Who needs dystopian novelists or absurd satirists when otherwise banal bureaucrats of the U.S. national security state do the job for them? It’s an old story with a new tech-savvy twist. The late great Joseph Heller knew a thing or two about war’s foundational farce. He joined the army air corps at age 19 and flew 60 combat missions as a bombardier on World War II’s Italian front.
In his classic 1961 novel Catch-22, his wounded protagonist lamented that “outside the hospital the war was still going on. Men went mad and were rewarded with medals.” Yet in today’s confusing modern twist, with the citizenry and even soldiery now opposing America’s endless wars, the only men going mad are inside Washington. Even now they’re looking for reasons to keep awarding medals to overtaxed and unenthused overseas warriors.
It makes for a strange state of affairs here in year 20 of the crusade formerly known as the “war on terror.” Just last week, two assumedly unrelated stories offered case studies (or are they clinics) in America’s national security politics and procedures of absurdity.
Fit for Heller: An (Open) Secret Intel Budget
First, there was a passing annual footnote in the Pentagon’s bland bureaucratic budget line.
Part of that military budget goes to what DefenseNews labeled the “Pentagon’s secret intelligence fund” – last year they went with “black intel funding.” Its officially titled the more mundane Military Intelligence Program, or MIP. Last week’s obligatory announcement was that Congress appropriated $23.1 billion for