One would think a man with four stars on his collar leading U.S. forces in Afghanistan just one year ago would have no problem working with military leadership in the fight against militants of the so-called Islamic State at present.
Business Insider But for retired Marine Gen. John Allen, who was appointed by President Obama in September as special envoy to lead the global coalition to counter the militant group, that calculus has been wrong.
CNS News According to Allen, to defeat ISIS:
The solution is to “celebrate” Islam and show our “profound respect” for it.
“As we seek to expose ISIS’ true nature,” Allen told the gathering on Monday, “we must also tell a positive story, one that highlights our respect – our profound respect for Islam’s proud traditions, its rich history, and celebration of scholarship and family and community.” “We must work with clerics and scholars and teachers and parents to tell the story of how we celebrate Islam, even as we show that ISIS perverts it.”
Allen said that ISIS propaganda serves both to attract recruits and “perverts the innocent.”
“It is only when we contest ISIS presence online and deny the legitimacy of its message – the message that it sends to vulnerable young people – and as we expose ISIS for the un-Islamic, criminal cult of violence that it really is, it is only then that ISIS will be truly defeated.”
Washington Examiner And if that isn’t bad enough, wait’ll you hear what the NATO Commander had to say:
“The best way to beat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s success at recruiting Westerners is for moderate Muslims to step up and counter the message,” the commander of NATO forces in Europe said Monday.
U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said the extremist group’s ability to recruit foreign fighters to come to Syria and Iraq is a “real problem” for the alliance. And it is compounded by concerns about “lone wolf” terror attacks by fighters returning from the Middle East and others inspired by the group’s ideology.
“It’s hard to address recruiting until we address those hearts and minds,” Breedlove told reporters at the Pentagon. “We need to hear the voices of moderate Muslims in the mosques.”
Business Insider So it’s really no surprise that many of the Military’s top leaders can’t stand the Generals leading the Anti-ISIS Coalition:
An article posted at Foreign Policy on Thursday by Mark Perry lists a surprising number of detractors to Allen’s appointment, including many in and out of uniform. The most obvious rift comes from Gen. Lloyd Austin, the man in charge of Central Command, tasked with carrying out the military plan to “degrade and destroy” ISIL, the administration’s preferred acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“Why the hell do we need a special envoy — isn’t that what [Secretary of State] John Kerry’s for?” a senior officer close to Austin told Perry, of the potential for confusion since Gen. Allen reports directly to President Obama.
Indeed, Gen. James Mattis — the commander before Austin at Centcom — demonstrated a perfect example of the military’s ability to build coalitions without outside support, in retelling how he got 29 nations together to counter Iran’s attempt to mine the Strait of Hormuz.
“The military overseas can do more than simply reinforce foreign policy,” Mattis said earlier this year. “We can also buy time for the diplomats to do their magic.”
Even Gen. Anthony Zinni — himself a former Centcom commander who later served as special envoy to Israel for peace talks in 2002 — was critical of Allen’s appointment (via The Tampa Tribune):
“John Allen is a great guy, but does it take a retired general to coordinate a coalition? What is Centcom, chopped liver? Did Norman Schwarzkopf get some retired general? Who is really leading here, that is my question.”
And there are many more gripes noted by military officers who spoke on condition of anonymity to Foreign Policy. One derides Allen as “a boy scout.” Another, noting his new role as a quasi-diplomat though he’s never been one, said “I don’t know how that’s going to work.”
For many of the military’s top leaders it seems, having a retired general like Allen outside of the military chain-of-command reporting to Obama is a sign of White House “micromanagement.” It also offers the possibility of conflicting messages between State and the Pentagon in the fight against ISIS.