There is no indication that General Allen has any idea of what he is talking about. What “idea” does he propose to defeat? He probably means that he is going to destroy the idea that the Islamic State constitutes the new caliphate — which is no doubt one reason why the media establishment keeps churning out its endless stream of disingenuous and deceptive “ISIS is not Islamic” articles. But he is part of an Administration that has prohibited examination of the jihadis’ belief system; that is going to hamstring his efforts to combat it.
“Obama Envoy John Allen: No ‘Short-Term Solutions’ for Stopping Islamic State,” by Matthias Gebauer and Holger Stark, Spiegel, December 31, 2014:
In an interview, US General John Allen, Washington’s special envoy for countering the Islamic State, discusses why he believes the recent military campaign has reversed the terrorist group’s momentum but warns the battle to stop its ideology could take years.
General John Allen, 61, has served as special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State (IS) under US President Barack Obama since September. He previously served for three years as the deputy commander of the US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In an interview with SPIEGEL, Allen uses the Arabic term “Daesh” when referring to IS in order to prevent having to say the word “state”.
No, it’s to avoid having to say the word “Islamic.”
…SPIEGEL: President Obama has stated he wants to “ultimately destroy and dismantle” IS. Was it a mistake to set such a maximalist goal that is almost impossible to reach?
Allen: It’s important to have a clear understanding of what we ultimately seek. I don’t believe that the president intended to imply the “annihilation” of Daesh. That is far beyond our thinking in this regard. We want to deny Daesh the ability to have safe havens either in Iraq or, ultimately, in Syria, to preclude its capacity to organize an existential threat to those countries. Annihilation requires a great deal of investment, resources and time. The defeating, dismantling and degrading of Daesh, and ultimately destroying the idea, is the long-term objective. It’s important to understand that what we’re undertaking as a coalition is much bigger, much broader, than simply the military role. The military role is the most conspicuous right now and attracts the most attention. We have five lines of effort that in the end converge to degrade and defeat Daesh: providing military support to our partners; impeding the flow of foreign fighters; stopping IS’s financing and funding; addressing humanitarian crises in the region; and exposing IS’s true nature….
SPIEGEL: Another huge challenge is IS’s propaganda. It was a brilliant move to declare an “Islamic State”. How are you going to deal with this?
Allen: We need not only to expose Daesh for the darkness that it is, but also to celebrate the values within countries that help defeat the attractiveness of Daesh. You asked about “destroying” before: We can only destroy Daesh when we destroy the attractiveness of its brand. When you can defeat the idea, then you have destroyed the organization. We want to build capacity in countries in the region and the Coalition to reduce its attractiveness for recruiting…