Why we should definitely not “Think the unthinkable” by Steve Brown


DannattLord Dannatt is the former head of the army. Now retired, with both political and corporate aspersions, He has connections to multi million pound contracts for the MOD. In October 2012 Dannatt, along with several other retired senior officers was the subject of a sting operation by journalists. According to The Guardian, Dannatt offered to lobby Bernard Gray, chief of defence materiel. Dannatt was quoted as saying he had engineered a seat at a formal dinner with the Ministry of Defence’s new permanent secretary, Jon Thompson, to help another company, Capita Symonds, which was bidding for a contract to manage MoD estates. According to The Independent, Dannatt acknowledged that he had offered to assist in facilitating conversations, but stated that he had rejected an offer of an £8,000 per month fee to lobby on behalf of the organisation and that he had “no inclination” to contravene the rules on lobbying. He is also a military consultant to the shadow cabinet.

Recently he called on the government to “Think the unthinkable” and send ground troops into Iraq and Syria to fight the group calling itself ISIS.

As an Iraq veteran I feel I can offer a unique perspective on this situation. Only an idiot would argue against the statement that Islamic state is a consequence of the actions of the American lead coalition. That is to say if we had not fabricated intelligence to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 ISIS would not exist.

It took about a year of lies after 9/11 to whip the western public into a frenzy over Saddam Hussein enough for a clear majority to support the invasion of Iraq. This decision was made even more justifiable by false intelligence leading us to believe the WMD possessed by Iraq were a credible threat. Last year It took only a month of propaganda to bring public support for attacking ISIS up to the same level. In other words, in 2002-2003 the coalitions PR machine took a year to do something it only took a month to do recently. If you ask me the invasion of Iraq was always an inevitability. So much so that In his 2003 report in to Iraqi WMD Lt Col LAWRENCE S. REED, USAF stated that 9/11 “provided new opportunities for action.”

You can read his report here: http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA441647

To understand the situation fully, we need to look at the difference in the times. Before the invasion the western public (especially Americans) were still quivering with bloodlust over 9/11. Until Islamic State was created (more accurately, until the news chose to begin reporting about ISIS), which was only a few months ago, self proclaimed experts and scholars were writing about the allies war-weariness, warning them not to fall into the supposed trap of isolationism, But now all this is going out the window, the hunger and bloodlust for war has returned. The participation of western troops in this conflict will only serve one purpose, to widen it. The far right and the media manipulate the facts to suit the agenda of the government. The armed forces then find themselves in an impossible situation, for as so long as we “support the troops”, whichever administration is in charge of the country has a blank moral cheque for military action, up to and including war. Have we become so indoctrinated we can be manipulated like puppets to support any foreign-policy initiative our rulers devise?

The fact of the matter is, No matter how well trained or how elite, soldiers can’t fight a roadside bomb. All that will happen if we send troops tithe Middle East again is that after a brief period of conventional warfare, we will become an occupation force, push the terrorists underground and be forced to fight yet another insurgency. It has been proven that even with the seemingly unlimited military and financial resources of the coalition that this endeavour will prove unsuccessful. Take it from a veteran of multiple tours of Iraq, including the 2003 invasion. We didn’t win then and we won’t win now.


Steve Brown served with the British Army in Iraq, he is a member of Veterans For Peace UK




  1. Ant Heaford says:


    I sympathise with your view – despite all our combined efforts and actions i don’t feel one step closer to holding those responsible for the conflicts we are involved in to account. Whether that’s Blair or the military commanders who sent men to their deaths in pointless and immoral battles. The British Chain of Command can’t even remember who sent our soldiers to Northern Helmand province in the ‘Platoon House’ or ‘ink spot’ strategy of 2007, a strategy that ended in British soldiers been shipped out of Musa Qala in cattle trucks under a negotiated truce with the Taliban.

    I have read that it was Governor Daoud of Helmand who first suggested the deployment to North Helmand and ironically negotiated our retreat with the Taliban too… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musa_Qala#Truce_with_the_Taliban

    It is the career Generals, politician’s ‘Yes Men’ who i think we should target with charges of incompetence, because those retired Generals are now busy profiting from private security contracts (Colonel Tim Colins is a fine example) or are part of Government funded think tanks telling us all we need to ‘go to war’ with IS.

  2. Gus Hales says:

    Hi Allen,
    During the last 12 months , members have been involved in many things. I have personally been involved in the following things. On the panel at the Nottingham Peace Festival along with MPs and world peace activists. I gave the Brett Hill Memorial lecture to 300 delegates at the International Mental Health Pharmacy Conference. Talked at schools, lectured at Universities, drove 300 miles to march at the no NATO meeting. Stood outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre leafleting on a freezing winters day. Attended monthly and annual meetings in London. Elected to the VFP steering group. Written posts for the VFP web site. Attended the opening of a peace statue in Liverpool. Visited former servicemen in three prisons. Attended meetings in Derry with the relatives of Bloody Sunday, attended meetings in Belfast with former IRA men, victims of the troubles and the next generation of residents and I have been appointed military spokesperson for my local Green Party

    I am not trying to make this about me, but merely explaining that there are many things going on. Other members do a lot more than I do. Anything you can offer me or other members would be greatly appreciated. I for one am open to new ideas and any suggestions for our own as you put it, “tools for outreach to engage the public and build and maintain that engagement.” All suggestions are welcome Allen, let me for one know what you propose. If its legal then maybe I will give it a try.
    Peace + Best Wishes

    1. Hello Gus,
      Your achievements are quite humbling and at the same time very encouraging.
      But let us not engage our egos and develop a contest here, or unnecessary perceptions of reckless and misguided criticism afoot. The fact is, for all that, we are not effective. We need to be effective and for that we need new approaches, tools and strategies.

      I will look into arranging a venue and preparing a presentation of my ideas then see if I can interest Ben in getting VFP members to come along. Nothing illegal, aggressive, violent or immoral (as was the war in Iraq) 🙂 but I think quite innovative and if I can get people to appreciate the subtle but enormously powerful potential of what I propose then I believe I can greatly leverage the efforts of people like yourself.

      1. Gus Hales says:

        Hi Allen,
        Sounds great to me. I didn’t think you were being critical. Your initial post sounded more like frustration than criticism.
        Normally I wouldn’t post anything about what I or anyone else have been up to, but in this exchange and not being on facebook I thought it might be helpful.
        I personally think all ideas are valid and worth discussing and all voices should be heard. The alternative and I think you are pointing towards this, is just to become a personality organisation with just a few key players and that would be a tragedy.
        I look forward to your presentation. In fact I have a few ideas myself.


  3. This is a fine article by a credible source with experience ‘on the ground’ and a valuable contribution to the discussion. The problem is that pretty-much everything in it and around it – The falsehood of WMD (anyone could take a single look at Bush and know it was a lie), the bad decision to invade Iraq (motivated by OIL Greed, not F&D, the blind, ruthless greed of psychopathic war mongers and all of their hangers-on (such as Blair, Bush and Dannett – just to name some among the latter class, and not even to mention those among the ‘have mores’) that builds dynasties on the back of the WAR Racket – was already known and to some degree the rise of a monster such as ISIS from the ashes of Iraq anticipated by the 2 Million people who marched in opposition to the Invasion of Iraq.

    So why are we all writing articles and trying to ‘convince someone’ – convince who? – of the fact, truth and reality of all this? We’ve been doing this for 12 years and it was all done by the anti-war movements of all of the other wars these people have fomented and thrived on.

    There needs to be a lot more than a discussion about our opposition to war – particularly if a lot of it involves celebrating our ‘warrior’ image with pictures of ourselves in battle dress on the web. Seems to me there is a lot of time wasting and counter-productive self indulgence going on here – if I may say so without too much affront.

    1. Admin says:


      The profile page has pictures of us in uniform for a few reasons. To show that our members are genuine veterans from a wide variety of periods. To try and show how young soldiers are in general. To show that it is possible to transform from a soldier accepting war to a member of VFP opposing it.

      Apart from that we are carefully not to “celebrate our warrior image”. We don’t wear medals, berets or items of uniform (we did in the early days). We don’t use military language. There is no status in VFP for length of service, rank, unit or operational experience.

      But putting that all to one side, if you think that “there needs to be a lot more than a discussion about our opposition to war” why not turn up to a meeting and make a positive contribution. Its very easy to criticise from the sidelines.

      See you soon


      1. Hello Ben,
        It is quite mistaken to fit me up as someone who does nothing and criticises the efforts of others from the sidelines; attending VFP meetings chaired by Ben Griffin is not the only thing I ever did, or can do for the cause of a better world. It’s also a bit unfair coming from someone who had the opportunity to examine the possibilities of some online software that is the (still imperfect but innovative) result of over 20 years of thought and effort in this area – but didn’t bother to look.

        At least one person out there saw my comments and said (in an email) “I think you made some very fair points in your post” – but was not inclined to say so in the comments – perhaps a little apprehensive about the reaction? Notwithstanding the reasons for what VFP does, my comment was and still stands as a constructive pointer to cause for some introspection; if we can’t do that then we will continue to decline and be ineffective because newcomers will turn away having quickly perceived what we cannot see – even when one of our number points it out.

    2. Gus Hales says:

      Hi Allen,
      Interesting reply. In this world today with all its instant media pro war conditioning, there are very few voices on the whole who are heard in opposition. Having fought in the Falklands War and still horrified to this day by it. I feel an obligation to speak up against it, that is a duty I feel I have through that experience and my common humanity. The mainstream media are not interested.

      If I thought standing naked on the dome of St Pauls Cathedral would make people aware of the true cost and brutality of war, then that is what I would do. If I thought a twenty day hunger strike outside 10 Downing street would do it, then likewise that is what I would do. However, once again I repeat the mainstream media are not interested.
      VFP are one of the few organisations who have half a chance of being heard against a political and media tide of militarisation. In itself it is not the sole answer, how can it be? but it is a voice than can be from a place of knowing and experience. I am sorry if you feel that is self indulgent. But I will throw down this gauntlet, if you know of any another way of raising consciousness and gaining media attention or another way of revealing the true cost of war and the human misery that comes with it, then please reveal it to us all. Because I for one am very interested in your solutions.

      1. Hello Gus,
        Thank you for your comments. I’m sure you realise that I was not in any way condemning VFP or the motives of its leadership or members. But we are not perfect. We are a long way from perfect if we can’t tolerate constructive criticism (or even destructive criticism – which mine was not) and use it as a basis for introspection and reflection.

        You rightly say “The mainstream media are not interested” in the anti-war view. Naturally, they are owned by the same people who own, operate and massively profit from the ‘War Racket’. So why, after all the time that we have known this, are VFP and so many other ‘left/progressive’ organisations so stuck in the pattern of demonstrations, events and stunts intended to ‘get the attention of the public via the media’?

        We need our OWN tools for outreach and we need tools that will ENGAGE the public and BUILD and MAINTAIN that engagement.

        None of that is evident so far as I can see.

  4. Ant Heaford says:

    Very well said.

    End War / Conflict Profiteering first, everything else will fall in to place.

  5. Gus Hales says:

    This is the stuff we need to hear Steve, and keep hearing, and then hear more, then hear again. Before these maniacs commit this country to yet another pointless war, sold on the notion of democracy and freedom. It makes me sick.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s