Fighting a war by fighting poverty

Having already criticized a State Department spokeswoman for suggesting that job creation should be a strategy in fighting the Islamic State, I am struck by the amazing outrage by right-wing media over her comments.

I hope I stipulated clearly that I wouldn’t join the right-wing hysteria in questioning President Obama’s commitment to destroying ISIL. Others have done enough of that already. Some of the comments are contained in the link attached to this blog post. Take a look. They’re pretty wild.

Media Matters, a left-wing media watchdog website, has produced a most interesting video showing President Bush offering strikingly similar advice in 2002, at a conference in Monterrey, Mexico.

While the comments of State Department flack Marie Harf have drawn considerable condemnation, it fascinates me that President Bush said more than a dozen years ago, “We fight against poverty because hope is an answer to terror. We fight against poverty because opportunity is a fundamental right to human dignity.”

Perhaps Harf’s comments got blown out of proportion, and weren’t viewed in the totality of the message she sought to deliver on MSNBC’s “Hardball” show with Chris Matthews. I regret not digesting fully all of what she said, which included comments about the administration’s intention to keep killing terrorists as the war on terror rages on.

I just caution, though, that war remains the dirtiest business that humankind ever conducts. It must be fought hard and it must be fought with the intent to defeat the enemy. There can be no doubt about our enemy’s intentions on the current battlefield — and there should be no doubt about our own intentions.

If working quietly with nations that produce terror cells to alleviate the root cause of people taking up arms against the United States and our allies is part of an overall strategy that includes waging all-out war, then by all means let’s proceed.

Let’s never lose sight of the undeniable fact that we’re dealing with a nasty enemy, as Presidents Bush and Obama both have understood.


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