Are snipers cowards or heroes?


MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD., January 21, 2015 – Michael Moore’s remark that snipers are cowards has brought out the worst from some in the Internet. While it is obvious the connection of Moore’s remarks and the new movie Sniper, he has indicated that there is none.

Michael, if it looks like a duck…

Michael Moore based his comment on the fact that his father was killed in World War II by a sniper. Extrapolating from his comments, he believes that anyone that is not facing the enemy in combat, but instead firing from a stealthy position, is a coward.

Michael Moore is one of the most hated movie producers/directors in America, particularly by the right and anyone with a corporate slant. His documentaries have attacked the gun cultists, the health insurance lobby, military intervention, corporate rape of employees and others.

A sniper in combat serves several purposes. He keeps the enemy busy while his friends maneuver. He protects a specific area or a specific person or group. He also plays havoc and inspire terror on the enemy and can kill high value targets.

He is valued because he has a specific set of skills that protect the group as a whole. A person shot by a sniper no longer threatens the sniper buddies, also if the target is a high value one, it may impact how the enemy responds or exacts a mission.

To civilians that have an unreal idea of combat, the sniper may be seen as someone that is not following the rules. He is sneaky and uses the shadows to kill his enemies with relatively low exposure on his part.

But who is right?

They are both right. War is not a fair game. Believing that it is only makes more people condone it. The cliché that everything is valid in love or war should be changed to exclude love. Civilians kid themselves by believing that they can make war fair, with rules and prohibitions. The fact is that when life is the price, the game of war doesn’t have rules, prohibitions, cowardice and most other things that we like to see in fair competition.

What do you think happens after one side or the other has taken the upper hand in a battle and is sweeping the battle field in pursuit of enemy? Do you think a moving unit will stop and render assistance to an enemy soldier that is wounded and no longer can fight?

The answer is that the winning soldiers will move through the field finishing off any enemy soldier that may pose a threat to him or his unit. Maybe after the battle is over the vanquished may get some mercy, but not doing the noise of battle.

In this respect, the human race hasn’t become more civilized. All rules observed during civilian life are forgotten in combat.

So to a civilian, the sniper is a coward and to the soldier in battle he is a hero.

Is it possible to make wars more civilized? If we look inside ourselves we know the answer, a resounding no.

The solution is to make going to war more difficult. The universal draft could be a step in the right direction. If a large portion of the population is affected when we go to war, it is highly probable that we would not start or join a conflict unless it was absolutely necessary.

The reader can gauge for him/herself if under these conditions we would have been involved in the wars of the last 25 years. None of these wars really threatened the homeland per se, only our geopolitical and economic interests.

The question of what is a “just” war has been discussed by most civilizations, starting with ancient India. For Christians both St. Augustine and mostly St. Thomas Aquinas have rummaged through the morality and justification of war to guide and some cynics claim to justify war.

Except for very few exceptions, the real enemy is war.

Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a combat veteran who learned his lesson. He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+ and Facebook (Mario Salazar).

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  • Joy

    Thanks for a valid military explanation of a sniper in war. Have not seen the movie and do not plan to see it. Coward? I don’t think so….both sides do what ever it takes to stop the enemy.

  • Jimmy Jhonny

    Snipers were considered cowards by the majority of soldiers in ww2 on both sides who had fought hard in battles from kursk to stalingrad to normandy just to die getting shot by a sniper while putting up laundry or going to the outhouse, smoking a cig, lighting a fire for food or warmth etc…you have to realize that a sniper made everyday life necessities hell for the grunt who just lived through a hard fought battle.

    Recall the outrage when Insurgents deployed a largely propaganda sniper on American forces, the Pentagon asked the media not to play it up since it would demoralize soldiers.

    “The answer is that the winning soldiers will move through the field finishing off any enemy soldier that may pose a threat to him or his unit. Maybe after the battle is over the vanquished may get some mercy, but not doing the noise of battle.”

    that’s not the role of a sniper, it’s a glamorized role, but in full scale intense battle a sniper is rarely used. Their main function is during occupation both for and against.