Soft Power Necessary for Victory Against ISIS

The US cannot win the war against ISIS without diplomacy and humanitarian aid, top US commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. “I don’t believe you can” win without soft power, US Africa Command boss USMC Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said. “That’s what by, with, and through is all about,” he added, referring to the US military strategy of providing aid and assistance while allowing local forces to do the majority of front line fighting against ISIS. “We have to have local partners,” said US Central Command chief Army Gen. Joseph Votel. He admitted that the recent US approach “does present challenges” because it has led to “significantly fewer US forces on the ground than in recent years.” But he said the strategy was worthwhile because it built a reservoir of trust with partner nations. “We cannot surge trust in times of crisis,” Votel said. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) took their statements as a message for the White House, which is reportedly planning to propose cuts in funding for the State Department and US foreign aid. “Any budget we pass that guts the State Department’s budget, you will never win this war,” he said. “As a matter of fact, ISIS will be celebrating.”