This is precisely how any organization would hope their spokesperson might respond when entangled in a controversy of their own making: Doubling down and petulantly insisting that your many critics are idiots.
On Monday, Harf was the subject of criticism after she claimed that the only real way to neutralize the danger posed by a messianic death cult that threatens to erode the foundations of Westphalian sovereignty is to provide them all with good paying jobs.
Allahpundit pondered whether Harf was articulating administration policy that is aimed at absolving the White House of fault when they inevitably fail to address the ISIS threat comprehensively:
“Once you identify a root cause in an enemy with whom you’re at war, you’re expected to do something about it to erode their support. If the root cause is Middle Eastern unemployment and economic stagnation, well, that’s something the U.S. government can address, at least at the margins.” he theorized. “If the root cause is Islamic doctrine and identity, from which Salafists take their inspiration and for which they hope to establish a durable caliphate, there ain’t much the United States can do.”
That’s possible, but there is no great Marshall Plan-in-waiting for Syria and Iraq. Surely, the administration would love to berate Republicans who fail to appropriate funds for roads and bridges in Mosul and Raqqa in the same away that they have for Mobile and Raleigh, but the president has not proposed a massive post-war reconstruction project for the region. The reason for that is simple: Obama does not expect to see the post-war period as president. This fight is being slow-walked, and Obama has committed to bequeathing to his successor the ISIS threat that he helped incubate though neglect.
In any case, Harf sought to put out a few fires on Tuesday and, as any competent and capable spokesperson would, she only made her situation worse (hat tip to Real Clear Politics):
When Wolf Blitzer observed that the poverty-breeds-terrorism theory is hopelessly flawed and that high-profile attackers like Osama bin Laden and Mohamed Atta were relatively comfortable and privileged, Harf declined to acknowledge his point. Though she issued an emphatic “absolutely” so as to convey that she was, in fact, listening to Blitzer and understood the words that were coming out of his mouth, she instead plunged into a pre-canned attempt at damage control as her response:
“If we looked around the world and say long-term we cannot kill every terrorist around the world nor should we try, how do you get at the root causes of this?” she asked. “Look, it might be too nuanced of an argument for some like I’ve seen over the past 24 hours some of the commentary out but it’s really the smart way for Democrats, for Republicans, military commanders, our partners in the Arab world think we need to combat it.”
There’s really no other way to interpret that. If you don’t think that statements like “we can’t kill our way out of this war” and asserting that ISIS militants “lack opportunity for jobs” oversimplifies the crisis in the Middle East, Harf does not believe that you are her intellectual equal.
Harf’s comments reflect the left’s odd preoccupation to ascribe more value to the post-war reconstruction aid that the United States has traditionally provided both vanquished and occupied peoples than they do to the victory in the actual war. It should go without saying that there is no post-war reconstruction period without a thorough and unambiguous victory over the adversary in warfare. First comes capitulation and subjugation, and only then can there be a cultural reformation.
Many on the left seem, consciously or otherwise, married to the notion that you can win a war by airdropping bales of money over hostile targets. It’s a lovely fantasy, and there is nothing “nuanced” about it. In fact, it’s a rather unsophisticated concept. Those who think that an enemy needs to be defeated before they can be converted are not missing Harf’s infinitely complex point. That she would flatter herself into believing that she had spoken over the nation’s heads reflects the hubris that explains her insultingly naïve belief that this abhorrent ideology can only be defeated by an army of career counselors.