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
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.
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…