Momentum: KILLING THEM SOFTLY
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- There are two ways to train a dog -- affection and fe= ar. Maybe the United States has the same kind of choice when it comes to de= aling with its enemies. I am not alone in believing that we should try to e= nd terrorism with a combination of kindness and capitalism.
After World War II, Secretary of State George C. Marshall created a way= for the United States to help the war-torn countries of Europe --including= our enemy, Germany -- and make some money at the same time.
The Marshall Plan pumped billions of dollars into Europe and transformed= a region riven by two world wars into a peaceful and prosperous land. Who = would've foreseen in 1947 that the countries of Europe would meld their eco= nomies and currencies into the European Union? Or that Germany would rise u= p to become the economic powerhouse of Europe? Or that the countries that w= ere once under the control of the Soviet Union would be clamoring to join t= he EU?
Compared to the way the U.S. and its allies behaved after World War I, w= hen they tried to bleed Germany dry with reparations and humiliating demand= s that helped set the stage for another global war two decades later, the M= arshall Plan was truly an act of both generosity and enlightened self-inter= est.
"Wars are bred by poverty and oppression," Marshall once said. "Continue= d peace is possible only in a relatively free and prosperous world."
In Afghanistan today, around 5 million people rely on outside aid for th= eir survival. The United Nations estimates that up to 1.5 million Afghans w= ill be fleeing if the expected U.S. bombing occurs. There are already milli= ons of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Iran and other neighboring countries. T= hey are people who are desperately poor and have been desperately poor for = decades. It is the kind of poverty that breeds hatred, chaos and terror.
If the Marshall Plan worked once, maybe it can work again.
First, though, we must press Israel until it gives the Palestinians a st= ate with water. If I understand correctly, in the last treaty, the one that= was rejected by the Palestinians a year ago, the proffered land did not ha= ve an aquifer under it. Water would've come in by pipeline -- and the line = would've gone through Israeli territory. Would you let anyone else have con= trol over your water supply? Neither would I.
Remember the Greek story of the Gordian Knot? Whoever unraveled the twis= ted knot would rule, and no one could. Then someone -- some say Alexander t= he Great -- came along and cut it through with a sword. That's what has to = happen with Israel and Palestine now. It doesn't matter who is wrong or rig= ht. Everyone is wrong, and everyone is probably right, too. Cut it and move= on.
Then we must try to comprehend the minds of men so filled with hopelessn= ess and hatred for us that they are willing to die. Is it our religion? Ou= r so-called decadence? Our hypocrisy in flaunting our wealth,freedom and de= mocracy while at the same time backing with arms and dollarstotalitarian re= gimes in the Middle East, South America and Africa?
Probably it's all of = the above.
Many Muslim people -- but certainly not their leaders -- are poor. Afgha= nistan has been destroyed. The Palestinians have been oppressed for three g= enerations; some still live in refugee camps. Syrians, Pakistanis and Iraqi= s are oppressed. In many places in the world, people watch Americans consum= e most of the resources of the planet while their own futures look bleak an= d hopeless.
Without being arrogant or patronizing, America should find a way to help= them find futures. We are wealthy. We should share, and I don't mean blank= ets and food. We should smother them in job and computer training programs= . We should help them unleash their own entrepreneurial creativity. We sh= ould help them build factories, create infrastructures, and educate their c= hildren.
The jobs we help them create should not be McJobs paying a dollaror two = a day. They should be real jobs, with real pay and realpossibilities for ad= vancement.
This requires a change in our mindset. Wall Street thrives on = thelow-paying jobs that have turned much of the Third World into slave labo= rfor the First. For many years, Western civilization has been ill with itsl= ove for the bottom line.
However, the stock market would do well to remember September 11.On that= horrible day, the bodies of bond traders rained from the skies.The markets= plunged with them. Thousands lost their jobs. Whole industrieswere almost = destroyed.
Maybe now is the time to develop a compromise position between thebottom= line and doing the right thing.
A man can either kill himself and many o= thers in an explodingfireball, or make enough money at an interesting job t= o feed his familyand, maybe, buy his mother a house. Given a choice between= death and a reallife, I believe most people would choose the second option= .
If so, it would seriously cut into the number of supporters available to= Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, and a= ll the other radical groups out there. They would end upstanding alone, exp= osed and vulnerable.
Then they can be swept up and brought into our courts, where theywould b= e held accountable. Justice would be done.
There are real problems and dangers with this plan. We would need arelia= ble method of job creation. We would have to keep investments out of the ha= nds of corrupt rulers. We would have to be careful about protecting the env= ironment and developing alternative sources of energy, which would reinvigo= rate our own economy, too.
And we would need to be very careful about exporting "the American way o= f life." The Middle East has ancient and deep-rooted religions, cultures an= d civilizations. For our own survival as a nation, we need them to flourish= again.
Maybe the Marshall Plan will work again. And if we can figure out how to= share our wealth in the Middle East, maybe next we can turn our attention = to Compton, Harlem and Mississippi.
Joyce Marcel is a freelance journalist who writes about culture, politic= s, economics and travel.