On 4 October, Lord Dannatt, who was introduced as a former ‘Chief of The General Staff and Head of the Army for several years and knows the Middle East well’, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4.
‘We are all united in the fact that the so called Islamic State, and these ISIL fighters, are an abomination and they have got to be confronted and they have got to be faced down….
This has to be looked at at several levels. Yes, of course there is a military level…..
One is very much on the coalition building. But there are other levels at which we have got to go at this.
Another is the diplomatic and political framework, particularly to get that changed in Iraq and steps are quite helpful there.
But I think the other thing is the mindset. This is – at its worst, its best, its deepest – a battle for minds here.
And although Islamic State and ISIL have got to be destroyed, they also have to be discredited. It’s got to be unattractive to young people in this country to want to go and join this movement…
We’ve got to win that battle for the hearts and minds of decent Muslim people around the world.’
The presenter asked:
‘But Governments can’t win that battle can they?‘
To which we all know the answer is ‘no’. But what politicians – and the military for that matter – can do is engage with people who are experts in changing hearts and minds.
And, it so happens, this is something at which, in London, we are recognised being the best in the world.
Yes, these experts are called creative advertising agencies.
And yes, I accept what you may think, that much of the job of creative advertising agencies is to persuade people to change their hearts and minds about such items as margarine, confectionary, soft drinks and hamburgers by which human beings are killed in far more subtle ways than having their heads chopped off.
But, as I tried to show in my recent post about Scotland, major multinational companies spend billions of pounds a year in the business of making products people want to buy and shifting them from their factories into people’s houses. In many ways, it is what makes the world go round.
Please don’t think they do this for nothing or that they are stupid or don’t know what they are doing. Far, far more people who left university this summer wanted to join the advertising and communications business than the army.
All these people are very smart and very creative.
Which is just what this problem needs.
And please don’t tell me politicians don’t know this. When they need professionals to help change the hearts and minds of people in pursuance of their own interests and their own careers, political parties turn to advertising agencies, as the army might have it, like a shot.
So when Lord Dannatt says ‘we’ve got to win that battle for the hearts and minds of decent Muslim people around the world’, there’s only one answer.
It’s on the doorstep mate.