State Dept. Official: US Can’t ‘Kill Our Way Out Of This War’ With Islamic State

The U.S. can win the war against the Islamic State terror group by tackling poverty over the long term in the Middle East instead of trying to "kill our way out," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
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February 17, 2015 10:09 a.m.

The U.S. can win the war against the Islamic State terror group in the long term by tackling economic disparities instead of trying to “kill our way out,” a State Department spokeswoman argued Monday night.

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” pointed to the mass beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya when he asked State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf if the U.S. was killing enough Islamic State militants.

“We’re killing a lot of them, and we’re gonna keep killing more of them,” Harf responded. “So are the Egyptians. So are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us.”

“But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war,” she continued. “We need in the medium- and longer-term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs –“

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Matthews stepped in to challenge Harf on that point.

“We’re not going to be able to stop that in our lifetime, or 50 lifetimes,” he said. “There’s always gonna be poor people, there’s always gonna be poor Muslims. As long as there are poor Muslims, the trumpet’s blowing, they’ll join. We can’t stop that, can we?”

Harf responded that the U.S. government can work with terror-stricken countries to improve their systems of government and boost their economies to produce more job opportunities.

“You’re right, there’s no easy solution in the long term to preventing and combating violent extremism,” she said. “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 trying to start a business? Maybe we can try to chip away at this problem, while at the same going after the threat, taking on ISIL in Iraq, in Syria, and helping our partners around the world.”

Matthews scoffed at Harf’s proposal, comparing it to political platitudes about eliminating juvenile delinquency at home in the U.S.

“The American people I think are getting humiliated morally by this,” Matthews said. “We are seeing these pictures. What are you supposed to say, ‘Think about something else?'”

Watch below via MSNBC:

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