Playing both sides of a war

By first deliberately relinquishing and now refusing to re-establish the energy independence the U.S. enjoyed under Pres. Trump (and thereby perpetuating U.S. and world dependence on Russian oil), the U.S is, in effect, bankrolling Putin's military adventurism.

The way the U.S. under Joe Biden is conducting itself regarding Russia's invasion of Ukraine reminds me of a character in literary fiction and pop culture.  That character is Milo Minderbinder, from Joseph Heller's 1961 novel Catch-22. For those who may not have read the book but remember the 1970 movie, Milo was the character played by Jon Voight.

Milo is the quintessential example of playing both sides of a war. He is an American Army Air Corps officer, but his "side hustle" is operating M&M Enterprises, a black market "syndicate" that does business all over the world, using the planes from his own squadron to trade in goods and services ranging from fresh eggs to prostitutes to Egyptian cotton (and when stuck with a glut of cotton, Milo tries to sell it covered in chocolate).

Milo's greatest act of playing both sides is when he contracts with the enemy, the Germans, to bomb his own base. As the bombs are falling, he assures his fellow airmen that it's OK because it's all done for profit by "the syndicate," in which "everybody has a share."

How is Milo different from Biden & Co.? Milo does what he does because he is a hyper-capitalist who sees opportunities for profit everywhere; he is, by definition, a war profiteer. Even when he's court-martialed for treason, he bases his defense on capitalism and the enormous profits his enterprise has generated. He's corrupt, but he's competent at what he does.

Joe Biden, however, while also corrupt to the core, is hardly competent at anything except getting elected (which he's somehow managed for a half-century, absent any other actual accomplishment).

And, rather than merely pursuing personal profit, he seeks to advance the agenda of his former (?) boss, Barack Obama: the "fundamental transformation of America," a major tenet of which is, under the guise of seeking "clean, green energy" to counter "climate change," to "skyrocket" the cost of energy. And that helps to weaken America overall, so it can be transformed, for "the betterment of mankind," from a systemically racist, white supremacist, oppressive, homo- and trans-phobic, warmongering imperialist nation, into a Marxist utopia.

That's why Biden & Co., rather than restore our energy independence, would rather see us buying oil from the very nation we so vociferously condemn for its unprovoked invasion of its neighbor. While with one hand we impose "tough economic sanctions" on Russia, with the other we are writing Russia a check.

And even when confronted about being on both sides of this conflict (as even some of the Mainstream Media's lackeys are beginning to do), the Biden regime's response is to propose that, rather than drill for and produce our own oil, and instead of buying our oil from Russia, we should be buying it from the likes of Iran and Venezuela, countries that are clearly not our friends (Venezuela has already been transformed into a Marxist utopia).

So, frankly, the biggest difference between Milo Minderbinder and the Biden regime -- besides that one is fictional and the other all too real! -- is that one is driven by a mere capitalistic pursuit of profit, while the other is driven by a pursuit of power (political power, military power, economic power, absolute power; see "The Secret of Socialism," American Thinker, Aug. 2011) and an evil, anti-American, Marxist agenda.

Oh, and another difference is that one was tried for treason, while we can only hope for that to someday happen to the other.

Stu Tarlowe has contributed over 150 pieces to American Thinker. His personal pantheon of heroes and role models includes Barry Farber, Jean Shepherd, Long John Nebel, Aristide Bruant, Col. Jeff Cooper, Rabbi Meir Kahane and G. Gordon Liddy. He was recently employed as a staff writer for the online magazine of a think tank dealing in analysis and forecasting of political and societal trends, but when he had to be hospitalized for COVID he was replaced. Having recovered, he now writes on a variety of topics (political and personal) in his newsletter at

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