U2 frontman Bono brought his star power to Capitol Hill on Tuesday as he called on members of Congress to take swift action to deal with the global refugee crisis and violent extremism.
As he testified to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, he offered one novel suggestion for countering extremism.
'Don't laugh,' Bono said, suggesting the Senate 'send in' comedians Amy Schumer, Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen to counteract the militants' violent message.
'If you laugh at them when they're goose-stepping down the street, then it takes away their power,' he said.
Bono - who visited Kenya, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt as part of a US congressional delegation led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham - urged U.S. lawmakers to act quickly to counteract 'an existential crisis' in Europe, with nationalist parties rising in several countries and even Britain considering leaving the European Union.
He warned that refugee crises like the one triggered by fighting in Syria typically last for 25 years.
And he said that without a coordinated global response, the Middle East, Africa and now increasingly Europe would face the type of chaos that allows extremist groups to find willing recruits among desperate young people.
The human torrent threatens the very idea of European unity, he said, as he urged lawmakers to think of foreign aid as national security instead of charity.
'When aid is structured properly, with a focus on fighting poverty and improving governance, it could just be the best bulwark we have against the extremism of our age,' the rock star and anti-poverty campaigner testified.
Africa, in particular, is grappling with what Bono called a phenomenon of three extremes — ideology, poverty and climate.
'Those three extremes make one unholy trinity of an enemy and our foreign policy needs to face in that direction,' he said. 'It's even bigger than you think.'
Bono said he understood the financial stress the U.S. and other nations are under as they debate how much foreign aid to allot. But he warned the bills will only get bigger without action.
'If you don't do it now, it's going to cost a lot more later,' he said. 'I do know that.'
The hearing took place as lawmakers put the final touches on a new spending plan that may include steep international aid cuts.
But Graham, the panel's chairman, has called for a multibillion-dollar aid program to address the crisis in the Middle East and deal with millions of refugees fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and other countries.
Backers of the plan say defeating Islamic State and other militant groups, and preventing the rise of new ones, will require humanitarian aid and economic development.
'I'm a pretty hawkish fellow, but I learned a long time ago... that you are not going to win this war by killing terrorists,' Graham said.
'We have a moment now that we haven't had in decades' in terms of political attention to the issue, said Kelly Clements, deputy high commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Graham will have a difficult time getting support for a Middle East aid program from his fellow Republicans, who tend to be skeptical about international organizations like the United Nations and generally want tight controls on government spending.
At the hearing, Republican senators expressed concern about being effective for the American taxpayer and roles for partnerships with private companies.
Bono, who co-founded the international advocacy group ONE, has lobbied in world capitals for causes including debt relief, alleviating poverty and fighting AIDS.