Thursday, October 27, 2005

Oh The Irony

I was recently struck with the urge to re-read Catch-22; no particular reason, I suppose I just needed a good dose of Joseph Heller's cynicism and anger. I'm nearing the end of the book and tonight I reached chapter 40, only to be stopped dead in my tracks. In this chapter the main protagonist Yossarian is confronted with a choice by the amoral Lieutenant Colonel Korn and the inept Colonel Cathcart- become their friend and be taken off combat duty or continue to refuse to fly bombing missions and face court martial. During the conversation there is the following exchange (paraphrased):

"Won't you fight for your country?" Colonel Korn demanded..."Won't you give up your life for Colonel Cathcart and me?"

Yossarian tensed with astonishment..."What's that?" he exclaimed. "What have you and Colonel Cathcart got to do with my country? You're not the same."

"How can you seperate us?" Colonel Korn inquired with ironic tranquility.

"That's right," Colonel Cathcart cried emphatically. "You're either for us or against us. There's no two ways about it."

"I'm afraid he's got you," added Colonel Korn. You're either
for us or against your country. It's as simple as that."

"Oh no Colonel. I don't buy that."

Colonel Korn was unruffled. "Neither do I frankly, but everyone else will. So there you are."

I had no idea. I should have known, in the dim recesses of my memory, but I had no idea. The last four years of US foreign and defence policy all make sense now. Here is the model for conflating opposition to radical Islamist geo-currents with support for the Bush administration, ripped from the pages of an anti-war novel written in 1955. Oh brave new world, that has such people in it.

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