American Sniper's Most Pernicious Lie is the One No One's Discussing
During the initial invasion in March 2003 our hero fights "al Qaeda in Iraq", over a year before AQI even existed - lumping Saddam with 9/11 and perpetuating a dangerous Neocon fantasy.
American Sniper has gotten lots of negative feedback from those who see it as being both a whitewash and a jingoistic claptrap.
- This, of course, led to the typical back-and-forth that falls across lazy party lines and ultimately ends up with "aren't both sides sorta right?" pablum like this from The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern:
- But the film's most dangerous lie isn't based on one's subjective opinion or political bias. It's a matter of historical fact and it's a lie that's gone entirely unnoticed:
- The film depicts Kyle on his "first tour" which we know was March of 2003
- And the film clearly shows a military commander on this "first tour" explaining that they are fighting "AQI" or "al Qaeda in Iraq". This is really shitty for a few reasons:
- Predictably, some saw this omission as inconsequential.
- While some artistic liberties are not that important, some are terribly pernicious.
- In this case, America Sniper was guilty of subtly playing in to the dangerous neocon fantasy that the war in Iraq had anything to do with 9/11.
- To make matter worse it was revealed years later that even the Pentagon's 2004-2005 focus on Zarqawi (the nominal head of al Qaeda in Iraq) was deliberately "played up" (see: lied about)
- The Pentagon, just like the film - and by extension Chris Kyle - wanted more than anything for the Iraqi insurgency to be seen as foreign al Qaeda.
- The Pentagon even went so far as to call the "Islamic State" (AQI's predecessor) an al Qaeda front group who's head was an "actor" in 2007