Milo Minderbender in Afghanistan
By John Grant, Counterpunch, June 11-13, 2010
No one has captured the absurd spirit of US war-making better than Joseph Heller in Catch 22. Here’s one of the greatest literary symbols for capitalism, Milo Minderbinder, on the future of US warfare:
In a democracy, the government is the people,” Milo explained. “We’re people, aren’t we? So we might just as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.
Milo Minderbinder is the squadron mess officer who works the angles and deals his way, becoming a major political figure in the European theater. The corrupt Colonel Cathcart keeps him from flying deadly combat missions so he can pursue his talent for business deals and profits–profits that Cathcart then shares in. At one point, Milo figures money can be made by contracting with the Germans for US bombers to bomb their own squadron headquarters.
Milo Minderbinder’s loyalty to the streams of capitalism and profit over the literal shooting sides of war is a fiction based on real fact.