30 November 2007

The Right Stuff

The Dutch government extends Afghanistan commitment until 2010.

-- THE HAGUE -- The Netherlands is extending its military mission in the Afghan province of Uruzgan to August 2010. After that, the mission will be wound down, with the last man to leave by 1 December 2010.
Much like Steffi and Taliban Jack, the Dutch opposition has decided to have it's own little tea party.
The Socialist Party (SP), leftwing Greens (GroenLinks) and centre-left (D66) will likely be the only parties to vote against an extension. They are holding separate hearings on 6 December with opponents of the military presence in Afghanistan.

Christian democratic (CDA) MP Karien van Gennip termed the alternative hearings "unfortunate." Conservative (VVD) MP Hans van Baalen found them "childish."


Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well, because I'm not totally about confrontation :-) I thought I should chime in here to say that I too am glad for this. I do wonder what it means (generally, and for Canada particularly) that while extending the mission, this decision also seems to END their mission, just a year after our mission is currently set to end. The short-term effect of this decision seems GOOD for the mission, but will the focus be on "The Dutch are staying until 2010" or "The Dutch are leaving in 2010".

I'm also still anxious (though, beyond pessimistic) to hear from our OTHER NATO allies (Bueller... Bueller...) (The U.S. and U.K. aside, of course). Though not a NATO ally, I wonder if Australia's new PM might consider an increased commitment to Afghanistan, which I think would have a MUCH greater effect on the Canadian decision than this Dutch move, based on the last sentence above (and with all due respect to the Dutch). There have been hints that the Aussie withdrawal from Iraq could lead to an increased presence in Afghanistan ('cause they believe in the mission, but in addition, frankly, for more crass political reasons of lessening the impact of the Iraq decision on relations with Washington).

I think opposition in Canada to an extension to our current mission is wide, but extremely shallow. VERY few Canadians want us totally out of Afghanistan, imho; many want our troops out of (such intense) combat; but many of those people could be convinced that we should keep even a "sharp" role if there was an increased sense that our allies weren't all talk and not enough action.

An Australian PM and government (particularly of the sort that just defeated PM Howard and stared a pull-out from Iraq) announcing a significant contribution to Afghanistan (particularly if it were significant in terms of COMBAT) would really get Canadians' attention I think. Maybe even enough to revive the possibility of our mission being extended (which is grim right now I think, no matter how shallow I believe the opposition to be).

I'm glad (and not at all surprised) that the Dutch are going to extend their mission, but I think the big question is "What's Australia gonna do?" (Sadly, I've all but given up on most of NATO). Australia could have a significant impact, so it'll be interesting to see what's next.

Neo Conservative said...

"lko says... I'm not totally about confrontation :-)"

c'mon... everybody's gotta vent a little, huh? (inside joke, folks)

the dutch decision is about the greater good... and forgive me for being corny, "doing the right thing".

as for canada... we'll see what happens... 2 years is a geopolitical eternity.