I went back to Davis last night for the homecoming game against Winston-Salem. Near the start of the game, five boisterous young men sat in front of us. They stood out a bit because they had streaks of blue and gold paint on their faces; Aggie football doesn't exactly invite face-painting intensity.
They were speaking another language and didn't seem to totally understand the rules, although they were spirited. I finally asked them where they were from: Saudi Arabia. They are here studying English, and they said they hoped to stay and go to school in Davis. They professed to love Davis and asked me questions about football. I noticed that they also weren't averting their eyes when the cheerleaders and their short skirts pranced in front of us.
As I was leaving, I told them I was glad they were here, and I hoped they enjoyed Davis. It was a very positive experience.
It also confirmed one of my oft-stated ideas. Instead of forcing democracy on people using a barrel of a gun, give them football. Give them cheerleaders. Give them beer.
We spend so much time talking about how we're the greatest country on earth, but the face we present to much of the world is wearing camouflage and yelling, "Get your hands in the air!" If the Taliban is as rotten as we say it is, it should eventually fall on its own. People want freedom. They want Rock Band. They want big screen televisions and cargo shorts and porn. They don't want foreigners breaking their doors down; they don't want their houses bombed.
Conservatives credit Reagan with "winning" the Cold War and bringing down the Soviet Union. It may surprise you to know that I don't. I think rock n' roll and blue jeans did it, along with the the lack of basic necessities like toilet paper. Gorbachev opened the door a crack, and Western Civilization came flooding in, without a shot fired.
Instead of dropping artillery, we should drop dvd's of Mad Men. We should leaflet their streets with copies of Playboy. Our Humvees should blare Kanye West, and our soldiers should throw beads and tube socks (that's what they were launching into the crowd last night, the Saudi Arabians ate it up, along with everyone else).
Give them running water, electricity, and a McDonald's on every corner, and they'd never think of blowing themselves up.