‘Seeing ‘American Sniper‘ Made the State of the Union Speech Pretty Unbearable’Posted: January 21, 2015
Obama’s American Sniper
Dan Henninger writes: Barack Obama was 15 minutes into his State of the Union speech when I arrived home to watch it, having just walked back from seeing “American Sniper.”
“Watching a movie about a Navy SEAL who served four tours fighting in Iraq was not the best way to enhance the experience of a Barack Obama speech. As a matter of fact, it was pretty unbearable.”
Because Clint Eastwood directed “American Sniper” the movie is about more than the story of Chris Kyle, the highly skilled rifle marksman from Texas. In 2006, Mr. Eastwood presented two movies about the famous World War II battle of Iwo Jima. “Letters from Iwo Jima” told the story from the perspective of Japanese soldiers, and “Flags of Our Fathers” from the Americans’ side.
“Watching “American Sniper,” it is impossible to separate these catastrophes from seeing what the Marines did and endured to secure northern Iraq. Again, anyone is entitled to hate the Iraq war…”
So “American Sniper” is not a crude paean to “our boys” in the Iraq war. What it does is convey the extraordinary personal, psychological and physical sacrifice of the U.S. Marines who fought al Qaeda i”n Fallujah, Ramadi and the other towns of Iraq’s Anbar province beginning in 2003 and through the period of the Anbar Awakening, which ended with the Marines pacifying the province.
“…But no serious person would want a president to make a decision that would allow so much personal sacrifice to simply evaporate…”
It’s just a movie, so even “American Sniper’s” small slice only hints at the price America paid—some 3,500 combat deaths and another 32,000 wounded—to bring Iraq to a point of relative, if fragile, stability in 2011.
“…Which, in his serene self-confidence, is what Barack Obama did. That absolute drawdown was a decision of fantastic foolishness.”
Opinions will differ, often bitterly, on the war in Iraq and the reasons for it. In the movie, a painful funeral scene captures that ambivalence. But what is just not possible to choke down is President Obama’s decision in 2011 to reduce the U.S.’s residual military presence to virtually zero. It was a decision to waste what the Marines and Army had done.
Announcing the decision at the White House on Oct. 21, Mr. Obama said, “After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.” (Emphasis added.)
Military analysts at the time, in government and on the outside, warned Mr. Obama that a zero U.S. presence could put the war’s gains and achievements at risk. He did it anyway and ever since Mr. Obama has repeatedly bragged about this decision in public speeches, notably to the graduating cadets of West Point last May.
In January, months before that West Point speech, the terrorist army of Islamic State, or ISIS, seized back control of both Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province. The month after the West Point speech, the city of Mosul and its population of one million fell to Islamic State, and here we are with the barbarians on the loose there, in Yemen, in Nigeria and in France….(read more)
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