John Stossel

I don't claim that this will end all conflict, but it is harder for radicals to make you hate people who sell you things, inspire you to change your hairstyle or make movies that make you laugh.

When the Soviet Union fell, conservatives said it happened because of Ronald Reagan's military buildup. OK, that played a part. But so did American music.

In 1988, Bruce Springsteen held a concert in East Berlin, and even there, behind the Iron Curtain, 160,000 people came to hear him perform. And they knew the words to "Born in the USA" and sang along. Springsteen stopped his performance and told the crowd he hoped one day all the barriers would be torn down. One year later, the Berlin Wall did come down.

I don't claim that America's culture, consumer goods or Bruce Springsteen was entirely responsible for that, but the obvious comparison between Soviet repression and America's vibrancy did play a part. Eventually, people in the Soviet bloc wanted what we had.

These cultural and economic influences work, and they are less likely to create new enemies and bankrupt America than bombing and invading.

So let tourism flow. Let our music alarm mullahs. Let neocons donate books to the Middle East filled with ideas dictators hate. Let our cell phones expose isolated people to the wonders of the free world.

There are times when we have to go to war, but real progress means making those times as rare as possible.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate