With this being the final blog post of the year for ASTU 100A, I wanted to discuss the powerful issues such as war, witnessing, and what it means to be a global citizen; key concepts that we have been discussing over the last few months in class. Through reference of Redeployment by Phil Klay, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, and American Sniper directed by Clint Eastwood, my goal is to unpack these issues of war, witnessing, and global citizenship during a war.
Firstly, I would like to address what it must feel like to arrive in a terror or war stricken country, as opposed to arriving in a country that might contain terror but is not entirely war stricken, prior to being in a complete warzone such as Iraq. In The Reluctant Fundamentalist, when Changez flies into JFK for the first time since 9/11 after having been in the Philippines for business, he is hit hard with the realization that life will never be the same after these terrorist attacks. While the rest of his colleagues from Underwood Samson go through security smoothly, Changez is questioned and even sent to a room in the airport to be inspected, because he is from Pakistan. During Changez trip back to Pakistan to visit his family after 9/11, his parents insist that he goes back to America. Although Changez agrees to go back home to work, he feels reluctant in doing so because he is ashamed for not being able to save his family from war, even though there is nothing that he could possibly do to stop the war.
In contrast to Changez’ experience of returning to America in a post 9/11 world, In Redeployment when Sergeant Price is at the shopping mall with his wife Cheryl, the contrast between witnessing war and being at war a few days prior, to suddenly being safe in a shopping mall in America is surreal for Sergeant Price. He is trapped inside of his head and cannot focus on anything but being prepared and ready to fight. The shopping mall is analogous to a war zone for him, and essentially everything is a war zone.
In American Sniper, Chris Kyle almost attacks his dog at his child’s birthday party because the dog is playfully fighting with his child and his mind see’s the dog as an immediate and severe threat to his child’s life and safety. The concept of going from being forced to kill a child at war because his mother hands him a grenade that poses a severe threat, to being at a birthday party where all children are safe and running around having fun in the sun, is paradoxical and must be incredibly confusing for
Chris Kyle in American Sniper relates heavily to Sergeant Price in Redeployment because they both want to be at home when they are at war, and they want to be back at war when they are home. They can never escape their PTSD. Both Sergeant Price and Chris are both always in either orange, “recognizing a specific potential threat,” or red, “ready to fight.”
In American Sniper, when Chris’ girlfriend calls him into the living room and they witness the twin towers being crashed into on the television, his expression shows that he knows that he has to go back to war to fight for his country. This scene contrasts with Changez experience watching the twin towers go down on his television in his hotel room in Manila, because Changez reaction to the event is immediate happiness. This highlights his anger towards America. In addition, in many ways, Changez views America as the war zone, and Pakistan as his home that he must protect.
In a world of war, what does it mean to be a global citizen? Does war define those that are members of the military? Does their definition of “self,” change? It is profound to recognize the powerful effect that war and terrorism has on that world – to the extent that it can alter one’s identity, and what they perceive to be their global identity. Both Changez, Sergeant Price, and Chris Kyle all witness war in different ways, and their perception of themselves as a global citizen alters once they are hit with the harsh reality of war and terror.