With apologies to Sir Isaac Newton, it might be said that for every idiotic comment to emanate from the mouths of the two official spokesmodels for the Obama State Department, there will be an even more idiotic comment.
On Monday, Marie Harf, the blond and bespectacled half of this illustrious tag team, opined on MSNBC that the way to “degrade” — to borrow the administration’s verb — the Islamic State was to help young people “in places like Libya” to find gainful employment. “The fact that there’s no governance and there’s no opportunity for young people,” said Harf. “It lets groups like ISIL grow there and flourish there.”
For that unintentionally hilarious observation, Harf was pilloried by commentators, chiefly on the right, though her MSNBC interlocutor, Chris Matthews, appeared skeptical.
Yesterday, she attempted to take on her critics via a self-serving PR blitz that included a tweetstorm and an appearance on CNN’s “Situation Room,” where she dug her herself into a much deeper hole by claiming that her comments “might be too nuanced an argument for some”:
A transcript of the money portion of her comments follows, with reaction:
I’m not the first person to say something like this. Military commanders that we’ve had throughout many years here fighting this war on terrorism have said the exact same thing, that in the short term when there’s a threat like ISIL, we’ll take direct military action against these terrorists. We have done that. We are doing that in Iraq and Syria. But longer term, we have to look at how we combat the conditions that can lead people to turn to extremism.
It is true that others have made similar claims, including prominent voices on the right. One of them, as Harf notes in a tweet, is is George W. Bush:
And let’s not forget George W Bush’s comments on CVE: “We fight against poverty because hope is an answer to terror”: http://t.co/Du68tsrjHd
— Marie Harf (@marieharf) February 17, 2015
But the simple matter of the fact is that Bush was mistaken then as Harf and other members of Team Obama are now. If anything, the current administration refuses to identify — much less deal with — “the conditions that can people to turn to extremism,” which are the flourishing of radical Islamic teachings. It should also be noted that when Bush made his comments in 2002, the world was dealing with an entirely different class of terrorist animal in al Qaeda, the leadership of which commented that ISIS is “too extreme” even for their tastes.
As for Harf’s comments being “too nuanced,” that’s much too easy a target.