February 22nd, 2010
05:39 PM ET

Around the Web: Analyzing the Dutch decision

The Netherlands' coalition government collapsed this past weekend over disagreement about its role in Afghanistan. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's office said in a statement that the Labor Party had withdrawn from the government following days of talks over whether the troops should be brought home.

Robert Marquand of the Christian Science Monitor writes that the development “threatens to undermine the NATO mission in the central Asian nation.”

“The Dutch collapse brings concern of a domino effect: Can European leaders, who have been out in front of their publics on Afghanistan, continue anteing up – or will this withdrawal further sap a flagging political will across Europe for the mission?” Marquand writes.

Leo Cendrowicz of Time magazine writes:

“The Dutch represent just 2.3% of the 86,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, but they have the eighth largest national contingent in the country, and one of the highest contributions as a proportion of both population and of their overall national army.

While Uruzgan province does not face a security threat as severe as that in Helmand and Kandahar, it is still volatile: 21 Dutch soldiers have been killed since the mission was first deployed in 2006.”

Gavin Hewitt of the BBC says the decision will be “judged in parts of Afghanistan and in Washington.”

“NATO identified 2010 as the year to make a difference, to turn the corner, Hewitt writes. “So it is at this moment that the Labour party in the Netherlands decides to send its message. That is how some will see it in Washington. Rightly or wrongly. That just when the Taliban is feeling the heat, they hear that some nations are tiring of the conflict.”

Some other news reports and perspectives:

- David Zucchino (Los Angeles Times): “Drone pilots have a front-row seat on war, from half a world away

- C.J. Chivers (New York Times): “Marines do heavy lifting as Afghan army lags in battle

- Andrew Higgins (Washington Post): “Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan

- Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Washington Post): “In Marja, it's war the old-fashioned way

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. DutchChrissie

    @ A.Smith: I actually didn't want to reply, but Danish is a from Denmark, as in an entire different country than the Netherlands.

    @ septimus: I understand you feel it as a betrayal, but if you think about it. The Netherlands is a very SMALL country, we always give a lot more money (and troops) to the NATO, EU etc, while the economical situation in our own country gets worse. I think you should only help when your own country is stable, besides we did help, a lot as a matter of fact. We stayed for 4 years instead of the promised 2 years. I don't think you should be that harsh and look at the entire situation. Compare: the States (307,212,123 people and 3,794,101 sq mi) and the Netherlands (16,595,700 people and 16,033 sq mi), see the difference, our country is a lot more smaller than the States, but in stead we help in comparison of our nation's population, we help as we were a big country.

    My dad is an American(born and raised and served in the US Airforce) but even he understands that the Netherlands has contributed enough already, because if we continue helping everyone except our own, in the end we will become a third world country. Okay that's maybe an exaggeration, but you get my point.

    @ se: thanks for those words. I have 2 military friends and I will let them read your comment. I'm sure they will like it.

    March 11, 2010 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. se

    What is very unfortunate and under-recognized is what a blessing the Dutch have been for the Americans in Uruzgan. Their forward surgical base is better supplied than ours, and is a constant resource in times of crisis. It is sad that our country has not made more of an effort to publicly thank the Dutch for their cooperation & support, or to court the Dutch into staying by showing appreciation for their efforts and their losses. On my part, I would like to thank the members of the Dutch Armed Forces for their service.

    February 28, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. A. Smith, Oregon

    Perhaps the pundits have entirely forgotten that Muslim country's have declared Jihad against a Danish newspaper and its cartoonists over them drawing a series of illustrations of the Muslim founder, Muhammad. Heavy security guards have been posted at that paper and at the homes of the Dutch illustrators. Perhaps the Danish Govt. and people came to realize it just wasn't making their country nor the world safer if they continued fighting a war against the people in Afghanistan known as the Taliban.

    Meanwhile the Kyrgyzstan's president said Tuesday that his country is ending the U.S. use of an air base that has been key to military operations in Afghanistan, Yep, Kyrgyzstan kicked the US out of its country even thou the CIA and US State Dept. had given them Hundreds of Millions of US Taxpayer dollars in bribes and payments to use that former USSR airbase.

    The US Airforce was entirely relying on the Airbase in Kyrgyzstan for its KC-130 refueling tanker fleet to continuously refuel fighter jets flying over Afghanistan. Fighter jets very quickly run out of fuel and have a relatively short range if they are not refueled, thus this latest GET OUT AMERICA is a large blow to the fable of 'winning the hearts and minds' ginned up in some Pentagon backroom.

    What to do with the Billions of extra taxpayer dollars that America now has since Kyrgyzstan told the American military to get out of its airbase? Use that money to pay for the unemployment extension in America that is helping to provide rent and food to millions of unemployed Americans during one of the greatest recessions in American history.

    February 27, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. septimus severius

    the cowards they leave us in the mid of the sh,,,t and go,,,,,that s what you can call friend.......let s boycot the dutch,,,,,,,,

    February 26, 2010 at 3:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    Bob Decker I guess you have forgotten what happened on 9/11. If we leave Afghanistan and let the Taliban return they would plan and carry out more attacks against the U.S. and other western nations. We should never again allow a nation to train terrorists and plan attacks against the western world. Maybe you should move to Iran or Venezuelia or some other dictatorship.

    February 24, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bob Decker

    As an American by birth and not choice I would encourage all nations involved in the fake war on terror to follow the Dutch and leave the USA alone. How can you fight a war on terror when the United States and Israel are the axis of evil and have been terrorizing the world since WWII ended. When you overthrow governments to put some dictator or stooge in that is terrorism by a Nation. WE ARE THE BEST AT THIS AND DESERVE WHATEVER WE GET.

    February 23, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Erik

    I am ex member of the armed service and was in afghanistan 2006 under Operation Enduring Freedom. Actually were involved in afghanistan straight after 9/11. Most were coverrt operations and we also flew out of manas with F16.
    From an military stand off point of view this mission is very taxing on us as wel as materials.In Nata there are only 3 nations that are picking out the hot coals ,Canada ,Uk and The Netherlands.The rest of nato is sitting in relative safe area of Afghanistan.The point is it hurts us to see us leave the place were we fought,build and lost many with out dignity,honour cause in our eyes the fall of the gov was all about elections.All options were open by the opposition. But Nato ,US allways knew our stanoff wether miliatary or polical.
    What i am worried about is by us withdrawing as lead nation in the province that might be the force that other nations might step out isaf and the domino effect it wil have on the stabilty of Afghanistan.

    February 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    I think that every freedom loving country should help out in the fight for Afghanistan's newly democratic country. If we have most of the world stand up to these evil people who's laws are against the teachings of Jesus we would demoralize their fighters that would think twice about how they treat their people!

    February 23, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ret. Captain A. Bleijenberg D.S.F.

    As you can read in the previous 3 comments there where all ready agreements made that the Dutch Armed Forces where/are leaving in August 2010. Of course a lot of Dutch Armed Forces like to stay but the main reasons for this decisssion is that there is no support at the home front, big budget cuts at the Defence Ministry, bad financial climate in Europe and not much backup off the NATO.
    I'm sure that I'm not alone in saying that there are no clear plans made what to do in Helmand provence when it is cleared of the Taliban also when you see the reports on TV one moment the Afghane people are on your side and the next minute they are back with the Taliban. When you read about the Afghane history is quite clear to say that Afghanistan has always been a place of fighting.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sandra

    What is not written in this post is that the dutch stated very clearly in 2007, that they will stay untill august 2010 en then it's over.
    The netherlands is een democratic country. The people are tired of the fact that the Netherlands always wants to be the brave ones. As such a small country, they give more than other small country's in Afghanistan, as you can also read in the article.
    The Netherlands give more money, men en where there from the beginning. The dutch people say; let another country take his part now. And I think that is correct!
    The NAVO knew that this was coming, so they had to be prepared to take over the dutch job.
    .

    February 23, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. ac

    The Dutch government joined this war in 2006 and pledged to her people to stay for only 2 years. But after 2 years enormous pressure was put on the Dutch, they yielded and promised to stay another 2 years but now with a condition: we will leave in 2010 !
    This was a decision taken by all parties concerned in the Government of the Netherlands.
    The Labour Party is only doing what was decided by the Government in 2008.
    Nato and all parties involved knew about this decision, they had enough time to seek for another solution. This came not as a surprise.

    February 23, 2010 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. Pinoy

    The main reason for these is not the willingness for the dutch to fight,but cost of war for than nine years.It will drain the nation's coffers.World and dutch economy is bad.

    February 22, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |