The Corner

State Department’s Harf: ‘We Cannot Kill Our Way Out of this War’ with ISIS

Also on last night’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf stopped by to argue that the solution to defeating the Islamic State is finding economic opportunity for young Muslim men, because “we cannot kill our way out of this war.”

Harf’s appearance came after a weekend that saw 21 Coptic Christians beheaded and a gunman open fire at a free-speech debate in Copenhagen, as Brendan notes. Matthews pressed Harf on the lack of a strong and meaningful response to the growing threat of Islamic extremism worldwide.

“If I were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now,” Matthews said. “Nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.”

While Harf assured viewers that “a lot” of Islamic State fighters have been killed, she also claimed that force isn’t the most effective strategy for combatting ISIS. “We cannot win this war by killing them — we cannot kill our way out of this war,” she said.

Instead, she argued that the United States and its allies need to focus on the “root causes,” such as the lack of job opportunities for young Muslims. She said discouraged 17-year-olds opt to “pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business” due to their socioeconomic situation.

Matthews appeared unsatisfied with that argument, comparing it to an approach to dealing with juvenile delinquents, as opposed to violent, well-armed extremists.

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