With the situation in the Middle East continuing to worsen, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf claimed Monday that the U.S. will not be able to “kill our way” out of war against ISIS.
Her claim comes one day after ISIS released a video purportedly showing 21 Coptic Christians being beheaded near Tripoli.
Harf made the claim to a pessimistic Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” Monday night.
“How do we win? How do we stop this?” Matthews asked Harf. “If I were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now…Nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.”
“I think there’s a few stages here,” Harf started. “Right now, what we’re doing is trying to take their leaders and their fighters off the battlefield in Iraq and in Syria. That’s really where they flourish.”
“We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them, so are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians they’re in this fight with us,” Harf told Matthews. “But we cannot win this war by killing them, we cannot kill our way out of this war. We need, in the longer term, medium and longer term, to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs.”
“There is no easy solution in the long-term to preventing and combating violent extremism, but if we can help countries work at the root causes of this, what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of try to start a business?” Harf asked. “Maybe we can try to chip away at this problem, while at the same time going after the threat, taking on ISIL in Iraq, in Syria, and helping our partners around the world.”
“This sounds like we’re going to get rid of juvenile delinquency in America over time by erasing poverty, improving education. Sure, over time,” Matthews said. “But the American people, I think, are getting humiliated morally by this…What are the American people supposed to do about this?”
“They should know that the United States military is taking direct action in Iraq and in Syria. We’re taking their leaders out. We’re taking out their financing. We’re taking out their training camps. This is a long fight,” Harf said. “But I also think, not to take it to politics for a second, they should tell their elected leaders to support the AUMF that we sent to Congress.”