Monday, August 06, 2007

It's all in the contract…

Catch-22 is my favourite book

Hardly original I know, but there you go

A lot of people who say that Catch-22 is one of their favourite books go on to describe it as being all about the lunacy of war

Which is a bit sad...

...saying something is your favourite book and then demonstrating that you probably really don’t really get it at all

Catch-22 is about being trapped living life by the rules of others and just how wicked and insane those others often are

To think the themes of the book are only applicable to wartime is, I think, to miss the point entirely

The scary thing is that when I first read Catch-22 as a teenager I assumed that most of the characters and scenarios in the book were exaggerated parodies crafted to drive the themes, and the humour, of the book home

Silly me

I’ve now spent the subsequent 25 years or so meeting people and encountering situations that could have been taken straight out of the book and realising that Heller didn't have to employ very much imagination at all

Probably one of the most over the top moments in the book occurs when the Americans make a deal with the Germans to bomb their own airfield to make good losses they incurred trading commodities futures…

Yossarian: You made a deal to bomb our own base?!!

Cathcart: A contract is a contract. That's what we're fighting for

Milo: Will you clear the field, please? We will soon begin to strafe.

Yossarian: Strafe?!!

Cathcart: It's all in the contract…


The passage concludes with the line…

"This time Milo had gone too far. Bombing his own men and planes was more than even the most phlegmatic observer could stomach, and it looked like the end for him...Milo was all washed up until he opened his books to the public and disclosed the tremendous profit he had made."

Obviously, the idea of the US supporting its enemies in wartime to suit some twisted corporate agenda is totally over the top and nothing like anything that could happen outside of a satirical novel

But then I read stories like this…

190,000 weapons 'missing in Iraq'

The US military cannot account for 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to the Iraqi security forces, an official US report says…

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Pentagon cannot track about 30% of the weapons distributed in Iraq over the past three years.

The Pentagon did not dispute the figures, but said it was reviewing arms deliveries procedures.

About $19.2bn has been spent by the US since 2003 on Iraqi security forces.

GAO, the investigative arm of the US Congress, said at least $2.8bn of this money was used to buy and deliver weapons and other equipment.

Correspondents say it is now feared many of the weapons are being used against US forces on the ground in Iraq.

And I start to wonder…



Merkin said...

Do not wonder.

Well, sorry, wonder while you can still do it.
In blah blah blah months time, when you are posting 'Stef says :......' messages through some non-ASBOd person then don't wonder.
Me? I am looking forward to 'Aid for Merkin' concerts to concrete my legacy/get into these bastards.
And that is despite the fact I do not, at present, tag anything I post.

Shutter said...

Washington Post story had this intriguing postscript

"Much of the equipment provided to Iraqi troops, including the AK-47s, originates from countries in the former Soviet bloc. In a report last year, Amnesty International said that in 2004 and 2005 more than 350,000 AK-47 rifles and similar weapons were taken out of Bosnia and Serbia, for use in Iraq, by private contractors working for the Pentagon and with the approval of NATO and European security forces in Bosnia."

A report July 10th 2006 in the Chr Sc Monitor
also says..
"The UN estimates that one-quarter of the $4 billion annual global arms trade is illicit. But experts are also concerned about legal trades, particularly from Bosnia before the moratorium. The concerns are heightened in light of an Amnesty International report in May that detailed a 2004 Bosnia-to-Iraq shipment of thousands of guns that apparently went missing in a maze of subcontractors."

..."Amnesty International highlighted one of the US Department of Defense's Bosnia weapons shipments in a May report that detailed a dizzying array of contractors and subcontractors hired to bring some 99 tons of automatic assault rifles from Bosnia to Iraq, to arm the Iraqi military and police.

According to the report, the Department of Defense contracted the Alabama-based company Taos, which then subcontracted a Bulgarian firm, which, in turn, subcontracted the Moldovan-registered company Aerocom to ship the weapons to Iraq in August 2004. But Aerocom lost its air operation certificate one day before the shipments were to begin, because of European Union concerns about air safety and security. According to the Amnesty report, Aerocom was also linked with the notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, who has been blacklisted by both the UN and the US Treasury Department for his role in supplying arms to conflict-riddled areas of Africa."

For Victor Bout see Yorkshire Ranter.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Wilson's War - read all about how the Mujahideen were armed.

(read the reviews of the book in Amazon).

paul said...

Favourite quote from Joseph Heller when asked if he was bothered he hadn't written anything as good as catch 22 since:
"who has?"
Excellent article concerning your bunterish ubermenschen mayoral candidate here

Shutter said...

Boris may play the buffoon, but the King has a Court jester to remind him sometimes of the uncomfortable truths about his court and courtiers. The Paul Merton's , Jeremy Hardy's provide more incisive political analysis than the very best infomred political columnist.

Boris was well on the mark referring to Scousers wallowing in 'vicarious victim hood'.

The dead of Hillsborough were not found crushed against the fences, they were found to have been crushed underfoot in the tunnel.. not in the open.

Extrapolating bodyweight from their Date of Birth the bulk were children..

The killers at Hillsborough were adults, many not sober ... not the police, not the police horses, the ticket touts ...

The victims at Hillsborough were the dead not the grieving survivors, anxious to re-direct their guilt either by their action. Or like many fathers, of inaction to protect their children.

Although envious that he has comjugated with Petronella Wyatt, I would not defend Boris much, but in the case of the whingeing Scousers he was spot on.

Stef said...

Hmmm, Ken or Boris

Spoilt for choice we are...

Ken Livingstone today sprang to the defence of a senior Met officer over the Stockwell Tube shooting.

He dismissed a report into how police reacted to the killing of an innocent man as the work of armchair academics.

Anti-terror chief Andy Hayman is expected to be singled out for criticism by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, was shot dead by pol ice when surveillance officers wrongly identified him as a suicide bomber, after the 7/7 London Tube and bus bombs and the failed 21 July attacks in 2005.

Mr Hayman is believed to be criticised over statements made in the aftermath of the shooting, and for allegedly failing to brief Commissioner Sir Ian Blair soon enough that they had got the wrong man.

But Mr Livingstone said: "It's all very well for academics, which is largely what the police complaints authority are, sitting in their office saying this is how it should have worked.

You try doing it while you are waiting for the next bomb to go off." He rubbished the idea "that this is some sort of catastrophic error of judgment on the part of an officer". He described Mr Hayman as someone "I have tremendous respect for and whose counterterrorism operations have saved literally dozens of lives in this city".

Stef said...


I notice in your profile that you list Catch-22 as your favourite book twice - good choice

(and PS I've updated my earlier post on the JCdM shooting to avoid any misunderstandings about the origins of the pictures I used)

Stef said...

@anon: Charlie Wilson's War added to the Amazon shopping list - a snip @£6.15...


Merkin said...

Thanz Stef - I have re-jigged the post on mine (it was purely my stupidity which made it less than clear).

Synchronicity being what it is, I had particular reasons to feel that story as being very bad.

Stayed in Stockwell after returning from a trip to Brazil long time ago, and know that station very well.
As trousers sort of said, the sheer ordinariness of the Beeb photo is chilling in itself.

I came back to Britain, after 10 years abroad, the week after 7/7 to see such a climate of (induced) fear - my bus skirted London rather than going to Victoria.
(On the 'lighter side', hehehe, when I was in Brazil I had guns at my head from the local police.
Wrote about it in my blog.

Point is, the MSM spent all their time discussing like PMT'ed shills the 'who did this' 'who said that'
distraction without once asking the question 'who ordered it and why?'

We have a good idea what it was about - as do the people in Brazil.
As usual, we can't do piss all except shout 'Fire!' while we are allowed to.

Anonymous said...

Blog notes ... "The conception that government should be guided by majority opinion makes sense only if that opinion is independent of government. The ideal of democracy rests on the belief that the view which will direct government emerges from an independent and spontaneous process. It requires, therefore, the existence of a large sphere independent of majority control in which the opinions of the individuals are formed."

The above is from Hayek. I thought it worth posting 'cos some of your commentators blindly advocate democracy as a force for good. Unfortunateley, democracy is an extremely potent form of tyranny.