Make wealth, not war

By on March 11, 2015

Even though most living Americans weren’t even born until after World War II, we seem stuck in celebrating and re-celebrating its glory. True, it wasn’t all patriotism and sacrifice and bravery, as there were profiteers and draft dodgers and thousands of American citizens rounded up and thrown into concentration camps. But, overall, it was America’s shining moment, a time when we came together, worked together and sacrificed together to end some real evil in the world. The sad truth, however, is that we, the vast majority of us, haven’t done so well at war since then.

It’s not surprising because what we really do well is marketing. In fact, we’re so good at marketing that we’ve actually recreated the art. The original concept was to assess a need and fill it. Now we create needs that people didn’t know they had, and then sell them something that they really didn’t need to fill the need we’ve created. That’s how we make wealth in this country.

Now, I’m a firm adherent of doing what you do well and not trying to do what you’re no good at. So, why are we invading Iraq? Why are we contemplating sending troops against ISIS? Why are we droning northwest Pakistan and Yemen? Those bad apples have figured out a way to hammer us on the cheap…it’s called asymmetrical warfare. And we simply can never make enough ultra-expensive smart bombs, fast enough, to blow up every bunch of jihadists in every pick-up truck. Meanwhile, the people who know how to convince you that you may have some disease you never heard of and then convince you to convince your doctor to give you their big-buck medicine have been relegated to the rear as we try to fight this current evil the old-fashioned way, with bombs and bullets.

During the Vietnam War, some pundit proposed an alternative to dropping bombs on North Vietnam. Since the incredibly MacGyver-ish North Vietnamese would come out of their holes each night and completely rebuild the bridges we’d bombed during the day, he proposed loading those B-52’s with junk cars, broken washing machines and similar land-fill-bound detritus, and dropping it on that country. They’d be so busy fixing that stuff that they wouldn’t have time for war and would soon join us by sliding down the slippery slope of materialism. Instead of killing potential customers, we could sell them more. And build wealth. Well, that was a good idea then, and it’s a good idea now. But, in the Muslim world, we need to be more target-specific. It’s the women who are the key.

Yes, they may wear veils; they may not be allowed to drive, or vote, or to be seen in public with another man. They may be whipped, or stoned or publicly humiliated for the slightest breach of sharia law. But is that situation all that different than the situation of women in this country not all that long ago? I have two words for you: Virginia Slims. I think the marketing of that product into the social churn of the times became a rallying launch pad for the whole feminist movement…and all the marketing opportunities it created. And you know how far that’s come, baby!

So, instead of doing it the old-fashioned way, with the high-tech implements of our war machine, how about we try “attacking” all the materialistically-challenged females in those strife-torn mid-east countries with our even more advanced arsenal of marketing weapons. Use our intelligence assets to assemble mailing lists, print endless catalogs and create irresistible deals delivered through social media. Drop coupons from the drones instead of Hellfire missiles. Those balaclava-clad terrorists will have to quit the front lines to skedaddle home to get a job so they can fund their women-folks’ ever-growing demand for cosmetics, diet dinners, slinky undergarments, five-inch heels, lawn care, bathroom tissue with aloe. And, since they don’t have ready suppliers for those things, American companies can step in, creating jobs and building wealth here at home.

Some might say that the whole ISIS thing is an ideological reaction to modernism, so trying to tempt their women with western ways would be going in the wrong direction. I think that grossly underestimates the corruptive power of American marketing. After all, we Americans are seemingly much more sophisticated, and marketing has completely overcome our ability to reason and resist. Ideology? We don’ need no stinkin’ ideology! Just fill those bomb bays with push-up bras and Botox cream and let’s get back to business.

Dave Bucher, of Lititz, is a freelance columnist who shares his perspective with the Record Express each month. He welcomes reader feedback at


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