On February 16, State Department spokesman Marie Harf appeared on Chris Matthew’s CNBC show, Hardball. Discussing the problem of defeating ISIS, Ms. Harf called upon one of the most used modern liberal solutions for just about everything – economic prosperity in the form of jobs magically created by an all powerful central government. Here is the pertinent portion of the exchange:
HARF: We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them. 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. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs, whether —
MATTHEWS: We’re not going to be able to stop that in our lifetime or fifty lifetimes. There’s always going to be poor people. There’s always going to be poor Muslims, and as long as there are poor Muslims, the trumpet’s blowing and they’ll join. We can’t stop that, can we?
HARF: 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…
Regardless of whether Ms. Harf was speaking “off the cuff”, revealing her own sentiments, or had prepared in advance to make these remarks as an official perspective of the State Department, she revealed an underlying but not always obvious truth of the American modern liberal movement. It lacks depth due to its exclusive focus on the consolidation of political power at home. The modern liberal manual of solutions was constructed to consolidate domestic political power. Though it has sadly proven to be effective in that regard, it is ill-suited for application to problems of national security.
As a result, Ms. Harf’s allusions to governments building better economies in order to create jobs seem, at best, incoherent ramblings calling for further explanation. At worst, they constitute an arrogant attempt to dissuade Americans. Perhaps Ms. Harf and the State Department believe that the American people are preconditioned to accept “more government provided jobs” as an answer to any problem, and so they expected a Pavlovian response from the audience. One might wonder whether she envisioned thousands of Americans staring at their televisions with blank looks on their faces, nodding their heads in agreement, and repeating, “MUST CREATE JOBS TO DEFEAT ISIS”.
I have an alternative vision. I envision thousands of Americans staring at their televisions with a stunned look of indignation on their faces having finally come to the realization that the modern liberal supposition of improved economic conditions in exchange for yielding more liberty to the state has always been a false promise. Ms. Harf’s ridiculous postulate that “more jobs” is the answer to defeating ISIS might prove to be a happy accident on her part if it helps to illustrate that modern liberal promises are generally hollow and devoid of any real benefit for anyone other than those seeking to maintain and consolidate power and their cronies who support them in return for patronage and favoritism.