The whole world is laughing at the Obama administration’s latest weapon in the War on Terror: jobs for jihadists. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf unveiled this new policy on Sunday.
“We cannot kill our way out of this war,” Harf explained on MSNBC. “We need, in the longer term, medium to longer term, to go after the root causes that leads [sic] people to join these groups.” She continued: “We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people.”
Amid ensuing global giggles, Harf doubled down on this initiative.
“We’ll take direct military action against these terrorists,” she told CNN yesterday. “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.”
I added this morning to the guffaws over this fascinating new way of treating the people who just beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians and burned alive 46 people in the last few weeks. I decided, nonetheless, to test the Harf Hypothesis. Does poverty equal militant Islamic terrorism . . . er, I mean, extremism? (Let’s not make anyone uncomfortable!)
The Global Terrorism Index is the work of Statista, a statistical portal that aggregates more than 18,000 data sources. As Statista explains, it “systematically ranks countries of the world according to their terrorist activity. Iraq ranked first on the global terrorism index with a score of 10 points, making it the country most affected by terrorism on Earth.”
For 2014, here are the top 10 nations affected by terrorism, as well as their Global Terrorism Index scores:
1. Iraq (10)
2. Afghanistan (9.39)
3. Pakistan (9.37)
4. Nigeria (8.58)
5. Syria (8.12)
6. India (7.86)
7. Somalia (7.41)
8. Yemen (7.31)
9. Philippines (7.29)
10. Thailand (7.19)
Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Agency publishes and regularly updates The World Factbook. Among other things, it ranks 228 nations around the world, from top to bottom, according to per-capita GDP, estimated on a purchasing-power-parity basis. (I tried to search the CIA’s website for something like Statista’s Global Terrorism Index. Oddly enough, the website’s search function is totally broken.) Here are the ten poorest nations on that list, along with their respective statistics.
219. Tokelau ($1,000)
220. Madagascar ($1,000)
221. Malawi ($900)
222. Niger ($800)
223. Liberia ($700)
224. Central African Republic ($700)
225. Burundi ($600)
226. Somalia ($600)
227. Zimbabwe ($600)
228. Democratic Republic of the Congo ($400)
The Harf Hypothesis would suggest that Earth’s ten most terrorized nations would be the ten poorest on the planet — or at least, these two lists largely should overlap.
In fact, only Somalia appears on both rankings.
So, let’s give Team Obama this: Their theory is 10 percent correct. This means that the Harf Hypothesis is only 90 percent ridiculous.
Continue the laughter!