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Change in foreign policy will avoid an 'American Hiroshima'

May 8, 2005
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

There is much in “American Hiroshima” that I believe to be true and hope is true. And there is much that I hope is not true.

When the author, David J. Dionisi of Davis, writes that “terror has its roots in the injustices of poverty,” that resonates with me.

When he suggests that American foreign policy is spectacularly flawed, I agree.

“Address the needs of the poor,” he says. That would be an effective foreign policy.

Dionisi suggests that the amount of money that the United States spends in Iraq in one month is enough to feed, clothe and educate all the orphans in Africa – that’s 11 million orphans -- for a year.

“And what we have already spent in Iraq would care for those orphans for 20 years,” he says.

He argues that if those dollars had been spent effectively and compassionately across the globe 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be fighting terrorism today.

In a world where 24,000 people a day die of hunger, Dionisi figures there’s a role for the United States to play. Feed the hungry and you’ll be making friends, not encouraging terrorism.

“Some people say that world hunger will always be here,” he said. “But I say, no, it doesn’t have to be that way. The amount of money Americans and Europeans spend on pet food per year -- $17 billion – could end world hunger,” he said.

Clean drinking water could be provided worldwide for $10 billion a year in a world where $14 billion a year is spent on ocean cruises, according to the World Watch Institute.

“But the more compelling figure is this: We spend $5 billion a month in Iraq and what do we accomplish?” asks Dionisi.

If the United States is the No. 1 super power in the world, he says, the No. 2 super power is not another nation but a worldwide network of terrorists from different nations.

“And yet we have more terrorist attacks occurring around the world and it will get worse,” he predicts.

In fact, Dionisi has titled his book “American Hiroshima” after an al Qaeda plan he says Osama bin Laden is working on.

This is the part where I hope Dionisi is wrong. (But who would have believed him or anyone else if the 9-11 attack had been predicted?)

Under this plan a 10-kiloton bomb will be placed on an airplane, which will be flown into an American nuclear power plan. The goal is to kill four million Americans. Dionisi identifies eight target areas – New York City is at the top of the list with San Francisco and Boston at the bottom. For more information on this plan, go to Dionisi’s web site at www.americanhiroshima.info

By now you must be wondering who this guy Dionisi is and why he is saying these things. The why is easy. Dionisi firmly believes that extreme kindness and extreme generosity can have big payoffs worldwide. The who is a little harder.

Dionisi is a former intelligence officer who served in South Korea and Turkey, a former executive in corporate American who worked for several companies including Met Life, and an international volunteer who currently helps run a Catholic orphanage in Liberia, West Africa.

“When I started the book I was a conservative Republican,” he said. Now he is no longer a Republican, even if he is not a Democrat.

His wife, Stephanie, is from San Francisco. After living outside Boston for many years, they decided to move to Northern California to be closer to her parents. He grew up in Massachusetts and earned an MBA at University of San Francisco.

When they decided to move back to the West Coast, they wanted to live in a place that would benefit their children.

“We wanted to be in a community where we could walk and the kids could ride their bikes,” he said.

Davis seemed to fill the bill. They moved here in July.

“We found what we thought was a perfect mix here,” he said.

He prefers to end any discussion of world problems on a positive note. Problems can be solved, he insists. But American foreign policy has got to change.

“Why not recognize that addressing human suffering is in our best interest?” he asks.

If you want to discuss some of these themes with Dionisi, you can meet him on Saturday, May 28, 7:30 p.m., at the Avid Reader bookstore in downtown Davis, 617 Second St.

-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at gizmo@dcn.org and watch for more local writers to be featured biweekly at this web site.

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