Ron Paul’s Chris Kyle Tweet: What I want the non-interventionist community to say

Yesterday, former congressman Ron Paul sent the following Tweet:

Chris Kyle’s death seems to confirm that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn’t make sense

— Ron Paul (@RonPaul) February 4, 2013

Chris Kyle, highly-decorated veteran, was killed at a Texas gun range by another veteran over the weekend.

The Tweet is an example of what happens when you address tragedy without demonstrating sufficient empathy.

Yes, by all accounts Kyle “lived by the sword.” Fox News reports that Kyle was the most lethal sniper in the U.S., with 160 confirmed kills. For those of us who see the US intervention abroad that Kyle participated in as illegitimate, it may be difficult to view Kyle and his fellow veterans sympathetically. But Kyle was a real person, not a lesson.


The knee-jerk desire to hold people accountable when they don’t measure up to our standards of conduct is understandable. But even the most dovish of us would do well to understand that Kyle was a victim before he was shot. Indeed, he was simultaneously a victim and a perpetrator of the tremendous, powerful machinery of American foreign policy. Kyle was a victim of the military industrial complex and mainstream media which seeks to strike fear into the hearts of the American people and justify any means necessary to keep Americans safe from attack.

He was quoted as explaining the combat actions that garnered him multiple awards thusly: “I did it because I felt like it was something that needed to be done and it was honorable,” Kyle said. “I loved the guys.” By all accounts it appears that he risked his life in combat because he believed he was keeping America safe.

I believe that Kyle was mistaken, and that US military intervention makes Americans less safe.

And I believe that it’s wrong to flippantly use a decorated veteran’s tragic death to make political potshots.

I want to say on behalf of the noninterventionist foreign policy community that Tweets like this don’t represent us. I want us to extend my deepest sympathies to the victims and families of victims like Kyle, his killer and countless veterans who get injured and die everyday due to widespread and persistent deception.

If we believe that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword, let’s stop turning our swords on each other through our words and instead fight for and on behalf of veterans.



  1. Igor Gembitsky

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Our foreign military campaigns are tragic in so many ways and truly creates victims of our valiant, well-meaning soldiers, foreign civilians, and innocent Americans who suffer the blowback. In fact, all I see are victims and collateral to this international bloodletting. What are fighting for, Cathy?

  2. Chris

    I feel like it’s only due to extreme political correctness in our society that something like this needs to be said.

    Kyle killed 160 fellow human beings. Like his first “kill” – an Iraqi woman – I doubt any of them were a threat to anyone. Yet nobody was asked to show restraint because of their deaths.

    I think its disturbing that someone like Kyle who shamelessly “just follows orders” and wishes he killed more “savages” (his term) is glorified as a hero.

    The only thing wrong will Paul’s comments is that some people get offends by the truth.

  3. CFParrinello

    If it’s important to show decorum in the face of human tragedy, then perhaps there were few greater offenders than Kyle. The people he killed were no less deserving of empathy, and had no less of a right to life than Kyle did. I won’t cheer Kyle’s death, but people who value human life will most certainly draw lessons from his murder.

  4. CFParrinello

    2 Also, I like how he’s represented as a victim. As if signing up for an organization and purposefully trying out for a team that specializes in killing people absolves him of responsibility for the act of killing someone. Kyle didn’t seem to share that opinion for his tours in Iraq, and has publicly stated that he just wish that he could have killed more Iraqis in hopes of saving more lives of US soldiers.

    But hey! He was a victim of bad ideas, right?!?! Except, if you take that rationale, then every mass killer in the history of mass killers was just a victim of bad ideas.

    I’m in no rush to excuse Kyle’s kills, and he didn’t seem to be either. Pretending that he wasn’t in control of himself or was too ignorant to understand the implications of what he was doing doesn’t seem particularly helpful or insightful. He knew what we he was doing, as does Ron Paul. The difference is that Paul has the sense to find it distasteful.

  5. guthrie

    You make some good points. I didn’t react quite as negatively to the tweet because I don’t quite see Ron Paul taking a ‘political potshot’. He’s got nothing to lose (or gain) politically at this point… he’s out. Your comment about making Kyle a ‘lesson’ are duly noted. Yes, that probably crosses the line of good taste.

    I also note, though, you didn’t characterize Mr. Paul’s comments as ‘Vile’ (Rick Wilson), ‘callous’, ‘sanctimonious’, ‘ghoulish’, or ‘anti-military’ (Twitchy), or use any other such hyperbole. While it may be ill-advised to be critical of a soldier killed tragically on the home front, it would also seem that the Republican partisans are showing some true colors here by their overreaction. As Lew Rockwell wrote, ‘All that stuff about laissez faire and freedom and free markets has never been more than an act and an affectation…. Among conservatives, Ron Paul has only ever had minority support, for in the end, conservatives love government, as exhibited by their latest outrage. ‘

    Conservatives and Liberals will always have their swords out when their pet statist ideologies are threatened, and they will defend them no matter the cost.

  6. Nathan Scott

    Service in the military is voluntary. Veterans who actively brag about their kill counts aren’t interested in our sympathy for what they have been through.

    It needs to become common to publicly criticize those in the military. Only then will society no longer seem them as noble defenders of freedom, but the most savage welfare queens in history.

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