Essay Example. "American Sniper" and Just War Theory

Published: 2023-04-05
Essay Example. "American Sniper" and Just War Theory
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Violence War Movie Ethical dilemma
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1200 words
10 min read

The Just War Theory is a concept that makes a film morally justifiable in a series of events. The theory comprises the right to go to war and the right to conduct war. Both concepts concern morality in war. Therefore, war is not placed as the last option in a situation (Williams & Dan 310). However, various responsibilities, preventable atrocities, and undesirable outcomes could justify a war. Many wars already have well-stated riles as well as asymmetrical morality. In the Just War Theory, some things are taken seriously. For instance, human life is taken seriously and terminated; it is an act of immorality. Besides, it remains the responsibility of a state to protect its citizens and defend justice (Williams & Dan 313). Additionally, the act of protecting human life is associated with the act of using force as well as violence.

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"American Sniper," an action movie from 2014 by Clint Eastwood, revolves around the actions of morality in war. Therefore, a series of events can be attached to the Just War Theory. The movie features various snipers who engage in pulling triggers from a long distance and in cover and concealment. In American Sniper, Chris Kyle is the serial killer and the most lethal sniper in a military career. There are multiple morals and virtues associated with those who kill on behalf of another person's common good. Kyle records success in protecting other people with pinpoint accuracy that he was referred to as the legend. He does so in commitment until he meets his death while helping SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land) with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Just War Theory manifests where the movie deals with the aftermath of the military killing. Multiple discomfiting questions regarding the glory of killing arise throughout the movie. For instance, Kyle first kills a child who was convinced by his parents to pursue and become a suicide bomber. On the same note, he goes ahead to kill the mother, who tries to finish up her son's mission. While the mother was on the son's side, the father could not tolerate wolves in the house. According to the father, violence was only applicable to violence when necessary. The father aligns with the principles of Just War Theory as he considers it ethical only to use force at the right time. The people who abjure violence should only be prompted to act as soon as others are committing violence on their behalf. The father plausibly justifies violence in the best way compared to the mother in the film.

From the Just War Theory, killing is a definitive act that corrupts personal character and identity in ways that are not compatible with the ethical society (Pattison 145: Burke 329). In that connection, soldiers tend to become killers as soon as they terminate their first life. An individual whose vocation is to kill should not be accepted back to the society as a functional member. However, Kyle was well known as a serial killer and was a member of society despite his actions, right or wrong. The Just War Theory would require that he splits himself from the feelings that the act engenders. For Kyle, it is killing that he was supposed to do for the society and not be questioned. Besides, his return was not always taken negatively. For Kyle to commit the acts of killing, he understood that there was a split in his psychological and spiritual weight. This is one consequence of the Just War Theory as it applies to wars. However, as a serial killer, he had sufficient knowledge on how he could integrate the experiences he had for killing to avoid stumbling beneath the emotional consequences.

The Just War Theory is also manifested when Kyle's wife notes a change in her husband's character. In some events, he could be disturbed by high pitches and loud noises, which was not his norm in his past life. He could also feel distant and removed, which are some of the consequences of the Just War Theory. Besides, the experiences are felt after only five tours of duty. Having killed and experienced hundreds of wars, it is plausible that Kyle could not have come home in stable condition due to psychological torture. The acts of killing, therefore, not only disregard morality but also influence psychological torture. This is what causes the event of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and moral injury.

Kyle was not in good terms with those who question the morality of the war. He even goes ahead to rebuke a dead comrade who is against the actions of violence in the war. Besides, he even attributes his death to the notion of "He let go, and he paid the price for it." In this event, Kyle dissociates himself from the acts of morality in war. The Just War Theory is further strengthened as he proves himself to have committed an unethical and immoral act. Even so, it is evident that the way Kyle is depicted in the movie is unrelenting and unquestioning. Kyle is also presented in a way that the audience can agree with the actions of violence. The events are put in such a way that the viewers are prompted to grapple with what he says. However, for an individual with moral and ethical knowledge of violence, Kyle's acts are not to be supported in any perspective.

The American Sniper film provides a simplistic justification of the war, a perspective that could be termed as childish. It is only his purposiveness that maintains his life for the period in the war. Besides, it is the same quality that protected him from trauma, which could have manifested earlier in war. Even as he is found with PTSD, he notes how he was protecting his people as they tried to kill his peers. He even explains how he is willing to meet the creator and explain every shot he took on the rivals. He is even bothered by how he does not participate in war and how unable he is to defend various troops. The Just War Theory does not explain such simplistic thinking of war as violence disregards the concepts of morality and ethics.

Kyle's accounts in the American Sniper are in moral and ethical cases wrong. Besides being the most deadly soldier, he used multiple psychological strategies to make his audience stick to the good in the actions of violence. The actions of a serial killer are tied to the intention of proving, improving, and reforming themselves and the country in general. Regardless of their motivation, killers commit themselves to become weapons controlled by others, an act that is contrary to the principles of Just War Theory. Therefore, the killings made at the film do not align with the requirements of Just War Theory; hence, the actions are not morally acceptable.

Works Cited

Burke, Anthony. "Just war or ethical peace? Moral discourses of strategic violence after 9/11." International Affairs, vol. 80, no. 2, 2004, pp. 329-353.

Pattison, James. "Just war theory and the privatization of military force." Ethics & International Affairs, vol. 22, no. 2, 2008, pp. 143-162.

Williams, Robert E., and Dan Caldwell. "Jus Post Bellum: Just war theory and the principles of a just peace." International studies perspectives, vol. 7, no. 4, 2006, pp. 309-320.

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