General Allen’s Revealing Article on Iraq

Is this the leader of a scourge and an abomination and a witch's brew?

Is this the leader of a “scourge” and an “abomination” and a “witch’s brew”?

W.J. Astore

General John Allen wants to “destroy the Islamic State now.”  So he says in an article for Defense One.  Allen, a retired Marine Corps general who led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, is currently a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution.  But what is distinguishing him in this article is his crusader-speak, a remarkable blend of religious extremism and chauvinistic parochialism.

Let’s tackle the latter first.  For Allen, the good people of Iraq are “poor” and “benighted.”  But some of them can serve as our “boots on the ground” in the region, i.e. they can serve as bullet magnets while the U.S. provides air support with impunity.  It’s up to the U.S. to “orchestrate” their attacks against the Islamic State.  As long as they follow our conductor’s baton, all will end well, perhaps with a crescendo of U.S. bombs.  (As an aside, he describes the Taliban in Afghanistan as “cavemen” when compared to the new enemy in Iraq.  Some of those “cavemen” did fairly well against the former Soviet Union, did they not?)

My charge that the general’s language is that of “religious extremism” may itself appear extreme, but take a close look at his article.  The general refers to the Islamic State as a “scourge” and an “abomination.”  (I’ve read my Bible and recognize the religious resonances here.)  They are “beyond the pale of humanity” and must be “eradicated” because they are engaged in “total war” aided by a “witch’s brew” of foreign recruits.

In sum, General Allen has demonized the enemy while at the same time diminishing potential allies (those “poor benighted” people in need of an American conductor).  The answer is eradication, i.e. extermination of that enemy. Now!

Remind me again: Which side is engaged in religious war here?

As Richard Nixon used to say, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I’m not in any way defending the murderous extremism of the Islamic State.  What I’m saying is that the best solution is not to return the favor (unless you’re truly seeking a crusade).  I’m also suggesting that the general’s article is (unintentionally) indicative of a mindset that explains much about why American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed.

17 thoughts on “General Allen’s Revealing Article on Iraq

  1. Based on Allen’s remarks there should be no good reason he should not be immediately removed along with his other cronies who hold similar beliefs. Allen has committed the cardinal sin of a professional soldier by underestimating his enemy.

    Making pronouncements about such opponents as a “scourge” is immaterial to the qualities of fighting that the ISIS has demonstrated in recent months and that should be the only thing that should be of concern to this general.

    In diminishing the capabilities of potential Iraqi allied soldiers as nothing more than “bullet magnets”, Allen also demonstrates a complete disregard for those he would expect to enlist in his fights against ISIS.

    Both positions, if the general view of those commanders in the field, will doom any US engagement with ISIS to nothing more than another drawn out quagmire of guerrilla conflict fought with all the wrong tools and perceptions on the American side of the equation.

    In short; what a blithering idiot…

  2. “I’m also suggesting that the general’s article is (unintentionally) indicative of a mindset that explains much about why American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed.”
    A thoughtful leader would use this collapse of American “success” in the Middle East as a time for reflexion on the catastrophic failure of our military adventurism in the area and in the Moslem countries. A smart leader might also throw in some speculation on the wisdom of our alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
    Bush and Obama’s interventions for regime change has brought this impending debacle about. The pot is broken and it will not be put together again with outside intervention. We broke the pot and rather than rush back in with more glue we should use this sad debacle as the time to reconsider why we broke the pot, who personally is responsible, and how we must change our policies to avid breaking more pots.

  3. My mistake… Allen, as mentioned in the post is already retired. However, many currently in command positions in both the US Army and Air Force have similar viewpoints as recent documentation has shown concerning the religious extremism that has begun the infest the US military senior echelons.

    War, as destructive and chaotic as it may be, is still an art and a science to be carefully understood by those who engage in it to as much as possible keep casualties at a minimum while maneuvering to defeat the enemy with the minimal amount of bloodshed…

  4. HOT OFF THE PRESS! To: Gen. Allen ….General, Our firm friend Saudi Arabia and its back ward king also merits the terms ” a” Scourge and abomination” . Please let us know if you also wish to put our boots on the ground there. Saudi Arabia beheaded 19 in just the first half of August. How many heads will roll before the end of the year. It could be there is a bit of competition between iSIS and the Saudies in rolling up totals. Going after the Saudis might be wiser since they are very possibly one of the funders of ISIS.
    Read the article in the Independent of London.

  5. Nothing distinguishes this ticket-punching jarhead general. He sounds exactly like those those other religious fanatics whose thinking he has assimilated, seeks to emulate, and now regurgitates without the slightest sign of self-awareness or appreciation of irony. As Blaise Pascal put it quite some time ago: “No one ever does evil quite so cheerfully or completely as when he does it from religious conviction.”

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