July 20, 2004
By Greg Wilson
To the class of 2004: Many of you have already discovered a central
dilemma of moving from college into the world of work. To get a
job, you need experience. To get that experience, you need a job.
In order to better understand the world in which you have entered,
I recommend Joseph Heller's Catch-22 for summer reading.
In Heller's World War II dark comedic novel, the main character,
Yossarian, didn't want to fly any more bombing missions, yet in
order to get out of flying, he had to be declared crazy. But according
to military regulations, if you asked to be grounded, that proved
you were in fact sane.
A Catch-22 is a paradox in which seeming alternatives actually
cancel each other out. A person caught in a Catch-22 has no means
of escape from a particular dilemma. Or, the rationale for following
orders is irrational.
Published in 1961, the book Catch-22 became popular for
the 60s generation, when, in their effort to spread freedom and
democracy, US soldiers in Vietnam were ordered to destroy villages
in order to save them.
Now, fast forward to today. As we view pictures from Abu Ghraib
prison, we see abuse and torture done in order to spread freedom
and democracy in the Middle East. What should we call it? Not Catch-22,
but Catch-9/11. Let me explain.
What happened on 9/11?
We were attacked by Egyptian and Saudi Arabian terrorists.
Who is one of the biggest recipients of US Foreign Aid?
Why didn't we retaliate against Egypt?
Ever since the Camp David Peace Accords, Egypt has been an essential
ally in our effort to seek peace in the Middle East.
What type of government does Egypt have?
Egypt has one of the most oppressive and corrupt governments in
the world; it jails political opponents, abuses the human rights
of its citizens, and has created a breeding ground for terrorists
that hate America.
What is our goal in the Middle East?
We want to spread freedom and democracy.
Is it logical to ignore the type of government Egypt has?
Why do we?
Egypt is an essential ally in fighting the War on Terror.
Who else attacked us on 9/11?
Which country has funded the madrasas, the schools where Islamic
fundamentalists, al Qaeda and the Taliban teach young Muslim youth
throughout the Middle East to hate America and the West?
And why didn't we attack Saudi Arabia?
Well, Saudi Arabia is America's leading supplier of oil for our
gas guzzling SUVs and one of our key allies in our War on Terror.
What type of government does Saudi Arabia have?
The Saudi Royal Family uses press censorship, torture and brutality
to maintain control of its population, breeding more terrorists.
In fact, Osama bin Laden is Saudi.
Is it logical to ignore the type of government the Saudis have?
Why do we?
Saudi Arabia is a key ally in spreading freedom and democracy in
the Middle East.
Who else do we depend upon in our War on Terror?
What is the most important goal of President Bush's War on
Stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Which country did the Bush Administration find to be the most
prolific exporter of weapons of mass destruction technology?
Pakistan. Its leading nuclear scientist sold planeloads of nuclear
technology to North Korea.
Why didn't we attack Pakistan?
Pakistan is our ally in stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Where is Saudi Arabian Osama Bin Laden?
Reportedly hiding in the hills of Pakistan with other members of
Why is Pakistan our ally again?
We need Pakistan to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction
and to capture Osama Bin Laden.
Why are we in Iraq?
To win the War on Terror.
Did Iraq have anything to do with 9/11?
Then why did we attack Iraq?
We attacked Iraq to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Did we find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
Had Iraq exported weapons of mass destruction technology?
No, that was done by our ally; Pakistan.
Who attacked us on 9/11 again?
Egyptians and Saudi Arabians; our oppressive allies helping us spread
freedom and democracy in the Middle East.
Are you following all this? Great, welcome to the real world.
Remember, Catch-9/11 and the War on Terror will never end unless
you as a citizen decide to do something about it.
But be forewarned, if you raise your voice, write letters to the
editor, and protest a war that doesn't appear to have any logic,
the first thing opponents will say to you is exactly what they said
to students in the 1960s: "Get a job."