- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2017

A professor at the University of Michigan says Ariana Grande can teach Secretary of Defense James Mattis about counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State.

Juan Cole of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan published an op-ed this week in which he compares the anti-terrorism philosophies of Mr. Mattis, the former head of U.S. Central Command with over 40 years of military experience, to the singer behind the “Dangerous Woman” album. Ms. Grande’s message of “inclusiveness” following the Manchester, England, terror attack after one of her concerts won out over Mr. Mattis’ “kill them all” approach.

“The strategy of annihilation is sort of like fighting forest fires with gasoline hoses,” the professor wrote for The Nation in a piece titled “Ariana Grande Understands Counterterrorism Better Than Jim Mattis.”

“In [a recent] interview, Mattis showed no interest in how ISIL arose in the first place, or how it attracted or gained the tacit cooperation of several million Syrians and Iraqis,” Mr. Cole wrote of the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. “He seems to think that a few slick tweets or videos in cyberspace are the problem. The fact is that all the ISIL fighters in Iraq and Syria have siblings and cousins, and simply annihilating them creates a whole slew of new feuds with the United States.”

The professor claimed that Iraq’s current instability can be be traced back to “George W. Bush’s war on Iraq,” the battle for Falluja in 2004 that Mr. Mattis helped engineer as a Marine, and its effects on the Iraqi political process.

“Meanwhile, pop singer Ariana Grande, 23, whose concert was attacked by a British ISIL operative in Manchester, announced that she would return to Manchester for a benefit concert for the victims,” Mr. Cole wrote. “The second-most-followed person on Instagram stressed that her concert was about inclusiveness and that would not change. … Her sentiments, the essence of counterinsurgency when it comes to ISIL’s polarizing plot, were shared by Manchester Muslims, who marched in solidarity with the victims.”

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The professor concluded that Pentagon officials would be wise to follow the singer’s Twitter feed because “she nailed it.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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