heavy air of Iraq. But clearly the Lapua round has range and punch despite the lighter bullet weight and smaller powder charge.

    Re sound/concussion, I can only imagine. A .223 or a .44 magnum fired at an indoor range are pretty bad. I could only imagine what a .338 fired in a closed space would be like.

    Re the .50 cal being used as a sniper weapon. It originated with Kyle’s hero, Carlos Hathcock, who jury-rigged an M2 machine gun with a telescopic sight to turn it into a sniper weapon. How bad ass is that?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 25, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

  33. I think Chris Hedges does a great job deconstructing American Sniper (below). No wonder this wretched film caters to the mind set of the political right. Note how Andrew uses the old tried and trusted trick of claiming that anyone who is critical of America’s appalling foreign policy record ‘hates’ the US. I guess this smear applies to a huge number of Americans as well. They just have to shut up, watch Fox news and swallow dollops of American exceptionalism. As I said, Andrew’s take on his country belongs in the sandbox. He’s probably never heard of Thomas Carrothers, Smedley Butler, George Kennan, or any number of US state planners or politicians who have, intentionally or not, spelled out the real agendas over the years. Instead, Andrew wants to believe in the fairy tales he’s been raised on since he emerged from the womb. His understanding of the real issues is at the level of a comic book. I leave it there.

    http://www.alternet.org/culture/chris-hedges-american-sniper-caters-deep-sickness-rippling-through-society

    Comment by Jeff Harvey — January 27, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

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