Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

In of triumph can never be told

In the book,
The end of victory culture, author Tom Engelhardt asks the core question of “Is there an
imaginable America without enemies and without the story of their slaughter and
our triumph” (Engelhardt)?  A question
like this takes one’s mind into another perspective because it gets a person
into deep thoughts. We are so used to the old fashion going out into battle and
winning our territory as a sense of championship. So many stories are full of
bloodshed and loss of lives, that we forget the real stories. War
enforces a person feel bigger, invincible, and unstoppable. In America, a story
of triumph can never be told without the overall background history. So much
pride goes into that, that we feel powerful. That is what gives us the upper
hand and respect. Today, we do not focus much on pride, because it seems that
it is something we must do to protect our people. Today people go out to war
over anything simple. Back in the earlier days a person would had to have gone
into war over something serious. We feel unbeatable today because we have the
most technology and more access to stronger equipment. Everyone feels like they
are better than the next person because of what they have now today. What
really matters are where you started from and how you got there and that is
exactly what Engelhardt focuses on. When
Engelhardt mentions, “without the story of the slaughter and triumph,” we
as a nation would have never been able to see how we got here. People look at the context of the cold war experience
and throughout the centuries, and automatically assume everything is solid. Not
knowing the mythology of American virtue and how the defeats caused American
destruction can leave one lost. We look at “Righteous” retaliation by the U.S.
to “evil” invasions and automatically assume we did the right thing. In the
military, there are struggles against all enemies. The enemy may sometimes be
stronger and unbeatable, so that should not stop you from wanting to win. You
will not always win. At the end of the day it matters about how you overcame
that battle. Victory is basically a win or lose situation tied in
with success and failure. Once war has been won, victory and defeat becomes a joyous feeling and nothing else
starts to matter. For example, because the United States has fought throughout
the years to hold its ground together after 9/11, the heartfelt pain still
lingers within us. It has taught us
as a nation to triumph over opponents. Although we took a loss we should never
give up. Engelhardt also uses movies to back up his examples. He compares how
the western and war movies with science fiction have now transformed into
real-life experiences. This all ties in with American Sniper and Three Kings.

Throughout Engelhardt’s
book, he offers an impressive definition for American triumphalism. As a
nation, America has been through so much regarding fighting in battle to own
their ground that it should never go unnoticed. They have had to fight for their
land and what lawfully belongs to them. Engelhardt traces the roots of
America’s national war story. He feels like the all these Indian stories about
how America stole from the Indians are false allegations.  Engelhardt argues that colonial and early American
justification of the slaughter of Indians have become an example for our national
war story. During these wars, Americans have justified violence and basically
making up excuses stressing to cover things up. Engelhardt also points out the transformation
in American history and how it’s war decline has led to myths Americans have
told themselves.  Due to this
transformation within American history a failure of attempt to revive the
national war myth has become difficult. Once a situation has been told one way
it is hard to go back to being the old way. Americans have viewed their country
in the past and now trying to regain its true definition as a powerful nation. Engelhardt also goes in depth with explaining
how America is so used to being the world’s most extraordinary losers that it
is hard to believe it is still yearning for a restoral of its identity.  

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After reading Engelhardt’s
informative book, the films American Sniper, and Three Kings both
explore and signify how triumph within war life can be like. With war life
comes many different instances and circumstances that not only affect soldiers
but also affect society in general. Speaking of righteous there are many scenes
from these movies that backup Engelhardt’s cases.  These two films both go in depth with religion
and war exposure, and how triumph may alter these instances. Being out at war
can bring many unconventional circumstances, which can change a person mentally
and physically. Not only does it present a person with devastation during that
time, but it also lives on in the that soldiers guilt. Many soldiers also feel
as if they are also doing something right. They feel as if everything that has
happened is their fault. I believe the horror of being out at war is not only
represented in the soldiers, but it also affects those at home meaning the
families and friends. For example, a scene from the movie American Sniper shows Chris on top of the roof outlooking the view
of the city to see if anything seems suspicious, when suddenly a car pulls up
as a child is sitting down playing. He notices a man walks out with a grenade
launcher and attempts to point at the tank. Kyle with no hesitation shoots and
kills the man. This represents how you must kill the evil to protect your
people. Next Kyle notices the young child run and pick up the grenade launcher and attempt to retry the same thing the man did. Kyle knows
very well that in this country these people are working together also to
protect their people and it has been implanted heavenly into their children
also. Deep down inside Kyle is hoping that child does not pick that gun up and
try to shoot because then he must kill the child. Having children of his own
makes matters even worse because how could a person kill a child? This really digs
a deep hole in Kyle because it was either protect your men or do the right
thing. The physical effects of war are one of the most popular horrors, and
probably is the most acknowledged. Many of the scenes from the two films
broadcast how uneasy and distressing living out in combat can be, but it also
intertwines with religion and how our world changes along the way. A lot of
what Engelhardt mentions are also factors in movies and society. I also believe
these effects are trying to tell us what society is evolving into and who we once
were within cultural hegemony.

In the film American
Sniper, the use of exposure of war life and torture by the U.S. has not
only become an instrument of political and foreign policy but it has become an
increasingly accepted moral norm. It is now being glamorized in media and
movies. In this film, the insatiable hunger for stories of brave and
sacrificing commandos is being a big target. Movies that expose truth such as
the movies American Sniper gain a great amount of praise because it is
telling real life situations of soldiers. The movie looks like it may suggest
that it would be wrong to kill civilians, mainly children because they mean no
harm but when you look at how these children are brain washed you have no
choice but to be prepared to kill them. As an American, we have always known
terrorists as a person from another country that is wanting to hurt us. A
terrorist can come in all shapes, sizes, or color so there is no way to target
them. As Kyle states, “they are all savages.” This means he views them as bad
people and to do his duties as an American citizen he must protect his people.
With killing also comes the consequences though. Meaning it becomes normal to
kill another person because you want to keep killing, but then it becomes such
a repetitive thing you cannot stop. On the other hand, the core part of Three
Kings is that it examines the hollow victory of the Gulf War. Since we are
so used to the typical with war, this movie showcases more of a I get rich insight. Benefiting from a
situation is what I see, not more so trying to show victory. I feel as though
society is all about showing off. Taking from the next man to gain power has
become such an easy situation. America is a made-up place
that consists of many made up of stories. One person hears a story, they retell
it to the next person and it keeps going in a circle. This is the story of
those stories. I feel as though Engelhardt does very well in explaining his
stand in how he feels within his book.

Although being out at war
can bring a lot of different factors of a person, fear and communication tend
to be the main targets. I noticed in the movies understanding what the
civilians were saying had a big impact. To get a better understanding of what
the bad people were saying Kyle needed a translator. Because
my family is originally from South Sudan, Africa, and originating here to the
US when I was a toddler it gets difficult sometimes. We came here as refugees
to escape the war, and my dad had to translate many times to provide for my
family. He would often get paid for translating at the embassy. I have known
America as my home my whole life, but my name tends to draw a lot of
attention because it is different. Whenever I explain its origin it always
leads to Muslim because they do not expect an “African” American to
be Muslim. I am not Muslim it is just that Arabic is the main language spoken
in South Sudan and I know it because my family speaks it every day. There
is the traditional Arabic and then there is the Muslim Arabic which is slang
Arabic. I speak the traditional Arabic. During the movies, I could
understand a few words which indicated the civilians were up to no good. This
caused fear within the soldiers because many of their men died. Communication
is very important in this instance.

            A
lot of what America’s endured during the world war history has effected youth
culture. This shows our younger generation exactly what has happened in the
past to provide them with more knowledge. This information provides them with a
full a mindset of why our military is the way it is now. This also explains that
there was a violent time and reconfiguration for American culture. Everything
that Engelhardt explains in his book helps Americans understand their position during
a difficult and ever-changing time. I agree that his explanations have very much restored America’s innocence in ways in ways
where we see what we can do to better our country. Looking at the two films American Sniper,
and Three Kings I can see what Engelhardt means within his book.
Although movies revolve around the same aspect regarding war they both present
different viewpoints. American Sniper has
more of a serious tone to it. Kyle knows exactly what he wants and he goes
after it. He is not only fighting for himself but for all his people and
family. While Three Kings displays a
more comical aspect as mentioned in Engelhardt’s book. I see more of a
beneficial factor. The men wanted something out of this quest for their own
benefit. I feel as though exposure in the military changes many people whether
we believe it or not. Engelhardt does well in explaining all the different
aspects of how he feels war, culture and society is like today.

Another great reading is from
Engelhardt’s blog “Giving Good War,” which indicates how war has
affected our generation. He states that the war is already slipping away, just
like Saddam Hussein or Mullah Omar or Osama Bin Laden. Children
from his generation learned about the war from their dads, by going out into
their backyards or local parks and with sticks and maybe some Army-Navy store to
cast-off their own special effects played out the scenes themselves mowing down
to the enemy. This was how he learned about the real history in war, not the
good old fashion school textbooks. They were able to learn on their own and it
all made sense to them how everything operated. Engelhardt states that any myth
is just a belief system used to get other people to be satisfied. War has
become such a different viewpoint that no one wants to admit it. We can see the
changes on television or even on the news. American war on screen has in fact
changed throughout our childhood years.  He
says that the post-Gulf War I, movies were Star Wars and Rambo and Platoon,
post-Dances with Wolves, the Transformers which were post early versions
of Dungeons and Dragons and the first video games. The most essential part of
our American story is now gone. Engelhardt offers that the mental war
propaganda and government-sponsored war imagery has become the new thing. This
was the beginning of an attempt to wipe out all memory of defeat in Vietnam and
rebuild the imagery of war as something thrilling in the American mind, but it
also had elements of anger and revenge against the media embedded in it. I do
in fact think that war creates enemies. They find a purpose not to like the
next group or people for specific reason. He also asserts that during 9/11 a
great amount of fear was instilled within our American people and President. The
president may have felt as if he failed because many innocent people died due
to something that could have been prevented. In movies fear can also be brushed
off because it is behind the tv screen but when it is in real life it is a
whole other story.

This all leads into the
popular campaign saying, “Make
America Great Again!” The number one thing that comes to our minds is
President Trump. During the election period in 2016 through 2017 this saying
was heard everywhere. I think that is one reason which increased his
popularity.  During President Trump’s
campaign, he promised his followers and fellow Americans basically a new era in
our American society that would only occur if he is elected president. Within
his slogan he keeps stating “again.” I take this into consideration because
what if something really is wrong with America and he is the only one seeing
that. He saw that America was at its lowest point and something needed to be
done so that it could be like how America used to be. I think this just made
everyone aware of the of there surroundings and rethink about certain
situations.

On the other hand, Engelhardt’s online journal called Tom Dispatch’s, he talks about how  George Packer’s recent New Yorker profile of
Richard Holbrooke, the president’s special representative for Afghanistan and
Pakistan, made some classic lines that reflected wars in the world. He
signifies how Packer describes Holbrooke on a flying visit to Afghanistan saying,
“He seemed less like a visiting emissary than like a proconsul inspecting
a vast operation over which he commanded much of the authority” (Tom
Dispatch). When that same proconsul makes it out of impoverished, shattered
Afghanistan and into Pakistan, a fractious, disturbed, unnerved country of
genuine significance, he packs the proconsul away and, according to Packer,
becomes Washington’s cajoler-in-chief. As Packer writes, “In moments when
I overheard him talking to Pakistani leaders, he took the solicitous tone of
someone reassuring an unstable friend. ‘It’s like dealing with psychologically
abused children,’ a member of his staff said. ‘You don’t focus on the screaming
and the violence — you just hug them tighter.'”

George Packer from
the Unwinding, picks up here by expressing how quickly political
idealism can disappear when one becomes exposed to a world of easy money. This
goes well with Three Kings because of the fact they are wanting to benefit from
finding the item. Packer’s strength as a storyteller lies in his ability to retell
such a diverse range of voices from across the nation deeply divided by social
status. His way of how famous artists, celebrities and politicians, from
Raymond Carver to Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell and Newt Gingrich steers his book
in a direction it otherwise tries to avoid, since Packer is clearly passing
judgment on elements of American culture that have evolved since the late
1970s. When he tells us how gangster rap is eroding America’s principles, his
tone becomes slightly elitist. Packer believes the seismic shift in political
and economic life, which has left the social contract in tatters, will
inevitably mean that members of an increasingly isolated American society will
find themselves alone, having to “improvise their own destinies, plot
their own stories of success and salvation.” Despite The Unwinding’s minor flaws, the book is a fitting
reminder of the paradox of democracy in America, where ideas that are seemingly
sacrosanct can be eroded and replaced within a generation.

In John Dower’s War Without
Mercy, he describes
the memorable racial dimensions of the conflict in the Asian theater of World
War II and their consequences on both military and reconstruction policy in the
Pacific. Dower is exploring the propaganda of the US-Japanese conflict to decrease
the “patterns of a race war,” which in hopes lowers the probability
of racial/racist stereotypes.  Dowers
believes that the war years have changed over time and has brought peace
between Japan and the Allied powers. The separation gap between oneself and the
enemy proved that it was serving as a piece that was stopping goals from being
achieved.  Dower begins by examining the
propaganda that was put out by both war machines and discovers the two
underlying patterns of stereotyping. Dowers writes, “the first kind of
stereotyping could be summed up in the statement saying, you are the opposite
of what you say you are and the opposite of us, not peaceful but warlike, not
good but bad” (Dowers). You can always try to deter away from being the same as
other people but at the end of the day you are completely the alike. No matter
how far you try to run or explain your difference you are not better. Here he goes more in depth with the Japanese and how
they came to be about, and we can compare this to camel jockeys like American Sniper. Also, American hustle
is also a great movie that represents how intact American culture is. American
Hustle, which is based on a comedy
full of scandals and scams displays a deeper meaning behind it. A lot of the
greed, ambition and dishonesty cold be a potential portrayal of how America is
really like.

The
well-known movie American Sniper does in fact signify a sheepdog just like The Unforgiven. In the film Kyle is seen
a one of the deadliest snipers in the history during the US military with so
many kills. A lot of how a person is today must do with their childhood or
past. Kyle’s motivation throughout American Sniper is mainly from his family and friends. They
keep him going. It has been said that the past number of decades, the US
has been the primary source of aggression. It is the wolf in sheep dog’s
clothing. Since Kyle is so far away from his wife, she tells him over and over
to “come home,” both physically and mentally this affects him. He knows that
his family needs him but his men also need him. In one scene, Kyle tells another
soldier that “this Iraq is more than just this dirt.” The evil in Iraq could
spread to San Diego or New York if they fail to stem the tide- “antiwar.” It
is like American Sniper is not intended to support one idea or any
political ideology. It is supposed to provide truth of real life situations.

*”the unforgiven” film- sheepdog- same as
sniper- sympathetic- regrets. We can see that our nation is a fictionalized
reflection of American history. There has been a great loss of our connection
to the land that America is still trying to absorb what happened at the end of
the Cold War. I think around this time people thought that the cold war triumph
would bring in an opportunity of peace and prosperity.

In
Engelhardt’s latest blog he expresses his thoughts regarding what John Dowers
has to say popular culture stereotypes and violence. He talks
about how our lives
are histories, which makes us all so different. Some readings from the
book,  War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War,
navigate through World War II in the Pacific as a brew of almost unbearable
racial hatreds, stereotypes, and savagery arise. Bower states how we as humans sometimes
have a hard time managing to change and heal after terrible events. John’s
work has regularly offered stunning vistas of both horror and implicit
hope. World War II meant many things to many people. In Dowers book he
states, “To over fifty million men, women, and children, it meant death. To
hundreds of millions more in the occupied areas and theaters of combat, the war
meant hell on earth: suffering and grief, often with little if any awareness of
a cause or reason beyond the terrifying events of the moment” (Dowers). Citizens
know what is about to happen and what the outcome will be after a war. To undergo
such event, one must be prepared physically and mentally. You cannot just go into
something knowing nothing or what possibilities come with it at the end. Engelhardt believes racist stereotyping has shaped
the nature of violence in the Iraq conflicts.

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