Friday, April 11, 2008

Catch 22

It’s been a long time since I read Joseph Heller’s masterpiece. But it might be the perfect time to introduce it to a younger generation. After watching the Patraeus and Crocker testimony I keep thinking about Catch 22. We don’t know what victory means, but we’ll know it when we see it. In the meantime, we’ll just keep making the same deadly mistakes over and over in the same old way, and hope for a different outcome. Did you hear it differently? Immediately I thought, Catch 22. It must really exist somewhere in the military bureaucratic code book that is in charge of this SNAFU.


Beach Bum said...

The truth of the matter is far worse. Upper level officers like Patraeus are involved with politics just as much as any politician. In fact like most other professions you will never get ahead if you don't know which back to scratch or ass to kiss. In wartime though the "dog and pony show" is suppose to fall back to a secondary position in some respect with the mission to defeat the enemy coming first. This is not the case with Bush's war since he has redefined the mission several times after each lie had been exposed. Throw in the fact that Rummy, Cheney, and Bush have tried to fight the war on the cheap with not the proper equipment and number of troops.

In may opinion I believe Patraeus understands how bad a position he is in, plus throw in the tradition of the military being subservient to the civilian leadership, which is almost encoded in the DNA of service men and women, and you have someone who will fall on his sword gladly when the mission is ended by the civilian leadership. This is a very simplistic overview, anything deeper would take hours because this situation also involves the general American population who are hugely out of the loop on the suffering, the hyper-mission oriented people in the armed forces who do not like to give up, and the media and the political spin machines which are surprisingly close.

Utah Savage said...

Once again, Beach steps into the breach and tells it like it is. I do indeed respect you voice, your experience, and you knowledge. Thanks, Beach

Naj said...

Hi sister, read your comment at Jim's place; and I was thinking on the same radar: America seems to suffer serious learning disability!

But, don't head to Canada anytime soon; there is a jackass called Steven Harper, that is running a minority government now, but will be getting a majority soon--for no other reason than the incompetence of the opposition liberals who are in the same confused power-battle state as American Dems are.

This harper is a Bush lover; and a McCain admirer; and he wishes to turn Canada into McCain Republic!

Vigilante said...

I love the way Beach artfully crafts his misspellings. This morning, on another blog I found where he called Bush "an authentic American Nero." And here, he calls Petraeus "Patraeus"! Twice! Beach is alluding to General Betrayus' pretensions to patriotism! Clearly! Another discerning observation when contibutes to Beach's steadily increasing street cred, IMHO!

Vigilante said...

Oops! I Misspelled the General's name! (Sorry!)

MadMike said...
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MadMike said...

Beach I agree with you in all respects but think I need to add the following:

A general is a soldier and he is following orders. We cannot have generals disobeying their commanders, whether it be higher ranking generals or the commander in chief (CIC). These men are professionals and true patriots. They don't get to be where they are by being stupid or willful. They have seen much and sacrificed much during their long careers. Petraeus is calling it as he sees it and is betraying no one. There will always be those who will demonize men like Petraeus simply because his views, which are informed, do not match theirs, which, for the most part are uninformed or at the least not as well informed.

At the risk of repeating myself we cannot have military commanders refusing to follow [lawful] orders regardless of the fool who may be issuing them. I despise the CIC and his gang of fools but I respect the men of the armed forces because I have been there and understand the dynamic. It is hard sometimes to serve your country when you know that the service you perform may be an unpopular one indeed. Those who have never been there can only guess at the machinations of the military and the government. It is a Catch-22!

Finally the term "Catch-22" originated with Joseph Heller himself. They tried several other "catches" before settling on it.

Vigilante said...

Beach's is comment looms larger every time I read it.

One of my most favorite writers has something very applicable to this last point of Mike's. George Lakoff touches on it in his Iraq and the Betrayal of Trust. (I hope have the right link.)

The Politeness Trap

There are certain politeness conventions that members of Congress follow. For example, anyone in a US military uniform must be commended for his patriotism, ability, and dedication - even if it is a political appointee on a political mission, like Petraeus.

There is a reason for this, what linguists call 'metonymy,' a mode of thought in which a leader stands for the institution he or she leads. If this commonplace metonymy is used, a general in uniform reporting to Congress would be seen as standing for the military as an institution.

In fact is the 4 or 5 star generals are political appointees. They are personally selected by the C.I.C. They're nominated, as it were, by their accession in rank. As they ascend in rank, the president can see that they are retired early until he finds one with whom he can work. Thus, Shinnesky and Admiral Fallon, to take two examples, were retired early so that Bush could get who he wanted behind them. In fact, Petreus, Patreus, Betrayus or whatever else you want to call him, no more represents 'the opinion of the military' than the next man or woman behind him. He's there because he represents the president's position.

Lakoff goes on to say:

Because the Leader-stands-for-the-Institution metonymy is widespread, members of the Senate and the House therefore treated the general with utmost respect at the hearing.

That's why you get the GOP's and the Dem's alike fawning over Petraeus, demonstrating their utmost respect:

"Let me start off by thanking you for your service to your country..."

That's why Bush has his General Pet appear in his full regalia. Eisenhower and Bradley, heroes of the heroic Greatest Generation of World War II, were never this immodest.

Bush, the chickenhawk, has sprung the politeness trap and is hiding behind his brass which he has personally chosen.

Bottom line in my book: Petraeus (General Pet) is fair game.

Vigilante said...
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Vigilante said...

No, Utah. you didn't do it. I actually liked the deeper amber back ground you had before. What you have to tweak is the color of your LINKS. Be daring, Darling.

Vigilante said...
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Vigilante said...

Good colors, Utah.

"By George, I thinks she's got it. The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plains!"