I recently re-watched Top Gun with my children. This is what we thought of it: Radical!
As I always do with movies I love, I immediately headed to Wikipedia after the screening to soak up additional context. Turns out, the movie was inspired by this incredibly written article by Ehud Yonay in California Magazine. First published in 1983, Yonay tells the story of two pilots named “Yogi” and “Possum” and how they navigate “Top Gun,” along with two excellent sidebar stories about taking a flight in an F-5 and how to fly one.
“When I climbed out of the cockpit at the end of our hourlong flight, I couldn’t even swagger,” Yonay writes. “Every muscle in my body ached, I was exhausted and slightly nauseated, and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. But they tell me the first time is the worst, and I can’t wait to get up there again.”
FUN FACT: Top Gun has since moved to Fallon, Nevada. My family visited it several years ago on a press trip and were floored by the air maneuvers (or “hops” as they used to say). Looked like something out of Inception—jets flying straight up and down at speeds I’ve never seen before!
My heart sank when I read the print edition of this story yesterday. In short, $360 million of U.S. taxpayer money, intended to fund the military, was outsourced to Middle East criminals, terrorists, and even the Taliban, the very organization that money aimed to disrupt.
Here’s how I processed the news.
- I’m thankful to live in a country with a free press and democratic government willing to share such corrupt news. Neither are perfect, but reports like this are proof that there is still good in the world; good enough to let this kind of stuff come to light.
- $360 million is a fraction of total defense spending, and thankfully, as far as we know, much of it still falls in the right hands. Unfortunately, 1/3 of a billion is an incredible amount of money for criminals and mountain-dwelling terrorists intent on building bombs and blowing things up. It’s inexcusable.
- Why can’t the U.S. military enlist cooks, truck drivers, security convoys— virtual everything— from within? You know, like the good ole days, when soldiers worked in mess halls etc. Stop outsourcing our military, and we’ll minimize said corruption.
- Stop awarding closed defense contracts or open contracts to non-U.S. suppliers. What advantage does this bring? I understand President Obama awards contracts to Afghan companies in an effort to stabilize their economy. But is that the purpose of defense spending? Shouldn’t it be defense, not economic development? It’s counterproductive.
- Can we pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq already, Vietnam style? Just do it. I know there are cronies in those countries who don’t want the sugar daddy to leave, but it is high time. Then reinvest half of the savings into intelligence operations to thwart and outsmart terrorism as best we can, as opposed to occupying nations.
Did I miss anything?