How a culture remembers its crimes is important: A review of ‘American Sniper’

US Politics
on 72 Comments

The greatest crime of the twenty-first century so far has come to the big screen, and it’s a hit. American Sniper scored “the top opening of all time for a non-tentpole”, a record that previously belonged to The Passion of the Christ. (A white man beset by hostile Semites: box office gold.) Mel Gibson’s Jesus picture was a piece of medieval incitement; American Sniper is more commercial product than propaganda film, hedging its bets in order not to alienate any potential audience. There’s a generic antiwar undercurrent, but no understanding of the myriad ways in which this specific act of aggression was so monstrous. The conflicting signals were probably part of a strategy to drum up business through controversy, but the movie deserves to be talked about: how a culture remembers its crimes is always of interest. We seem willing to regret the Iraq War, provided that we never have to face it; American Sniper abides by this profitable bargain.

The film is a highly fictionalized version of Chris Kyle’s memoir, the veracity of which is itself questionable: Kyle liked to tell tales of his stateside exploits, too — much easier to fact-check than his war stories — and these have not withstood scrutiny. Stanley Fish once argued that “Autobiographers cannot lie because anything they say, however mendacious, is the truth about themselves, whether they know it or not,” and in a sense of course he’s right. American Sniper the book, which may be close to worthless as historical testimony, is vivid and persuasive as a self-portrait of a dangerous narcissist.

Kyle’s wife, Taya, had his number the moment they met: “You’re arrogant, self-centered, and glory-seeking,” she told him, giving her impression of SEALs in general but nailing her husband’s character in particular. “You lie and think you can do whatever you want.” Kyle, blessed with the superficial charm of the conscienceless, knew exactly how to respond: “He didn’t smirk or get clever or even act offended,” Taya recalls. “He seemed truly…puzzled. ‘Why would you say that?’ he asked, very innocently and genuine… ‘I would lay down my life for my country. How is that self-centered?’”

The movie offers an answer, portraying Chris as addicted to the drug of war. Between tours he seems to suffer not from PTSD so much as combat withdrawal; even as his fellow users start to die, he keeps going back, defying Taya’s pleas for him to stay with his family. “You don’t know when to quit,” she tells him, finally asking, intervention-style, “Do you want to die?” “I do it for you,” he says, but Taya — the film’s emotional and moral authority, far more intelligent and well-adjusted than her husband — rejects this as “fucking bullshit.” (Sienna Miller is somehow excellent in a role that provides no life for her character outside marriage to the hero.) When he rants about the “savages” of Iraq, she informs him, “It’s not about them, it’s about us,” encapsulating the Hollywood ethos: stories are about intimate relationships between “relatable” people, not history or politics or anything larger — even if the lure of patriotism can be used to sell tickets. Chris returns for a fourth tour, only to experience redemption when he breaks down in the middle of a battle and proclaims himself “ready to come home.”

american-sniper-posterIt’s schmaltzy and unsubtle, but it’s not exactly a recruiting poster. In its interpersonal dynamics, American Sniper conveys more sympathy for the skepticism of its “sensitive” characters than for the hero’s worldview. When Chris’s buddy Marc Lee, the repressed conscience of their unit, likens war to grasping an electric fence — “It puts lightning in your bones and makes it hard to hold onto anything else” — even this “dangerous game” truism is lost on “The Legend”: “You wanna invite them to come fight in San Diego?” Chris retorts. “Or Seattle? We’re protecting more than this dirt.” Marc’s dubious expression, and the hint of first doubts on Chris’s own face, makes it plain that the faultiness of this logic is not lost on Eastwood. But too much thinking would spoil the stark confrontation the director evidently was determined to stage. When it comes to warfighting, American Sniper unspools like a Western; almost all the Iraqis onscreen conform to Quentin Tarantino’s appraisal of Native Americans in the films of John Ford: “faceless Indians he killed like zombies.”

It’s hard to know, when watching Eastwood’s Iraq War, where doltish film conventions end and rotten politics begins. (Bushism was an awful lot like an idiotic blockbuster in the first place.) The bits of military exposition are outrageously at odds with the facts, but they also sound so hokey it seems almost stupid to object by citing reality. As Chris and his comrades trundle towards Fallujah, a commander explains that “AQI have put a price on your heads and extremists from around the globe are flooding the borders to collect on it.” No mention of homegrown resistance, which in Fallujah especially was strong. “The city was evacuated,” the officer continues. “Any military-aged male still here, is here to kill you.” Not quite: though Fallujah was subjected to “relentless aerial and artillery bombardment” intended to soften up insurgent positions and drive out the civilian population, “hundreds of men trying to flee the assault” were “turned back by U.S. troops following orders to allow only women, children, and the elderly to leave,” the AP reported. Preventing “all males aged 15 to 55” from escaping Fallujah ensured that the assault would violate the principle of distinction, automatically making it a massive war crime — even before we take into account such illegal tactics as cutting off the water [PDF], storming the hospital, and firing banned incendiary weapons. All of which is missing from American Sniper.

You can argue, fairly enough, that the film presents one soldier’s narrow perspective, and isn’t obliged to present a sweeping picture of the war. The problem is, there’s reason to suspect that snipers were directly implicated in war crimes during battles in which Kyle participated — and not in the sense of “isolated incidents.” The website Current Events Inquiry collected several eyetwiness accounts which agree that U.S. sharpshooters terrorized the residents of besieged cities, firing on civilians, ambulances, and aid workers. Chris Kyle was, of course, “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history”; given the attitudes he openly expresses in his book — extreme racism, total callousness and a lack of reflection or remorse — it would be naive, even for those who don’t recognize the right of Iraqis to resist foreign occupation, not to wonder about the human beings whose snuffed-out lives constitute Kyle’s 160 “confirmed kills” (out of 225 “probable” ones): who were they, what were they doing when they died? Matt Taibbi very perceptively highlights an especially alarming passage in the book: “when one [sniper] in particular began to threaten his ‘legendary’ number, Kyle ‘all of a sudden’ seemed to have ‘every stinkin’ bad guy in the city running across my scope.’ As in, wink wink, my luck suddenly changed when the sniper-race got close, get it? It’s super-ugly stuff.”

But confronting any of these questions would have challenged the audience, which has never collectively reckoned with the war’s fundamental criminality. And since American Sniper is a business proposition, there was zero incentive to do that. Of course, the filmmakers probably don’t view the war as criminal: Eastwood seems to subscribe to the “blunder” interpretation, and my sense from consulting a draft of the script online is that he toned down the screenwriter’s blatant jingoism. But either way, no serious attempt was made to square the storyline with reality. What can you say about an Iraq War movie in which a plan is announced to turn the tide by trapping Sunni Al Qaeda fighters behind a wall, in Sadr City — Baghdad’s famous Shia district? It’s a comic book version of the conflict, an enactment of the vulgar “bad guys” concept of the enemy the U.S. faced.

As for ordinary Iraqi civilians, their suffering is nearly invisible in the film, with one exception: a doomed family that Chris shanghais into helping his hunt for an insurgent known as The Butcher, said to be Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s right-hand man. (This subplot, invented for the film, reflects a preference for foreign fighter-type antagonists over serious engagement with the nature of Iraqi resistance; the other villain, an insurgent marksman called Mustafa, is pointedly said to be Syrian, even though the book, which mentions such a figure briefly, identifies him as Iraqi.) The Butcher terrorizes civilians into non-cooperation with the Americans, torturing and maiming. Chris promises one family “we will give you safety” (after breaking down their door and manhandling the father) if they share what they know; that, plus the prospect of a $100,000 reward, convinces the man to talk.

But the enterprising sniper has to get approval for his plan from HQ, and a smarmy DIA agent insists on using contractors to handle the exchange, not SEAL Team 3 like Chris recommends. (This is one of several Marine Todd-like interactions with an authority figure, a motif that matches the contempt Kyle expressed for the “head shed” in his book.) The result is a total botch: before the Americans can get to them, the Iraqi man and his son are brutally killed by The Butcher, in a set piece involving torture with a drill. Mustafa picks off several Americans from a nearby rooftop, and both villains escape to continue motivating the hero.

It’s a fucked-up scene. Torture, we know, has not been the exclusive province of the enemy in the War on Terror, yet here it stands only for the barbarism of Al Qaeda. But it’s noteworthy that the U.S. military is shown to be responsible for the family’s torment, even if an evil insurgent is holding the drill. The father had pleaded to be left alone, but Chris insisted, then failed to live up to his word. His personal responsibility is somewhat clouded by the DIA guy’s fecklessness, but the sequence is still an acknowledgment that Iraqis paid the price for U.S. adventurism — albeit one subtle enough to pass unnoticed by viewers uninclined to see things that way.

Other departures from the source material accentuate the ill-effects of combat on soldiers. The film invents a brief encounter between Chris and his younger brother Jeff, a recently-deployed grunt who is obviously suffering from severe shell shock. “Fuck this place,” Jeff mutters vacantly, a living shade of his former self. Chris seems troubled but says nothing, and Jeff never reappears. After Marc Lee is killed, ambushed during a gratuitous revenge raid, his mother reads his last letter at the funeral: “My question is, when does glory fade away and become a wrongful crusade, or an unjustified means which consumes one completely? I’ve seen war, and I’ve seen death…” Taya wants to know if Marc ever confided these dark thoughts to Chris, who has obviously reached the inflection point described in the letter; can he see that? But Chris blames Marc’s bad attitude for his death. This is plainly bullshit — the unit walked heedlessly into a trap, after Marc announced their intention to take “an eye for an eye” — except why does the death-haunted guy have to die, while the true believer finds deliverance?

In the end, Marc’s sentiments and the zombified Jeff seem like concessions to respectable liberal opinion, which couldn’t support the gung-ho tenor of the “real” Kyle’s story. It cost the filmmakers almost nothing to insert these subtleties, and they’ve paid off handsomely: David Denby of The New Yorker called American Sniper “a devastating war movie and a devastating antiwar movie, a subdued celebration of a warrior’s skill and a sorrowful lament over his alienation and misery.” Something for everyone, then.

About Eamon Murphy

Eamon Murphy is a journalist in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @epmurph.

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72 Responses

  1. just
    January 23, 2015, 11:12 am

    Thanks, Eamon.

    I already knew I would never watch any Hollywood version of our grotesque & monstrous & criminal Iraq ‘war’. I have been following the fallout of this film via Max Blumenthal’s twitter~ it’s not ‘pretty’.

    A shame that it was made, and a worse shame that it has received such “acclaim”.

    • Walid
      January 23, 2015, 8:54 pm

      Just, the really big shame is that Americans actually believe what they are seeing in these movies. A couple of years back, you had “Argo” about American heroics in saving the 6 Americans in Iran whereas the actual heroic caper was pulled off by Canadians. But after the movie, you’d never convince an American of this important fact. Maybe if the movie would have been about Canadian heroes, it wouldn’t have been a success.

      • just
        January 23, 2015, 11:39 pm

        I know, Walid. I don’t watch these blockbuster movies that glorify these ‘new’ wars and contribute to a false narrative and more Islamophobia.

        I prefer the truth~ always have. The truth is out there, and it’s rather easy to access. Some prefer not to know it, and indulge in rationalization and justification for these terrible debacles.

      • RoHa
        January 24, 2015, 8:26 am

        U571

      • Giles
        January 25, 2015, 12:26 pm

        Apparently reported attacks on Muslims in the USA have tripled since this movie came out.

        Tripled! Yet not a peep from the mainstream media.

        When a single Jew or a handful of Jews get attacked somewhere in Europe or in Israel our media is all over it 24/7.

        Tired of this horrible racism

    • Stephen Shenfield
      January 25, 2015, 7:12 pm

      It reminds me of a point Chomsky often made about the American war in Vietnam. The establishment consider It permissible to question American competence and good judgment, provided the assumption that the US has good intentions is maintained.

  2. Edward Q
    January 23, 2015, 11:47 am

    This sounds like a sniper version of Zero Dark Thirty. It also illustrates the disconnect between Americans and the violence of the U.S. war in Iraq. When the D.C. sniper was terrorizing Washington he was a monster. When Kyle snipes Iraqis its just fine. Kyle sounds like Ilario Pantano, another “hero” who committed his own war crimes in Iraq.

    A few months after the invasion, I read an account by a fraternity member about the return of a sniper from Iraq. This fellow was joking with the other fraternity members about shooting Iraqis for sport.

  3. Sulphurdunn
    January 23, 2015, 12:10 pm

    Never had much use for snipers myself, especially when they play body count games, and the distinction between civilians and combatants gets blurred or lost completely.

    • lysias
      January 24, 2015, 5:49 pm

      I thoroughly sympathized with the Russian sniper Vassily Zaitsev (Jude Law) in Enemy at the Gates. Of course, he was only killing enemy soldiers.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 24, 2015, 5:56 pm

        i liked Jean Reno in the professional

      • Theo
        January 26, 2015, 8:54 am

        Reno is one of my favorit actors.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 26, 2015, 9:41 am

        yeah, hot

      • just
        January 26, 2015, 10:28 am

        Really great actor & great movie.

  4. John O
    January 23, 2015, 12:45 pm

    “when one [sniper] in particular began to threaten his ‘legendary’ number, Kyle ‘all of a sudden’ seemed to have ‘every stinkin’ bad guy in the city running across my scope.’ As in, wink wink, my luck suddenly changed when the sniper-race got close, get it? It’s super-ugly stuff.”

    My first thought on reading this was of the contest between two Japanese lieutenants during the Rape of Nanking to be the first to execute 100 locals:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contest_to_kill_100_people_using_a_sword

  5. gracie fr
    January 23, 2015, 3:32 pm

    Last Year we had Zero Dark Thirty. This year it’s American Sniper. For a good part of the 52 week cycle of entertainment plus reruns, we’ve been treated to “Homeland”. The themes are similar…..”track ’em down and take ’em out… Who now could possibly be reaping the propaganda rewards………??????

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/23/why-is-hollywood-rewarding-claire-danes-and-mandy-patinkin-for-glamorizing-the-cia/

    • Walker
      January 23, 2015, 5:37 pm

      gracie, I really believe that the tolerance that the US public has developed for torture was conditioned by “24 Hours”. It’s a big mistake (or a big lie, depending on the person) to say “it’s just entertainment”.

      • gracie fr
        January 24, 2015, 2:46 pm

        You may be right Walker. But add to the mix the fact that there was never a renowned Congressional authority figure with a following who publically came out against torture during the Bush/Cheney “dark side” reign, all of them being too intimidated by the prospect of ….the next attack….

  6. Keith
    January 23, 2015, 5:04 pm

    For those who are interested in seeing a documentary on what really happened in Iraq, I have linked to one about retired Colonel James Steele, a veteran of the Latin American “dirty wars” who was brought in to Iraq to launch the “Salvadoran option” which turned out to be the beginning of the Sunni/Shia internecine fighting. Hollywood is a big myth-making machine that will never be honest about the US empire. All empires are mass-murder machines.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/mar/06/james-steele-america-iraq-video

  7. Pixel
    January 23, 2015, 5:08 pm

    .
    It’s all about the money.

  8. atime forpeace
    January 23, 2015, 5:51 pm

    Our media is a conveyor belt of propaganda and disinformation.

    To me this movie shows the power that the free press in the United States has and how it misleads it’s people into believing things that lead to murder and mayhem.

    Kyle was a product of this misinformation, he believed that the Iraqi’s were part of the tragedy of 9/11 and he was doing his duty in defending his country.

    In 2015, almost 14 years later, many people in this country still have no idea how these events were orchestrated by the Intel services of this nation and how they used the credibility of men like Colin Powell to present manufactured information to the U.N in order to get the go ahead which led our volunteer military into a war of choice.

    Our press is despicable, it is an echo chamber of propaganda and state manufactured lies, they deserve most of our disdain for what is allowed to happen.

    “The reporters are fully aware and they r engaged in daily self sensorship bcause they know their careers will end immediately if they were actually to ask challenging tough questions to the powers that be. Their media outlets would be denied access to important gov’t figures who they rely on to get their anonymous news source quotes, there would be reprimands repercussions and firings, the reporters know they are part of a system of propaganda.” Brian Becker (the answer coalition)

    • just
      January 24, 2015, 9:17 am

      “Kyle was a product of this misinformation, he believed that the Iraqi’s were part of the tragedy of 9/11 and he was doing his duty in defending his country.”

      If that’s why he signed up and kept going back, he’s an idiot. Anyone with a brain knew that Iraq had nothing to do with 911. Bushco’s lies about WMD were obvious to anyone with even a modicum of reason or curiosity.

      “Chris as addicted to the drug of war. Between tours he seems to suffer not from PTSD so much as combat withdrawal; even as his fellow users start to die, he keeps going back.”

      And that’s what happens sometimes… after it’s ‘over’, some of these folks become contractors (mercenaries).

      Interestingly and frighteningly, I listened to this on NPR/Diane Rehm the other day:

      “In World War II, contractors made up just 10 percent of the military workforce; by the Iraq war, that number had risen to 50 percent. And that number is climbing – not just in the U.S. but worldwide, as governments look to save money and keep casualty numbers down for their own militaries. But what does this trend toward private-run warfare mean for the future of international relations? One former contractor warns that armies-for-hire will soon be the norm, making it easier than ever to wage war. What an increased reliance on private armies could mean for modern warfare and global security.”

      http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2015-01-21/sean_mcfate_the_modern_mercenary

    • philadelphialawyer
      January 24, 2015, 11:44 am

      “Kyle was a product of this misinformation, he believed that the Iraqi’s were part of the tragedy of 9/11 and he was doing his duty in defending his country. ”

      This is why I can’t stand even so called “liberal” accounts of America’s immoral wars.

      First of all, as poster “just” says, one would have to be an idiot to really believe that.

      Secondly, the focus is always on the “tragic” betrayal of the poor American serviceman, who only thought he was doing he was doing his duty, was lied to by mendacious politicians and misused by blundering generals, and thus “lost his innocence.” Well, I don’t give a good god damn about his “lost innocence,” even if that really occurred. I care about the things mentioned in the article that were done at Fallujah, the war crimes at the US prisons, the depleted uranium, not to mention the illegality and immorality of the entire affair. In short, I care a helluva a lot more about the people in Iraq, whose country was unjustly invaded and who were subjected to an oppressive , deadly and society-destroying occupation, than I do about any American soldier (particulary a sniper), armed to the teeth with the latest gizmos and body armor, with a ten to one or more technological and fire power advantage and “backup” in the forms of tanks, planes, artillery, and helicopters at the ready, who came home from the war in one piece, but supposedly “lost his innocence,” even if does have psychological and emotional problems. I’m sure PTSD is real, but, for the life of me, I can’t help but object when US GI PTSD is the main focus, as if it were the worst consequence of the Iraq war, and not the millions of dead, wounded, orphaned, homeless, imprisoned, and oppressed Iraqis.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 24, 2015, 12:27 pm

        i agree

      • just
        January 24, 2015, 1:10 pm

        Well said, indeed.

        (that goes for Afghanistan, too. don’t forget about the torture we inflicted on Iraqis and Afghans, either)

        Anyone interested in a ‘movie’, here’s one: “Taxi to the Dark Side”

      • tree
        January 24, 2015, 4:43 pm

        I’m sure PTSD is real, but, for the life of me, I can’t help but object when US GI PTSD is the main focus, as if it were the worst consequence of the Iraq war, and not the millions of dead, wounded, orphaned, homeless, imprisoned, and oppressed Iraqis.

        Exactly. Sad to say but for too many Americans some people’s lives (i.e. American soldiers) are considered so much more important than others (Iraqis, Afghanis, Vietnamese, etc.)

        And then to compound the moral vacuity, we justify killing those others by celebrating their murders as something heroic, ala “American Sniper”. Every last one of those killed must have been a “bad person” and therefore deserving of death.

        Or else their death was the fault of others of their kind, even though it was our soldiers’ actions that were the proximate cause of their deaths. Much like jons and others who won’t accept that the IDF was and is responsible for thousands of Palestinians’ deaths. It must be the fault of Hamas, or Fatah, or anyone else but the army that actually killed them.

      • Keith
        January 25, 2015, 5:52 pm

        PHILADELPHIALAWYER- “I’m sure PTSD is real….”

        Some additional thoughts. If PTSD is real (and it is) for returning American troops, how should we describe the psychological damage done to the Iraqis who have no ability to eventually escape the ongoing horror of war? And now, the sectarian conflict (ISIS, etc) introduced by the US (the Salvadoran option) into Iraq? Or the complete destruction of the infrastructure of a once relatively modern country? And then, having destroyed their country, their hopes and their relative sanity, criticize them for not being more like us, for withdrawing into radical fundamentalism? The problems of the Muslim Middle East are, in no small measure, the consequence of Western actions, now primarily the US. Is there no end to the hypocrisy of empire?

  9. jd65
    January 23, 2015, 7:33 pm

    Excellent work Eamon. Your phrase “concessions to respectable liberal opinion” and your mentioning of reviewer Denby at the end of the piece reminded me of my reaction to the documentary The Gatekeepers. As absurd as would be, will some/many see American Sniper as a “liberal” film since it doesn’t function purely as an over the top, Sean Hannity style U.S. troops cheerleader?

    Since I have no other outlet, please forgive my indulgence. I guess you never know, maybe someone will find it interesting. Relatedly: my thoughts on Dror Moreh’s documentary:

    The Gatekeepers of Balance

    The moderate to conservative shift and its attendant “balance” myths aren’t only found in politics and journalism. They’re also found in literature and films like Dror Moreh’s documentary The Gatekeepers; and from Moreh himself. Moreh’s film is built around talking-head style interviews with the six remaining former heads of Israel’s elaborate Shin Bet intelligence agency and was ostensibly made as a critique of Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Moreh and his film were touted across the media spectrum as “leftist” and as representing somewhat radically alternative ideas to Netanyahu’s expansionist, conservative government’s policies. For example, this from a New York Times film review: “It is hard to imagine a movie… more challenging to conventional wisdom on all sides of the conflict,” or this from David Denby’s New Yorker magazine review: “…it is obviously intended, among other things, as a challenge to the Netanyahu regime.”

    However, when looked at in more detail, underneath the blogosphere and marketing geared to present this film as a fiercely “progressive” challenge to Netanyahu, it represents nothing radically different from all the status quo attitudes on the conflict and is not a real challenge to Netanyahu’s rhetoric or even his policy. Nor is it truly any different from the rhetoric heard from the U.S. governments. The fact that these Shin-Bet leaders speak generally about being against the occupation and being for a two-state solution isn’t really different from any of the statements constantly coming from most of the U.S. and Israeli politicians. It’s been two decades now that both governments have been talking about being for a two-state solution through the “peace process.” Without stating, unequivocally and at the very least, that the two-state solution will include Palestine regaining their entire pre-67’ West Bank and Gaza Strip (including East Jerusalem), with Israel giving back all of the Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank with all of their settlers leaving, and with Palestine having control of their own borders, air space, land, equitable water distribution, and of course their own autonomous political system – without this being outlined in detail, simply parroting phrases like “the occupation isn’t working,” or “we need a two-state solution” is just blowing smoke; whether it’s a Shin-Bet head or U.S. president. These phrases and others like them have become crutches that prop up the status quo without actually doing anything to fix what is broken, or return what was stolen.

    Ironically, in his review Denby rightly points out that these Shin-Bet heads “…are all hyper-patriots who would do anything to save Israeli lives and to preserve the Jewish state.” It’s ironic because phrases like “hyper-patriots” who “preserve the Jewish State” at all costs would not generally be associated with being progressive or liberal; yet most reviewers and politicos, Denby included, paint this film as just that: very liberal leaning. Another example of the irony from Denby’s review comes when he writes that the Shin-Bet leaders are convinced “that Israel is turning into a colonial power.” Turning into? Truly left or progressive thinkers and activists in 2013, or for that matter any time post June 1967 (I’d argue long before that…), would never refer to Israel as “turning into” a colonial power. It is a colonial project, and has been since it’s inception. For Denby not to point out this reality, or at least suggest that many believe we are well past the point of “turning,” is a good example of the attitudes coming from most of the media in this country.

    But the most obvious sign that Denby (and every other reviewer of The Gatekeepers that I’ve read) has an entrenched, conservative Pro-Israel outlook is that he didn’t notice the film’s use of the term terrorism. Either he didn’t notice, or worse, he noticed and willfully left out the observation. Throughout the film, the term “terrorist” in one form or another is used to describe Palestinians and their actions approximately 40 times, while it is not used once to describe Israelis and their actions. This despite the fact that Jewish Israeli terrorism was detailed in the film (ie: the plot to blow up buses killing hundreds of Palestinians, the plan to blow up The Dome Of The Rock, the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, etc…). Including discussion of these events in the film does contribute to creating a more accurate picture of the violence in the conflict, but it’s difficult to imagine that in the final edit of the film, and during the filming process of the interviews, it wasn’t noticed that the term “terror” was exclusively used to describe Palestinians and never Israelis. To his credit, Moreh has referred to Israeli Jews who commit and plot these crimes as terrorists in subsequent published interviews. But since the majority of people who experience the film will do so through viewing the actual documentary instead of reading/viewing subsequent related media, most folks will only hear the term as applied to Palestinians in the picture. This creates an “unbalanced” and inaccurate picture of the violence employed in the conflict, which is exactly the opposite of what Moreh publicly states as the film’s goal.

    Although Moreh himself seems to have the best of intentions, and often comes off as having a genuine sympathy for the Palestinian situation, he too seems prone to being a conservative who thinks he’s a liberal when it comes to Israel. His mantra on his film, and in his interviews, is the ubiquitous “balance” concept that all the conservative/faux-moderates put forth as their badge of legitimacy and as proof that they too “sympathize with the Palestinians” or “regret any loss of life.” As mentioned before, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is, in reality, quite out of balance in terms of many key aspects: casualties, power balance, economic stability, resource availability, military strength, U.N. veto power, freedom of movement, etc… All of the aforementioned aspects tip in favor of the Israelis. So presenting the conflict as if things between the parties are “balanced” is inaccurate. This response from Moreh on a Democracy Now broadcast illustrates the typical posture of “balance” from conservative/moderates on Palestine:

    “[I]f there is something that I failed while doing this film, it’s that the whole situation is different shades of grey. There is no really total aggressive person there or aggressive entity towards a very innocent and not violent entity on the other side. It’s both. Both are doing the worst that they can. I think that I can relate to what Abba Eban said once, our former Prime Minister. He said that the Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I can say that on both sides. Both sides have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

    This response promoting the so-called “balanced” view where both sides are always painted as having equal culpability does nothing to promote true understanding of the actual details of the conflict. A more accurate statement, using the term “both” in a very different way to refer to Palestinians and Israelis, comes from Professor Noam Chomsky: “If you look at them both, you’ll find… the balance of terror and violence is overwhelmingly against the Palestinians.” This truth is almost never acknowledged in mainstream circles.

    Interestingly, the “balance” canard seems to come into play most often on the heels of some serious offense committed by Israel, which is too large to be ignored; as opposed to many of their daily offenses which remain scrupulously unmentioned. Or it comes into play when an unconditional supporter of Israel, or faux-moderate, is simply confronted with the immorality and illegality of the occupation or any number of Israel’s actions and policies. This was the case with Moreh’s response quoted above. It was part of his response to a question about a targeted attack on Hamas military leader Salah Shehade which also killed 14 innocent civilians, including the target’s wife and daughter, and wounding dozens of others. Discussed in Moreh’s film, the attack “occurred just as Shehade was reportedly preparing to sign onto a ceasefire halting attacks on Israelis not in occupied territories.” Although everything Moreh was asked about leading up to his response related specifically to content from his own film, he still felt it wasn’t fair to his film, or to the Israelis:

    “Well, look, I—I have to say that I a little bit feel uncomfortable in the way that you present the things here, because you portray the things as if Israel is the brutal, aggressive all the time, with the Palestinians, that they are like doves. There is reason why the Shin Bet is doing what it’s doing there. And the fact of the matter is that you cannot say—in a way, portray Israel as the aggressive and the Palestinians are the innocent bystander who are always being killed by those aggressive forces. It’s not the case at all, and I think that this is misleading the people that are watching that… If you portray only one side as the brutal, aggressive force and the other one as the innocent naive, you are doing wrong to the truth or to the facts on the ground. And I have to say that this is something which my movie tried to do very, very strongly: to portray the situation as it is. The Palestinians are doing terrorist attack. They have right to do, in a way, something which they want to create their own country, their own homeland, and they oppose the aggressive occupation… [W]hen you portray that as the Palestinians are people that are sitting there, you know, and not doing anything, it’s not the reality on the ground. And by that, you have to show both sides, because I think that when you do that, you portray only one side. And I said that before. It’s—you have to be balanced. And this is something that I felt that is not so much here.”

    I felt it necessary to include Moreh’s response at length here because it’s instructive to see in context. He’s saying his Democracy Now hosts are presenting a biased news report; that they’re not being balanced and that they’re presenting Israel in an unrealistically negative and “unbalanced” light. And just as in his film (40 times to zero), Moreh refers to the Palestinians here as terrorists, but not the Israelis. However, Moreh’s entire reason for being on the show, and presumably the entire reason for his making the film, was to show the negative aspects of Israel’s occupation of Palestine and to challenge its very legitimacy. Why would a person who made a film designed to expose the negative aspects of a military occupation feel that it’s unfair to be asked to speak on these aspects during an interview? I think it may be because underneath all his rhetoric and film-making, Moreh still sees the occupation as more of a retaliation than an attack. Decades of hasbara has done its job. And this is the general position of all Israeli apologists and myth-makers: Israel is “defending itself.” It’s not a coincidence that you could cherry pick this quote from Moreh’s response above: “…the situation as it is. The Palestinians are doing terrorist attack.” It’s also not a coincidence that Moreh uses this phrasing in his interview: “And this is the whole goal of The Gatekeepers. The Gatekeepers portrays Israeli occupation in the last 45 years and basically says, ‘Enough of that. It’s not going anywhere. It’s only tactic without strategy. Where do you want to go with this conflict ahead?’”ix It’s meaningful that Moreh doesn’t flat out say that the occupation is wrong, shouldn’t have happened, or is illegal. He simply says it isn’t “going anywhere,” or, in other words, that it isn’t working. What would a “working” Israeli occupation look like? Is figuring out a way to have a military occupation “work” something a person who is truly interested in equal rights want? Or, for that matter, something a truly “liberal” or progressive person would want? The mindset that feels Israel needs to change course because it’s not achieving its goals of a workable military occupation is a very different one from the mind which feels military occupations are fundamentally wrong.

    Unfortunately, I think this gives us a window into Moreh’s real thinking and maybe even the truer, possibly unconscious, goal of his film. What is purported to be a condemnation of the occupation actually turns into something of a rationalization. It’s not unusual for Israelis to have conflicted feelings over their country. In fact, Moreh contradicts himself right within the above quote. First he says, “…you can’t portray Israel as the aggressive…,” then a moment later he says the Palestinians “…oppose the aggressive occupation.” It seems that he knows on the one hand that, yes, in reality, Israel is the aggressor in this situation. After all, it is an illegal military occupation. But on the other hand, he’s unable to fully let go of all the “Israel has a right to exist/self-defense” propaganda that’s he’s been fed over the decades. So he ends up fighting against himself. The “balancing” of the conversation tends to be used as a way to mitigate Israel’s crimes. Even though it may often be a subconscious technique: When an overtly violent act is perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis, it’s fine to simply talk about that isolated act. But when an overtly violent act is perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians (as is more often the case), “balance” must be struck by bringing up past actions by Palestinians to give the discussion the proper perspective.

  10. JWalters
    January 23, 2015, 7:49 pm

    I happened to read “American Sniper” a few months ago, curious about the author’s mindset. He was woefully under-educated, saw the world in absurdly stark black and white terms, and believed all the Muslims he was shooting were evil and deserved to die, even children. An easily manipulated person.

    • PeaceAddict
      January 24, 2015, 6:48 pm

      Isn’t it just swell how this character is glorified with a movie costing millions to make, and a it being a blockbuster? Are we agreeing to this sort of humiliation and denigrating of another people by glorifying it? How does this get viewed and digested on the other side of the coin? I just wonder…

  11. andrew r
    January 23, 2015, 7:52 pm

    This description of American Sniper reminds me of Munich, which tried to make a humanitarian point and said a whole lot of nothing apart from “Israelis are nice killers”. And likewise, Palestinians in that movie had no character other than jabbering about the liberation of Palestine. We’re never going to get any more than this crap from Hollywood.

    • Marnie
      January 26, 2015, 12:12 am

      Of course because the only function of Hollywood is hasbara. Israelis and american soldiers will always be portrayed as righteous, upstanding, loyal, macho patriots who do no wrong and whose missions are always clean and they only kill “bad” (Muslim) people (including many thousands of noncombatants) .

      “Sand Creek was a village of approximately 800 Cheyenne Indians in southeast Colorado. Black Kettle, the local chief, had approached a United States Army fort seeking protection for his people. On November 28, 1864, he was assured that his people would not be disturbed at Sand Creek, for the territory had been promised to the Cheyennes by an 1851 treaty. The next day would reveal that promise as a baldfaced lie.

      On the morning of November 29, a group called the Colorado Volunteers surrounded Sand Creek. In hope of defusing the situation, Black Kettle raised an American flag as a sign of friendship. The Volunteers’ commander, Colonel John Chivington, ignored the gesture. “Kill and scalp all, big and little,” he told his troops. With that, the regiment descended upon the village, killing about 400 people, most of whom were women and children.

      The brutality was extreme. Chivington’s troops committed mass scalpings and disembowelments. Some Cheyennes were shot while trying to escape, while others were shot pleading for mercy. Reports indicated that the troops even emptied their rifles on distant infants for sport. Later, Chivington displayed his scalp collection to the public as a badge of pride.”

      “Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! … I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God’s heaven to kill Indians. … Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.”

      —- Col. John Milton Chivington

      It should be no wonder at all that the United States and Israel have a “special relationship”. Mass murderers have to stick together and the Hollywood hasbara machine must continue to roll out year after year a major propaganda epic to extol that.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 26, 2015, 1:03 am

        marnie, you might like this non hollywood movie. very powerful — DAKOTA 38 “the largest mass execution in United States history” (albiet that would depend on how one defines “execution”) because cumulatively it’s so many many many more.

  12. bilal a
    January 23, 2015, 9:49 pm

    How we forgot the crimes of American Rotherham , ‘stunning’:

    MJ Rosenberg [email protected] 3h3 hours ago

    Papantonio: The Plot Thickens in the Dershowitz-Epstein Story: http://youtu.be/Z6JmkAlrZic via @YouTube
    0 replies 1 retweet 4 favorites

    stevemcauliffe [email protected]

    @MJayRosenberg @YouTube Stunning revelations re. Epstein/ Dershowitz /Prince Andrew/ Israeli PM – stunning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6JmkAlrZic&feature=youtu.be

    https://twitter.com/beholdcosmicwav/status/558790089879588864

    • CloakAndDagger
      January 24, 2015, 2:49 pm

      @ bilal a

      Not only have we not forgotten this, but I hunt the world for news on this everyday. This is much bigger than most people understand and would blow the lid off of the corruption in our government and other governments and bring the entire Israel lobby down on its knees.

      The video you linked to is amazing:

      It is a pity that this kind of discussion only happens on sites like RT and not locally. But, it doesn’t matter any more – the dark-side™ has overreached and is battling on several fronts. The fact that the dershbag was able to pull off an immunity deal is going to be devastating to the lobby and a whole bunch of politicians who have been blackmailed in the process.

      This ain’t going away, no siree! This is probably the most important event unfolding in a long time and will be the keystone that will bring down the entire power configuration of the lobby.

      Phil/Annie – I hope that you guys will continue to follow this as you have done. This could be the biggest story of our lifetime.

      • just
        January 24, 2015, 5:10 pm

        Speaking of RT, have you seen this?

        “Earlier this week, the new chief of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Andrew Lack, told the New York Times that RT poses a significant challenge for his organization, putting it on the same list as ISIS and Boko Haram terror groups.

        BBG is a bipartisan US federal agency, which is responsible for supervising all American government-sponsored international media – from Voice of America to Radio Free Europe.”

        http://rt.com/news/225943-bbg-cullum-andrew-lack/

      • Daniel Rich
        January 24, 2015, 9:26 pm

        @ CloakAndDagger,

        Q: This ain’t going away, no siree!

        R: It looks like the entire tribe has pulled rank and closed the gates to true justice, so I’m convinced this will [unfortunately] blow over.

        Many people are [somehow] convinced that most pedophiles tend to be ‘blue collar’ lowlifes. As this case proves, it runs mostly all he way to the top and that’s what makes it so scary, because, where [or to whom] are the victims to turn to?.

      • Keith
        January 25, 2015, 5:05 pm

        CLOAK AND DAGGER- “This could be the biggest story of our lifetime.”

        Something which hasn’t been adequately discussed is the role of Epstein’s procurer Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of Robert Maxwell. Robert was a one time Mossad asset/agent. While it has been noted that Epstein was likely collecting material for possible blackmail, the emphasis has been on personal benefit. Methinks that the Mossad’s fingerprints are all over this. Also, out of curiosity, I can’t help wondering if Epstein/Maxwell ever utilized a Jewish juvenile, or where they always underage Shikses?

      • Marnie
        January 26, 2015, 12:50 am

        “Dershowitz has moved into some dangerous territory….” It will be interesting to see how dangerous it is for Dershowitz, but my fear is that the only danger is to the women who were violated as teenagers are only being violated again because they are up against the uber-wealthy, who are going to pull out all the stops to avoid prosecution. Harrassing their familes and bribes are just the tip of the iceberg with these psychopaths.

      • CloakAndDagger
        January 26, 2015, 12:52 pm

        @ Keith

        Something which hasn’t been adequately discussed is the role of Epstein’s procurer Ghislaine Maxwell

        There is a lot that is not being discussed, and I suspect that the lawyers know what they are doing. There is a stash of evidence that has been hinted at without revealing its content. I bet the lawyers don’t want to tip their hand too early and try the case in the media, instead they will wait to deliver their hammer-blows in the courtroom. I am waiting for the revelations of the videos from Epstein’s house.

        The biggest story, however, is the power of the dark-side™ to make what could have been a life-term in prison go away secretly. That is huge, and the centerpiece of the power configuration. Kill that and you have killed the beast.

    • just
      January 24, 2015, 3:18 pm

      holy moly.

      Blow the lid off, please!

    • Marnie
      January 26, 2015, 7:37 am

      Annie – couldn’t make a reply to your post so hitched on here but thanks for Dakota 38 –

  13. Daniel Rich
    January 23, 2015, 11:47 pm

    A wise woman once said, “This chain around my neck is only as strong as its weakest link…”

    If the record numbers of [American Sniper] visitors are anything to go by, one might argue that there isn’t anything left to cling on to.

    I’ve always liked Clint, but this film is a very dishonest distortion of the truth. One in which the ‘good guys’ [us/US] protect the world against the ‘bad guys’ [AQ jihadists] flying planes into buildings and if there are 50 shades of grey, this flick has only 2; black and white.

    Saddam Hussein. Who?
    WMDs. Wendy McDonald?
    Dick Cheney. Never heard of that dude.
    Bush. Yeah, I saw a burning one in the dessert desert.
    Rumsfeld. Wasn’t he that Chicago Bears tight end?

    When 500,000 dead Iraqi kids are a price ‘we’ are willing to pay…

    Can someone pinch me? I can’t wake up form this self perpetuating nightmare…

  14. Laurent Weppe
    January 24, 2015, 4:52 am

    The film is a highly fictionalized version

    Of a fictional memoir written by a man who fought a war justified with fictional reasons: at least the movie is thematically coherent.

  15. Citizen
    January 24, 2015, 7:06 am

    And there was that German soldier in Quentin T’s movie, bragging about sniping 200 Americans; chest full of medals, treated like a rock star.

  16. just
    January 24, 2015, 9:49 am

    And this is what we left behind in Iraq:

    “U.S., allies bomb ISIS targets near Kobani and Mosul”

    https://twitter.com/haaretzcom/status/558991979724275713

    Never mind the children born with horrific birth defects, the many pictures of victims of our munitions, the alarming rate of cancer…

    One sample article from 2013:

    “U.S. Depleted Uranium as Malicious as Syrian Chemical Weapons

    …”Noting the birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, Jamail says: ‘They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to … What this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were d’ pped on at the end of World War II.'”

    …Countries around the world have called for the ban of depleted uranium, but unfortunately this demand has fallen on deaf ears. When asked in 2003 about Iraq’s complaints about depleted uranium shells, Colonel James Naughton of U.S. Army Material Command stated in a Pentagon briefing that “They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of the them.”

    Last week, UK foreign secretary William Hague, said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is “not something that a humane or civilized world can ignore.” Ironically, Western countries such as the UK and their allies have appeared to ignore the use of weapons that are equally vicious.

    When “non-Westerners” make use of weapons of mass destruction, there is outrage and calls for military intervention from “the West,” but when “Westerners” themselves use them, it is totally permissible, and the world can hardly react.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-considine/us-depleted-uranium-as-ma_b_3812888.html

    There’s so much evidence of crimes.

    • Walid
      January 24, 2015, 10:34 am

      “Colonel James Naughton of U.S. Army Material Command stated in a Pentagon briefing that “They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of the them.” ”

      Just, they won’t admit it, but it’s there staring them in the face. There are about 200,000 American veterans of the 2 Gulf wars currently suffering from ailments associated with exposure to depleted uranium, which the US government is refusing to acknowledge. In both wars, the US dumped over 400 tons of depleted uranium munitions all over Kuwait and Iraq and US soldiers that handled these munitions as well as those exposed to bombed areas on the battlefields are today suffering from it. It took the US government 40 years to acknowledge the radiation suffered by the soldiers during the testing of the first fission bombs. Ironically, the Israeli army also handled tons of depleted uranium that were dumped on Gaza and Lebanon in 2006 and in subsequent years on Gaza and by next year, the ailments associated with exposure to radiation should start appearing among Israeli veterans; it takes about 10 years for the symptoms to show up.

      Problems of US veterans with radiation discussed:

      http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2006/08/12/is_an_armament_sickening_us_soldiers/?page=full

      • just
        January 24, 2015, 11:03 am

        As the article points out, the Pentagon & PTB are the very last to admit any wrongdoing/responsibility.

      • RockyMissouri
        January 24, 2015, 11:10 am

        THANK YOU!

  17. just
    January 24, 2015, 2:10 pm

    via Max B’s twitter:

    “As American Sniper continues to ignite political debate, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is worried about “serious threats” being made to Arabs and Muslims.

    ADC president Samer Khalaf writes that he hopes the film will take a stance and issue a statement against the “hate and bigotry.” The ADC says it is also working with the FBI and local law enforcement to look into the threats.

    So far, no comment from the American Sniper film team.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2015/01/23/adc-warns-american-sniper-death-threats-arabs-muslims/22210521

    There’s some very ugly stuff flying around.

  18. just
    January 24, 2015, 4:56 pm

    “Soldiers traumatized by Gaza war forced to cope on their own
    Only after they came home from last summer’s operation in Gaza did reservists in an infantry battalion realize they were suffering psychological problems. But the army did little to answer their pleas for help.

    The landing of a mortar shell was the company’s welcome to the Gaza Strip. The soldiers entered the battle zone on foot, after an air force raid. The mortar struck a few meters from them immediately after they crossed the fence into Gaza.

    “That was the first shock,” says Ami (all soldiers’ names have been changed), an officer in the auxiliary weapons company (pluga misaya’at) of an infantry battalion. “We suddenly found ourselves under fire, when we’d been certain that not even a cat was left there.”
    ……..
    Ami is a veteran in the unit; he’s been doing reserve service in it for more than 20 years. “I did my regular duty during all those beautiful years of the Lebanon war [during the 1980s], but this is not the same thing,” he explains.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.638477?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    wth? “all those beautiful years of the Lebanon war” ??? who thinks like that???

    • oldgeezer
      January 24, 2015, 5:19 pm

      Salughter and oppress innocent civilians for fun and profit.

      A sociopath or psychopath thinks like that.

    • just
      January 24, 2015, 8:06 pm

      I just realized that the article that I linked to is behind the premium wall, so I will post this insane part as well. Try not to cry or gag :

      “After the dramatic beginning of their involvement in the war, the reservists in question spent another five days in the Strip. They searched for tunnels and also advanced from house to house, capturing those targets with gunfire before entering them.

      “Most of the inhabitants had already fled, but there was one case when we fired a missile into a house and then heard the crying of a baby,” Ami relates. “That was a total shock, especially to the fathers among us. We stopped shooting and called on the residents with a loudspeaker to come out. We were afraid that the house was booby-trapped. We chose a few guys to go in, guys we could trust to go in gently, without shooting, unless they ran into a terrorist. They expected to find the body of a child, or of one of the parents, but they had managed to escape.”

      After a house is seized under such circumstances, the soldiers generally rest in it – though they do not manage to sleep.

      “There are 40-50 guys on one floor. No running water, no toilet. A terrible stench of sweat and feces. You don’t sleep for a week out of sheer pressure. The smell of death is everywhere,” Ami says. “Still, there’s a lot of excitement. Non-stop laughter. You don’t feel afraid. People functioned amazingly.””

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.638477

      • a blah chick
        January 24, 2015, 8:34 pm

        “There are 40-50 guys on one floor. No running water, no toilet. A terrible stench of sweat and feces. You don’t sleep for a week out of sheer pressure. The smell of death is everywhere,” Ami says. “Still, there’s a lot of excitement. Non-stop laughter. You don’t feel afraid. People functioned amazingly.””

        Anybody else detect a note of “whistling past the graveyard,” in that excerpt? And what does it say about men who can engage in “non-stop laughter” while smelling death and feces?

        Sick.

  19. just
    January 24, 2015, 5:59 pm

    “American Sniper continues to draw record-breaking audiences as it barrels into its second weekend in wide release, but a group representing Arab-Americans says the rate of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim threats resulting from the Oscar-nominated war film has already tripled.

    …..But its all-American depiction on screen has drawn heavy criticism from combat veterans and viewers alike – and especially about viewers themselves, many of whom have emerged from theatres desperate to communicate a kind of murderous desire.

    A quick search on Twitter leads down a rabbit hole of anger.

    “Great fucking movie and now I really want to kill some fucking ragheads,” read one tweet, in a set of screenshots that quickly went viral after being collated by journalist Rania Khalek for the online publication Electronic Intifada. “American sniper makes me wanna
    go shoot some fuckin Arabs,” read another.

    One tweet read: “Nice to see a movie where the Arabs are portrayed for who they really are – vermin scum intent on destroying us.” While the word “vermin” is not uncommon in threads about the film, that tweet was tagged not only #AmericanSniper but, mystifyingly, #DeBlasio as well.

    Even the actor James Woods got in on the action, tweeting: “Every time an American Armed Forces sniper pulls a trigger, those who would kill or maim an American warrior are no longer a threat.””

    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jan/24/american-sniper-anti-muslim-threats-skyrocket

    This is gross and dangerous.

    • Walid
      January 24, 2015, 6:12 pm

      The more there are criticisms and complaints about this movie, the more people will rush to see it. Those Arab-Americans making a stink about the movie are only fueling it more and more.

    • Marnie
      January 26, 2015, 12:59 am

      I am cynical and I say the point of making the movie “American Sniper” was simply for it to be a recruiting tool, and therefore provide a steady supply of useful idiots to be available for the next war and the next war and the next war…………….. Hollywood’s only mission is hasbara. Mission accomplished.

      James Woods “American warrior” remark is nauseating.

  20. Boomer
    January 24, 2015, 6:07 pm

    @ just “Earlier this week, the new chief of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Andrew Lack, told the New York Times that RT poses a significant challenge for his organization, putting it on the same list as ISIS and Boko Haram terror groups.” [no reply button]

    That’s amazing. Given that hardly any Americans read RT, it shows much our rulers depend on controlling the narrative, and that they know how reality often diverges from their version. Otherwise, they wouldn’t feel threatened by RT. Of course, Al Jazeera is much the same, but has been defanged somewhat, and generally impeded . . . as if Americans were going to watch it anyway.

    I found it so amazing, that I went to NYT to verify the RT version and sure enough:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/us/broadcasting-board-of-governors-names-chief-executive.html?_r=2

    Curious to know more about him, I looked for a bio:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=843678&privcapId=160210 Bloomberg, Sony, CBS, NBC, et al. Yep, he knows something about putting out the right narrative.

    • just
      January 24, 2015, 6:24 pm

      I did the same before posting that… I watched a segment on RT live and was floored. I thought they were pulling my leg~ not at all.

      Terrible.

      • Boomer
        January 24, 2015, 7:52 pm

        I tried searching for “Palestinian” on Google News today. The results were even worse than I expected. One decent op-ed at HuffPo; a couple of negative op-eds in rightwing sources, the rest all from foreign sources, or sources aimed at Jewish audiences. Results might differ on other days, or with a slightly different search word, but not much, I suspect. For the general U.S. audience, Palestinians are not on the radar screen.

      • Walid
        January 25, 2015, 12:22 am

        “I suspect. For the general U.S. audience, Palestinians are not on the radar screen. ”

        You can say the same thing about the general Arab audience, Boomer, there each one is too preoccupied with his own pains and aches to give a second thought to what the Palestinians are suffering. It isn’t any wonder that Israek sees that it’s got a free hand to do as it wills on the hapless Palestinians.

  21. Boomer
    January 25, 2015, 9:26 am

    NPR this morning had a story about using video games to teach about topics as diverse as the price of oil and the war in Syria. “Virtual games try to generate real empathy for faraway conflict”

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2015/01/25/379417927/virtual-games-try-to-generate-real-empathy-for-faraway-conflict

    I wondered if such an instructional game might be produced for the Israel/Palestine conflict. Of course, getting schools in the U.S. to use it might be as difficult as getting MSM to cover Gaza, unless the game were biased in favor of the Zionist narrative, so it might need to be produced and distributed in some way outside the typical state/local educational bureaucracy.

  22. CigarGod
    January 25, 2015, 9:40 am

    All i can think about is Leni Riefenstahl.
    Nice company to keep…Clint and the rest who put this film together….

    • Marnie
      January 26, 2015, 1:05 am

      I liked Eastwood’s movies – Million Dollar Baby, Changeling, Absolute Power, Unforgiven – what happened to that Clint Eastwood? Oh right, he was the silly old man at the republican convention talking to a chair. Nevermind.

  23. ApolloSpeaks
    January 26, 2015, 12:54 pm

    THE OVERTHROW OF A BRUTAL STALIN-LIKE PAN-ARAB RACIST DICTATOR

    who was responsible for the deaths and injuries of millions of people, and in violation of 17 UN Resolutions on his missing stockpile of WMDs, was the greatest crime of the 21st century? If so why then did the UN Security Council vote 14-0 (Res.1483) empowering the “criminal” US led occupying forces with the authority to govern Iraq and keep the peace? Moreover. how could Chris Kyle be a murderous psychpathic war criminal when the people he killed were war criminals under Res. 1483?

    Click or google http://www.apollospeaks com for my groundbreaking defense of Chris Kyle.

  24. jd65
    January 26, 2015, 5:25 pm

    Up today from The Real News and Max Blumenthal:

    Edit: tried to play the embedded vid here and I get a message that the owner disallowed embedding. Go to youtube to watch if interested. Simply type in Max Blumenthal, limit results to “this week,” and it’ll be easy to find. Worth a watch as Max is, as usual, illuminating, informative, and pulls no punches.

  25. Boomer
    January 26, 2015, 6:49 pm

    It’s by Judi Rudoren, and it’s about a film censored by Israel, but still it’s worth reading: “Disillusioned by War, Israeli Soldiers Muted in 1967 Are Given Fuller Voice.” Her review of the film “Censored Voices,” which just opened at Sundance, begins:

    “TEL AVIV — A young Israeli soldier, fresh from the front, bluntly recounts the orders from above. “They never said, ‘Leave no one alive,’ but they said, ‘Show no mercy,’ ” he explains. “The brigade commander said to kill as many as possible.”

    “Another recalls encountering Arabs on rooftops. “They’re civilians — should I kill them or not?” he asks himself. “I didn’t even think about it. Just kill! Kill everyone you see.” And a third makes it personal: “All of us — Avinoam, Zvika, Yitzhaki — we’re not murderers. In the war, we all became murderers.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/26/world/disillusioned-by-war-israeli-soldiers-muted-in-1967-are-given-fuller-voice.html?_r=0

    • Walid
      January 26, 2015, 8:38 pm

      “… ‘Leave no one alive,’ but they said, ‘Show no mercy,’ ” he explains. “The brigade commander said to kill as many as possible.”… Just kill! Kill everyone you see.” … The wrenching, taped testimony is not from last summer’s bloody battle in the Gaza Strip but from the 1967 war,… “(NYT Review)

      Not as it was in last summer’s assault on Gaza but as it was at the start of Cast lead, as Israeli soldiers were instructed to do so by the rabbis in the Israeli military.

      From Max Blumenthal: “In 2008, when the IDF’s chief rabbi, Brigadier General Avichai Ronski, brought a group of military intelligence officers to Hebron for a special tour, he concluded the day with a private meeting with Lior, who reveled the officers with his views on modern warfare: “no such thing as civilians in wartime.” (For his part, Ronski has urged Israeli troops to show Palestinian civilians “no mercy.”)

      Blumenthal also recalls: ““When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe,” Soffer argued. “Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.” And that is exactly what Israel did when it followed Soffer’s logic in Operation Cast Lead. (Note the use of the word “animal” in Soffer’s language and in the language of Israelis responding to the murders in Itamar; the word is essentially a signal to kill Palestinians indiscriminately)

      While Soffer and Kasher have both served as outside consultants for Israeli governments and the army, another advocate for slaughtering Palestinian civilians, Yaakov Amidror, has been appointed to serve as Benjamin Netanyahu’s National Security Advisor. “That’s a totally illegal order,” Amidror once snapped at Israeli news anchor Haim Yavin, who had said that Israeli soldiers were instructed to avoid civilian casualties in Lebanon. “What should be said is ‘kill more of the bastards on the other side, so that we’ll win.’ Period.” Amidror has criticized Kasher for formalizing the army’s ethical code — “I said this should remain unwritten, so there wouldn’t be anything written, …”

      http://maxblumenthal.com/tag/dov-lior/

  26. michelle
    January 31, 2015, 1:26 am

    .
    when i heard Clint Eastwood i hoped for more
    .
    Ref.,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_from_Iwo_Jima
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flags_of_Our_Fathers_(film)
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

    • jd65
      January 31, 2015, 2:45 am

      Yeah, Michelle. I’m also a big fan of a lot of Eastwood’s work. So I immediately thought of those two as well. However, I wouldn’t hold your breath for Letters from Fallujah.

      I’m also a big fan of Cooper as an actor. And as ironic as it is, since I have a lot of the same problems everyone else here has w/ this film, I felt Cooper’s performance was incredible. Close to perfect really. Sometimes I can divorce politics from art. Sometimes I can’t. While I was watching this movie I was able to separate them enough to see Cooper’s performance on it’s own. Less so w/ Eastwood’s direction here as he, apparently, made all the decisions which turned this into a very manipulated propaganda piece. Hard to overlook that. Easier to overlook that in Cooper’s performance as he is “just an actor” and doing what he’s told to do and reading what he’s given. More likely than not, Cooper is onboard w/ the propaganda. Unfortunate.

      That being said, I don’t know if I’ll be able to see Eastwood or Cooper’s work in the future without having the thought “War propagandist” hanging in the back of my head. Like listening to Wagner if you know what I mean… I now have a similar problem w/ actors Chastain and Renner (Zero Dark Thirty, Hurt Locker) Particularly Chasten as Zero Dark was sooooooo out of line.

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