The Cable

Congressman Seeks Ham Sandwich to Defeat ISIS

A U.S. lawmaker criticized State Department efforts to combat the Islamic State Tuesday, saying American officials suffered from a “Eurocentric” understanding of the world. His suggestion: Instead of propagating videos that expose the group’s brutality, diplomats should catch the terror group’s leadership eating deli meats forbidden by Islamic law and disseminate that footage.

Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California, talks to his communications director at his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. Janet Yellen can stay on GodÕs path by waiting until springtime to raise interest rates, Congressman Sherman told the Federal Reserve chair during a House Financial Services Committee hearing. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California, talks to his communications director at his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. Janet Yellen can stay on GodÕs path by waiting until springtime to raise interest rates, Congressman Sherman told the Federal Reserve chair during a House Financial Services Committee hearing. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A U.S. lawmaker criticized State Department efforts to combat the Islamic State Tuesday, saying American officials suffered from a “Eurocentric” understanding of the world. His suggestion: Instead of propagating videos that expose the group’s brutality, diplomats should catch the terror group’s leadership eating non-halal deli meats and disseminate that footage.

“We have a State Department with people who think that you can show the evil of al-Baghdadi if you can show him personally executing a defenseless Yazidi,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), referring to the Islamic State’s leader. “We need people who understand that if you can just get a picture of him eating a ham sandwich, that would undermine ISIS and its recruiting ability.”

The State Department and Congress have long disagreed about the best methods of fighting the root causes of terrorism. Lawmakers often allocate money for hard security measures, such as law enforcement and border control, while Foggy Bottom emphasizes the importance of programs on prison deradicalization, rehabilitation and good-governance.

In his rather unique critique, Sherman chided the department’s habit of recruiting a workforce with Ivy League credentials.

“We need State Department people to [have] an understanding of Islamic jurisprudence,” he said. “That’s not the kind of knowledge that you can get at Princeton. Woodrow Wilson did  a great job. He did not memorize the Koran.”

Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, was president of Princeton University in the early 1900s.

Sherman spoke at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee ahead of the testimony of Justin Siberell, the State Department’s acting coordinator for counterterrorism.

Getty Images

John Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, where he covers diplomacy and national security issues in Washington. He has reported from several geopolitical hotspots, including Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Georgia. Prior to joining FP, John covered politics and global affairs for the Atlantic magazine’s news blog, the Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August war between Russia and Georgia from Tbilisi and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, Al Jazeera, and other broadcast outlets. He has been with the magazine since 2013. @john_hudson

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