Anybody who saw the movie “Patton” remembers this famous line from the film’s opening: “I want you to remember,” said George C. Scott as the infamous general, “that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”
But according to State Department spokesmodel Marie Harf, Patton was wrong. The way to win a war is to give the enemy’s youth’s jobs. As a guest on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Harf contended:
We can not win this war [against the Islamic State] by killing them; we cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium and longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups.
And what might those causes be? Why, a lack of jobs for young people. Lacking gainful employment, kids in “places like Libya” resort to extremism. This refreshingly novel view is certainly not shared by our allies in Egypt and Jordan who are calling for revenge and engaging in an air war on the enemy. These nations are foolishly acting as though the way to defeat a bloodthirsty killing machine like the Islamic State is to treat it like the cancer it is.
In the first exchange below notice that host Chris Matthews dares to describe the 21 beheaded people as Christians, breaking with the standard White House narrative. He further intimates that the IS is trying to humiliate the Christian world.
Matthews: What do we do as Americans when we look at 21 Christians beheaded for the purposes of humiliating us, the Christian world, the Western world? It’s aimed at us, those pictures.
Harf: Well I think it underscores to people that it isn’t just a fight in Iraq and in Syria and it’s not just a fight about dropping bombs on terrorists. It’s really how we stop the causes that lead to extremism in a place like Libya. The fact that there’s no governance and there’s no opportunity for young people. It lets groups like ISIL grow there and flourish there, which is what we saw with this awful situation with these Egyptians which you just mentioned. But this is a longer fight; it’s fighting them on social media. Like you just said, these videos they’ve produced are very technical, they’re using social media to get converts to their cause and to spread their hatred all over the world. This week, we’ll have over 60 countries in Washington to talk about combating this violent extremism together in the long term not just the short-term fight.
As Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War 2,500 years ago, “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”
It is the policy of this administration not to know the enemy, and they are getting some help from the MSNBC star. Both Matthews and Harf dance around the fact that the enemy consists of Muslim extremists. Matthews comes close calling them Shias and Sunnis in the exchange below but doesn’t press Harf on the issue of identifying the enemy by name:
Matthews: Well how do we win? How do we stop this? I don’t see it; I see the Shia militias coming out of Baghdad who are all Shia. The Sunnis hate them. The Sunnis are loyal to ISIS rather than going in with the Shia. You have the Kurds, the Jordanian air force and now the Egyptian air force, but I don’t see — if I were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now. There’s no existential threat to these people. They can keep finding places to hold executions and putting the camera work together, getting their props ready and killing people for show and nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.
Harf: Well, I think there’s a few stages here. Right now what we’re doing is trying to take their leaders and their fighters off the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, that’s really where they flourish.
Cross-posted at The Lid