Saturday, February 23, 2008

Don't disrupt my willful ignorance!!!

Some attitudes, like those form your average NPR listener, are universal.

Radio Netherlands; Hans de Vreij - BEHOLD!
Has Dutch public broadcaster NOS allowed itself to be used as a tool of the 'communications policy' of the country's defence ministry, or was the video material provided by the ministry simply too interesting for the broadcasting organisation to ignore?

Whatever the answer may be, the fact is that public broadcasting's prime-time 8 o'clock news on Wednesday evening was to a large extent filled with footage of Dutch and Afghan troops engaged in real combat with what appear to have been Taliban fighters in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan. A further - and not insignificant - detail regarding this material: it was actually shot in August of this year.

Surprise and consternation were prominent among the reactions to the video footage of a prolonged battle, which took place close to the Afghan village of Chora in Uruzgan province. But the reasons for the surprise and consternation were extremely varied. Never before have such detailed images been shown of real fighting involving Dutch forces in Afghanistan.

It's no secret that such fighting does indeed take place in that country, for the Dutch defence ministry's website publishes a weekly summary of the troops' activities. When fighting or attacks have taken place, that is all duly listed. Such incidents are in most cases also reported at an earlier stage by means of individual press releases.
He is trying so hard to blame one of the world's most open governments for his own ignorance by bringing the truth to their taxpayers. The video he is talking about is here. (BTW, about 2/3 of the way through, you will see the joy that an A-10 can bring to the infantry - and it sounds great in the sub-woofer).

Hans, read; either that or watch 09:11 Zulu.

UPDATE: Hans weighs in via the comments and fleshed out his argument and purpose for the article. Worth the read in that it will help you gain some appreciation from the Dutch point of view - but read it a few times - as from an American perspective it can be difficult to get your head around.

Where as we live in a Pentagon Channel and Bloggers Roundtable environment with the likes of Totten, Yon, and Sanchez a regular part of the Long War diet - the Dutch just don't have it. In spite of the fact that the Dutch military, both on the ground and in the air, are fighting just as much as the US, Canadian, UK, Danish, Estonian colleagues in the South of Afghanistan, the Dutch ruling elite do not encourage the well rounded knowledge base that Americans would consider the norm.

So, perhaps in reflection "willful ignorance" in the title is best not read as pointed at Hans - as in much of his body of work (for example this article from APR of '07, he is trying to do his part). A better title might be, "Yikes!!! Don't show the truth, I am still trying to keep the Dutch people as ignorant as possible!!!" directed at the Dutch ruling elite.

Then again, if the Dutch people demanded more information about what their soldiers and airmen are doing (...and they have much to be proud of...), then maybe this NOS video would not have the shock that it had.

Thank you Mr. de Vreij for showing up and filling in the gaps. I tilt my Stroopwafle at you - and if you have an article you have written in the last six months or so that might flesh out the Dutch perspective in planning to leave Afghanistan in '10, I would enjoy the chance to share it with my readers. Dank u!

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