Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, June 30, 1999

Ban the bomb,
bribe the Bozos

SO now that the war in Yugoslavia is over, we're putting a $5 million bounty on the head of Serbian prez Slobodan Milosevic, which is roughly the cost of five cruise missiles or about five minutes worth of fighting.

I hate to play Monday Morning Quartermaster, but wouldn't we have saved billions of dollars, not to mention quite a few bombs and missiles, if we had put a hefty reward on Milosevic from the get-go? But $5 million is chump change. For say, $500 million, Russian President Boris Yeltsin would have flown to Belgrade and wrestled Slobodan to the ground.

For that kind of dough, Slobo's generals would have mutinied. In effect, we would have won the war simply by paying a "bounty on the mutiny." (Sorry. Had to get that out of my system.)

Compared to the cost of combat, not to mention the bombing boo-boos that left hundreds of innocent civilians extremely dead, $500 million would have been a bargain. (NATO killed about 3,000 Serbians during the war, mostly night watchmen. The worst job in Belgrade for several months has been night watchman in some factory or power plant. You can just hear the guys from the day shift: "See ya in the morning, Radovak. Maybe. Ho, ho, ho.")

All those Russian troops gathering in the region have got to be tempted by the $5 million reward. That's a lot of rubles. And, with the Russian economy in the toilet, Russian soldiers haven't been paid in awhile. If they had some spending cash they could at least buy a few Meals Ready to Eat from the American troops.

(Well, they could buy the creamed chicken MRE's. The Americans probably wouldn't sell the spicy meat sauce and beef stew MREs. I've tasted them. They aren't half bad. But the creamed chicken looks like something a refugee's cat coughed up and tastes worse.)

Bounty Politics could be the answer to dealing with all the evil dictators scattered around the world. Our new foreign policy should be: Ban the Bomb, Bribe the Bozos. All you have to do is have the World Court in The Hague indict the bad guy you want taken out of the picture. (This isn't that hard. The World Court can indict a bowl of cabbage soup if it wants to. Taking the bowl of cabbage soup into custody apparently is another matter.)

Then you figure out how much it would cost to try to bomb the bad guy out of business. Then you cut that figure in half and post that as a reward. After that, you just sit back and let the sniveling little weasels that generally surround these bad guys do the dirty work. You've cut your wartime operating costs in half.

If you make the reward big enough, all kinds of people will attempt to collect. Television war correspondents like Christiane Amanpour will start shooting their interview subjects with tranquilizer darts and hauling them across borders on goat carts.

Lucky thing for Slobodan he didn't have a $500 reward on his head when the Rev. Jesse Jackson dropped by. Jesse's a righteous fella but the "Rainbow Coalition" can always use another color, especially green.

Now, there's a chance that if you put a bounty on some rich homicidal maniac like Iraq's Saddam Hussein, he'd just put a bigger bounty on President Clinton. But that wouldn't work because none of Clinton's loyal aides, like George Stephanopoulos or Dick Morris, would ever betray him. Wait a second. Maybe this bounty idea isn't so good after all.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

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