Featured Column
Week of 7.26.2004
How pleasant it is to have money
Can money stop wars?
           I’m sure there are some true, dedicated, nutso terrorists. My hunch is that most of them are followers, inflamed with vague promises of a glorious hereafter, imbibed with an heinous hatred or filled with a jealous rage at those who have more than them. Once in a while an Osama bin Laden will appear, and using his family’s riches, will foment terrorism when he could be relaxing in Saudi Arabia enjoying peeled grapes being tossed down his gullet. He’s the exception.
          Most of these guys are poor schleps with no education, no talents and no income and just happy to be doing something that can get them excited. The terrorist roll call is filled with young men who have little or no hope for their futures. For the first time in their miserable lives they are given power in the form of a rifle and some bullets. Some of them are so gullible and in need of status that they are willing to be girdled with explosives and told to walk into a crowd of people and pull the cord – turning themselves into mush along with those innocents close to them.
           Our armed forces in Iraq are battling heated up youngsters who have been exposed only to the bellowing hatreds of a few cockeyed leaders. They see Americans and envision big cars, big houses, filled wallets and McDonald’s. They hate us for having what they don’t have – and I have a hunch – what they would love to have.
          So far, this battle for the minds (and oil) of these legions of poor followers has cost us a thousand lives and billions of dollars and there is no end in sight. 
          Our armies fire modern weapons at their guys and they kidnap our people or drive around in old, junk cars filled with dynamite, looking for a vulnerable location to commit suicide by sending parts of their bodies to the desert winds – and killing a dozen innocent women and children. 
          Rather than continuing the madness, which has little chance of succeeding, why not change our mode of operation and try something that doesn’t involve the killing of those we don’t like or those we fear may harm us someday in the future.
          Here’s my proposal. Get some of those homebuilders, like the firms that build tract after tract in southern California. Instead of buying bullets and 2,000 pound bombs that cost a few million each and instead of exposing our young men and women to the dangers of 12-year old snipers, take that money and build thousands of low-cost homes in the north, east, south and west areas of Iraq. Then, using our tax money that previously was spent on bombs and bullets, take that amount and offer something like $10,000 to each of these misguided terrorists – the poor schleps who have never had anything in their lives except hatred and false hopes.
           Tell them that they can have a house and the $10,000 if they lay down their arms, walk away from Osama bin Laden and become a member of this peaceful, new community. Build schools, mosques, churches and factories and notify these ex-faux terrorists that they can have their new home as long as they are peaceful and contribute to their new community. They can become their community’s policemen, plumbers, electricians, gardeners and bankers. They must give up their terrorist ways and become peaceful members of this new community. Any breach of trust in the peaceful ways of the community will cause the resident to be expelled.
          Our commitment is that we will spend the same amount on building their peaceful communities as we spent on killing them. Americans will not have to increase the amount of taxes we pay to subsidize these new, peaceful communities. Hopefully, the United Nations will join this new crusade and other nations will realize that most citizens of the world want homes and food and hope for their future and their children’s futures.
           Can terrorists be persuaded to lay down their arms and forego the killing? Can men and women who have had no hope from the time they were born leave their tents and walk in the front door of a modern home, with electricity and air conditioning. Can men with full stomachs give up the killing? Can families leave their hatreds behind and enter their mosques in safety and leave in safety with hope for a tomorrow?
          A dream? Sure. Can something like this work, even on a small scale? After 5,000 years of killing and slaughter it will take a miracle to bring peace to the region.
          I’m just not sure if the miracle comes with a loaded rifle, rockets and tanks.
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger