Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Dutch run for the door confirmed ...

The fact that the Dutch were going home from AFG NLT 2011 - as they warned - has been a planning assumption at CDR Salamander.

What I didn't expect to be a major possibility was this.
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's coalition government collapsed on Saturday when the two largest parties failed to agree on whether to withdraw troops from Afghanistan this year as planned.
The fall of the government in the EU member country, just two days short of the coalition's third anniversary, all but guarantees that the 2,000 Dutch troops will be brought home this year and will eventually prompt new parliamentary elections.
... and who is waiting in the wings?
Right-wing legislator Geert Wilders's Freedom Party, which has called for an end to the Afghan mission, could be the big winner at the next election.
Opinion polls tip the Freedom Party, campaigning on mistrust of the government and an anti-immigration ticket, to become the largest or second biggest party in parliament.
Yes, a country the size of New Jersey with a population of 17 million is always good for some news.

This next line I don't agree with.
"A withdrawal will damage the reputation of the Dutch as a reliable partner that is willing and able to contribute to important military missions," said Edwin Bakker, a senior research fellow at the Clingendael Institute in The Hague.
No, only if you had an unrealistic expectation of the Europeans and a lack of understanding of what is going on.

Though I am not happy to see them leave - or the Canadians - I do not begrudge either nation. Here is why.

The Dutch and the Canadian troops are actually useful. They have operated caveat free in the toughest parts of the country - unlike the Germans, Italians, and Spaniards; for starters. We have listed those nations in the past, hit the archives if you need a review.

The Dutch volunteered in the hope that the rest of Europe would join them. In essense, they blew their whistle, climbed out of the trench with a hearty, "Follow me!" call - only to find themselves in the middle of no-man's land alone, their European allies still hunkered down.

No, the Dutch did their job. The Belgian and/or French battalions never showed up in Regional Command South. I appreciate the Dutch government trying to answer President Obama's call - but they have done the most their political system will let them. We should thank them, perhaps be a little upset that they are leaving the field - but don't begrudge them their weakness. They did their best.

Same with the Canadians. Successive leftist governments left them with a military that was almost unusable for anything but semi-permissive peace keeping. They were within a FY of getting rid of their tracked armor. Their per-capita losses have been huge for a nation with such a pacifist core - remember back to WWI & II they didn't even have enough of a native officer corps to fill out their ranks. Canada did the best she could as well given her political and national limitations. Like the Dutch - I am sad to see them go - but I do not begrudge their service. They fought well - and though are leaving the field, I know why and am impressed that they lasted this long. Kind of like expecting militia to only take one volley of musketry before fleeing and watching them stand for three before running. Not happy - but impressed and knowing I got more than expected.

Enough love though - here is the bad part. Nations have known this was going to happen for the last few years. As these two major players head through the door - the next question is who will follow.

AFG will take the rest of this decade to get right - a much harder nut to crack than IRQ. As our allies leave, and as long as budgets, global challenges, and lack of strategic patience don't upset the equation - Uncle Sam will be able to step into the breach.

Dank u en tot ziens.
UPDATE: Micheal Yon goes Salamander on NATO here, here, and here.
NATO has become a contrived vehicle used by freeloading nations to exert unearned influence. The NATO press machine is a transparent propaganda monster. To whit, this statement on the NATO website: "NATO looks forward to deepening cooperation with Pakistan:
The Pakistani Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, visited NATO and met with Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Minister Qureshi also addressed the North Atlantic Council."

Which NATO member actually has an iota of influence with Pakistan? The United States. NATO members freeload and forward their economic and political agendas at our cost. Secretary Gates, as well as Generals Petraeus, McChrystal and others, must spend substantial time simply trying to persuade members to contribute their share (which not a single member has done).
The staggering weight of NATO lies on its website: "Operation Moshtarak - Operation Moshtarak is an Afghan-led initiative to assert government authority in the centre of Helmand province. Afghan and ISAF partners are engaging in this counter- insurgency operation at the request of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Helmand provincial government." What "ISAF partners"? Those partners are nearly entirely British and American. The operation is in no way led by Afghans. NATO is a platform used by remora members to hitch rides on.
It is all that and less/more. The self-delusional nature of much of what NATO does is the worst kept secret for those who have been involved with it.

I will repeat again; all you really need to do is look at what they spend on defense as a % of GDP, but the Europeans and Canada are content to let the USA do most of the spending and dying in support of the West. We need to pull everyone back from Europe - all maneuver forces specifically - except for a few joint/combined logistics/training bases. You know the rest.


DeltaBravo said...

And when we are all that is left to hold and build...

what then?

We stand alone against an enemy that is not at OUR back door but theirs?  As mosques spring up in their own capitals and major cities, and the immigration situation there changes the demographics...

Will Europe despise us more if our solitary sentinels fail to save them from attacks plotted in the FATA zone and executed in their subways and airports?

Something is deeply wrong with this picture. 

ewok40k said...

DB, you have responded yourself. These attacks are planned in the FATA, not AFG. And even US doesnt invade FATA. Plus, any amount of soldiers up in the Hindukush won't stop lone wolves and local groups radicalized by net and/or local imams. Better to invest in good intelligence/police system. Given the record, surprisingly Europe does good given the amount of potential jihadists. Only big plots to have gone through were London and Madrid, with none in the France, Germany, and Italy. Poland is altogether out of the picture with nearly homogenous population of 90+ percent Poles and Catholics and none of the postcolonial immigration.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

The appeasing French Govenment, not the people, but the Gov't is on the side of the Moslems, alas.  The better to get re-elected.   Poor Germany, after what they caused in the first half of the 20th Century, are so guilt laden, and seems afraid of thier own abilties, and may very well be doomed.

Outlaw Mike said...

First off CDR, you seem quick to assume that Wilders' party is going to be the big winner. There are dark forces at work that will ensure, even if he can participate with that trial round his neck, that his party will be excluded from participating in a government. There's going to be a cordon sanitaire around him.

I do not know how closely you follow things but Dutch PM's Balkenende's party, the CDA, is still going to be the biggest party in case of elections, according to reliable polls.

In short, I think the chances that the Dutch will remain in AF are still 50/50.

All this leaves me, personally, in an awkward position.

I am faced with the curious conundrum that Wilders is DA MAN on the homefront, standing up for our basic western rights, freedoms and values. A man of immense courage and steadfast principles, living since six years surrounded by bodyguards.

UNFORTUNATELY, like Vlaams Belang in Belgium, he does not see the big picture, namely, that we should first do our very best to try to implement democracy in muslim countries in the possibly vain hope that islam can be rendered somewhere halfway human. For if that democracy thing does not work out, in time the only solution will be an all out war between the islamic world and the rest of the planet.

That leaves me

Outlaw Mike said...

There is something else I'd like to say, CDR. I do not mind you blasting euro countries for not doing their part, including mine. But I think you should point out that this is basically ENTIRELY the fault of the socialist parties. Euro countries are still democracies to some extent, and if leftists block deployments, well Sir, it's not that euro parties willing to send in troops can simply override democratic rules. Jesus Christ, actually you should give Balkenende at least the credit for ALLOWING to let his government crash because of Afghanistan!!! He could just as well have caved in to the demands from the socialists!

Other example CDR: it is true that Belgium has done far less than Holland, but the fact that we are there now with six fighter bombers in a COMBAT mission is entirely because we have a center right government now! In short, I'd like you a bit more to point your arrows to our Parti Socialiste, Socialistische Partij, Partij van de Arbeid, GroenLinks, Ecolo and what else these dhimmi traitors call themselves.

Belgium has 600 man in AF plus and it is not entirely without risk: if you check out our MoD's weekly overview here: , issued on Feb 12, you'll find out that in that week alone five rocket attacks had taken place on KAF, luckily without damage to our detachment (atlhough we have had wounded there from previous attacks). In the same report you read that a Belgian OMLT troop has been involved in a firefight with taleban, together with their German colleagues. And why is at least this involvement possible? Because we have a center-right government and because our Secdef, De Crem, is a hardliner, at least for Belgian norms.

Your ambassador here, Harold Gutman, just ten days ago asked Belgium for an additional pathetic 70-110 extra troops to assist in the north.... he was immediately rebuked by Laurette Onkelinckx, the powerful vice-PM of the PARTI SOCIALISTE (we have the weird situation in Belgium that our federal government has no Flemish socialists, but we are still stuck with a couple of Walloon socialists). You know what she gave as explanation for her rebuttal. 'Because we are already massively present there'.

ewok40k said...

Mike, dont worry about an apocalyptic all-out war of the worlds. Luckily, most of the Muslim people of the world are too busy living normal lives, having jobs, families, etc., and in many cases in very loose application of the religion to their lives. In fact AQ et consortes hope that  western overaggressive reaction to their terror will help them mobilise masses - at which they are failing.
And about French: they have just outlawed the burkas for women in public. They have a long history for strict state-religion separation and actually are doing in some areas better than Brits allowing for sharia infiltration into the common law.

Outlaw Mike said...

ewok, with all due respect, what with you being a Pole and a compatriot of my wife and all, but please, don't give me that bullcrap about peaceloving and law abiding muslims. There are no moderate muslims, there are only muslims with different time schemes for their caliphate. You live in a country of 39 million catholics and 25,000 muslims. You'd speak otherwise if you'd live in a country with 6% muslims.

That burqa ban is a smokescreen, a pose. Sarkozey has been a tremendous disappointment. As we speak, he's proceeding fast forward with that Euromed Union Project of his, even as France is going down in flames. 220,000 plus cars torched since 05, does that tell you something?

Sorry for the coarse language, but I spit, shit, vomit and piss on anything islamic. Best thing we can hope to do is try to get their countries halfway normal and on the path to some semblance of prosperity so that their 18-40 males will find it less attractive to self-detonate. In the meantime shield off our countries. You urgently need a reality dose, young man.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

I, for one, sincerely and respectfully extend my condolences to the families of the Dutch soldiers who gave their lives in Afghanistan. Thank you for their assistance, their courage and their sacrifice.

Good luck to the rest of the Netherlands.  They will need it in the next century.  This isn't over, and their government has demonstrated very little understanding of the potential consequences of their choices in the short or long term.

cdrsalamander said...

I think I gave the Dutch plenty of credit and pointed to the political challenges they face.  The one exception was the Labour Party in the UK - but that is the UK and not the continent.  

The fact remains that there simply isn't any blood left in the EuroTurnip for this fight.  Heck - we are having trouble here as well.

ewok40k said...

Good CDR seems to fail to ralize that US withdrawal from Europe is giving blank cheque for Russia to bully neighbors? NATO was always in the US best interest because it protected peace in Europe, and more importantly prevented from it becoming unified under one hegemon. US once already withdrew from Europe, in 1919. We can feel the aftershocks to this day.

MR T's Haircut said...

The Dutch have allowed islam to influence many decisions.  A laissez faire arrangment with the muslims in a non-muslim country that is showing the fruits of islam influence in a western govt.   UK and France are soon to folllow.

cdrsalamander said...

There is a difference between leaving NATO and leaving Europe.

If Russia is a danger to Europe - then let the Europeans (who BTW only have one front to worry about) spend as much on defense as a % of GDP as we do - and we will back you play if needed, as per Article 5.  However, if you only spend 1/3 as much as the USA yet expect us to do your work for you - then no thank you.

We cannot love your freedom more than you do.  The EU has a greater population than the USA.  In the 21st Century NATO we are here to help you, not do your job for you.

DeltaBravo said...

Well, they're planned in the FATA because we ran them out of AFG.  If we left AFG, would they trickle back in and start up there again? 

AW1 Tim said...

  I am willing to trade Dutch participation in Afghanistan for a Wilder's-led government. 

  I would like to see the US quit NATO, and pull almost everything out of Europe. If we leave anything there, then we ought to be charging Europe for our services.

   For 70 years, the US has born the burden of freeing Europe from tyranny, and maintaining that pseudo-democracy which Europe has imposed upon it's subjects. European nations have raised their standard of living, their GDP and generally fared very well, because the hard work of defense was maintained through American blood, sweat, tears, and treasure.

   No more. The money well has run dry, and it's time for Europe to pay their own way, and to deal with the rising immigration problem that they've allowed to fester.

Skippy-san said...

I will repeat it again-the Europeans have already seen this little drama over and over again in their own histories. It did not allow them to keep their colonial empires and it did not benefit them in the long run.  Today's European has had their fill of "the white man's burden". It would appear its the Europeans who have this right-there is nothing in this for them.

The US remains mired in Afghanistan-not because its in the long term US interest-but because poltitically the US cannot yet bring itself to do what the Dutch are doing. But make no mistake, we are kidding ourselves that if we stay in Afghanistan for years and years , the Afghans are going to create something than the same messed up country they have always had. They are not giving up Islam are they? Until they do-there will be no omprovement there.

Michael Yon ( yet again) has it wrong. It was not that NATO nations are "freeloading", it is that some of them allowed themselves to be badgered into an undertaking they had no national interest in undertaking.

Even if we left NATO tomorrow-it would be the United States that would be the worse off-we need the Europeans more than they need us.

Bubba Bob said...

Western society has been following the Dutch since 1650; if only our right-wing-wanna-be President would realize it is past time to end this unwinnable asian land war. and pull us out. As for Islam; do you think our killing them is why they love us so? 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

"<span>-we need the Europeans more than they need us."</span>

Mr. Putin would like to convince them of precisely that.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Phib, between you and ewok, you have addressed perhaps one of the three great foreign policy dilemmas of the new century. 

Sentiment as well as practicality would point to demanding Europe shifts for itself, though using "Europe" to describe a polyglot set of social, political, military and religious traditions has its dangers.  Ironically, it is the newly-independent eastern nations in Europe who are friendliest to the United States, largely, IMHO, because they recognize Russia for what it is (and stand to be threatened) far more than the western nations. 

In Russia, however, we have a potential adversary of the "west" that has centuries-old traditions of realpolitik, and the concomitant power politics, in which their skill and experience far surpasses our own.  While we are no longer in a bi-polar zero-sum game vis a vis the Russians, such circumstances we would do well to remember.

ewok40k said...

The truth is Putin is making argument: you need more our gas than US wars. And this doesnt fall on the deaf ears in Germany or Italy... Poland still remebers times of WARPACT servitude, so we see it different. In fact tha idea of moving out of Europe plays entirely into hands of leftist crowd yelling "Yankees go home!", and of course Russians. Georgia war has left US-as- ally  credibility quite undermined, moving out of Europe would blow it to the pieces. Russians would not need to move tanks thru Berlin and Paris, all they need to make their governments follow the Moscow line quietly whispered in the corridors of power. Imagine scenario: US bombs Iran - Iran in a flash of brilliance detonates own nuke and accuses US of doing it. With Europe nations abstaining, UN security council votes by Russia and China trade sanctions against US. No more oil, tv sets, cars...

virgil xenophon said...

Europe has been allowed the luxury of multi-culti socialist pacifism due to our military umbrella which has allowed the expansion of the welfare state beyond all ability to pay for itself and provide for its own protection at the same time. But we are on the horns of a dilemma: We no longer can financially afford to allow our economic competitors to free-ride, yet there is no guarantee that going "cold turkey" on them will force them to devote the necessary $ to their own defense if the latest round of British defense cuts is any example--leading to policies of appeasement at every turn--especially if Iran gains nuclear-tipped ICBMs. Staying in some form has other advantages as well. IIRC--and I stand ready to be corrected--the Europeans largely off-set the dollar costs of maintaining our bases there so that it's actually cheaper to operate/train out of there than if everything was housed in CONUS.

Another problem is the disconnect between the left-wing "progressive" political and MSM elites and the general non-Muslim populace in all European countries. These elites have imbibed of the PC multi-culti kool-aid for so long that they are ABSOLUTELY BLIND to what is happening on the streets. The longer this disconnect continues in the face of increased Muslim immigration the greater the possibilities for an eventual race-war. There are already huge numbers of "no-go" zones in almost all countries--France, Sweden and Denmark prominent among them. Sweden has, for all practical purposes, lost control of Malmo, its third largest city to Muslim "youts" and sharia law.This trend cannot continue unabated. Things are going to get much worse--and probably NEVER get better short of a race-war on a massive scale leaving millions dead and the remaining Muslims fleeing. Either that, or Europe is lost to Islam by dint of demographics alone and Dihimmni status--as we see developing daily in GB on all sociocultural/political fronts--the law, housing, selective police "non-enforcement" and Muslim inflitration of Police and the bureaucracy/Quangos/NGOs
--will be the best that the Europeans can hope for--a tragedy of major proportions leaving us alone cut off from our roots--our soul--alone on our "own version of Pitcarin Island" as Zane put it over at Lex's place.

Byron said...

Ewok, my friend, do you remember how that making nice to the asshole snarling at you and holding a gun behind his back worked out?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

It was a good rant, though, Byron.  The intellectual equivalent of four cups of espresso. 

Anonymous said...

When you english-speakers were ruled by an intolerant religious dictatorship; it took the freedom loving Dutch to show you a little trick called free enterprise.  If you can point to a time when an invader successfully imposed their will on the tribes; maybe you can make Chief.  Start in 356-323 BC and work forward.   ;)

DeltaBravo said...

And it would be nice for the Russians to remember they have a bunch of potential Islamist fanatics growing in population beneath their underbelly as their own aging population is receding.  They're chess players.  I can't imagine they really REALLY want to tick us off in case they might not want to use our knights and pawns someday in a game down the line.  They might want to keep something in reserve there in case they need us again someday.  Is that so far-fetched to believe?

Bubba Bob said...

Uh, Tim,

<span> </span>The first English Civil War was won by religious extremists.  They established a religious dictatorship, the protectorate of England, forced the nation to follow the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, and began the erection of a Puritan Commonwealth.  The Taliban would be considered moderates. Christmas was banned.  Women were required to wear "modest" black garments.  Heretics, and catholics, were promptly executed. The Puritans required an austere lifestyle and restricted what they saw as the excesses of the previous regime. Most prominently, holidays such as Christmas and Easter, which were thought to have pagan origins, were suppressed. Pastimes such as the theatre and gambling were also banned.  Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector.<span> </span>

<span> </span>It was the excess of the religious dictatorship that led to the establishment of a bill of rights; and the importation of a liberal king from, (watch this now) Holland. 

<span> </span>Some people in an English colony got slightly twisted when the rights of an Englishman were denied them.  If you don’t know about the English Civil Wars; you certainly don’t understand the American Revolution.

<span> </span>But the point is, our religion created theocracies way worse than anything Islam has; only the ignorant can feel superior. I see your Osama bin Ladin; I raise you Tomás de Torquemada.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

We seem to have done just that here in North America.  The Conquesta of Central and South America seemed to go according to plan.  The Scots-Celts invading Ireland and replacing the Gaels over a thousand years ago worked.  Almost always, tribes lose permanantly to the better armed and organised invaders.  Afghanistan was never fully conquered, because Afghanistan doesn't have anything anyone wants, so it wasn't worth the effort. 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

<span>Well, Bubba,  
Your representation of the English Civil War is certainly enlightening.  I will argue that one could rightly say that the war was fought <span>against</span> religious extremists, too.  In reality, the Parliamentarians feared a return of England's subordination to the Papacy, and with some reason, as that would place them, they believed, at the mercy of Spain, and their mortal enemy, France. The fear of a Counterreformation in 1640 hearkened back to the burnings at the stake of the violently Catholic Mary.  
I will, however, take exception with the statement that it was "the excess of religious dictatorship" that brought William III from Holland.  Rather, it was the death of Oliver Cromwell.  One of the great ironies of the end of the Rump Parliament and the Restoration was that the perceived need for a king was not to replace Charles II, but to replace Cromwell.   
The separation of church and state, along with freedom of speech, press, and expression, is the essence of the First Amendment.  The language is a direct result of the aftermath of the English Civil War , as well as the religious overtones of the 1688 revolution and the events of 1745, which were couched in competing and mutually hostile and exclusive faiths.  But, I will remind you, such was the state of politics in virtually every European state at that time.   
The one thing you cannot try and pass off as having ANY credence, however, is the moral equivalence between the brutality of a 15th Century zealot and that of a 21st Century one.</span>

Old NFO said...

Considering the rapidly changing demographics of much of Europe it's hard to see us staying there much longer.  I'm not sure the US will be interested in "protecting" largely Islamic states.  Unless the native Europeans drastically change course, high immigration and high birthrates among the immigrants will soon overwhelm them.  The native populations are mostly failing to reproduce at replacement rate and simultaneously repudiating everything that defines them.  Unless this changes Notre Dame and Westminster Cathedrals will likely suffer the same fate as St Sophia within this century.  Where is Charles Martel when you need him?

ewok40k said...

Russians see USA as the only power capable of utterly destroying them - and for good reasons. US military is simply without peer atm. That is making you their no1 political opponent in the world, for now at least. And they don't fear muslim fanatics simply because they can live with odd terror attack, and have pacified successfully Chechens. If they have a fear of someone who can replace the US as main enemy, it is the Chinese.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Ican see the Chinese coming gunning for Russia someday.

ewok40k said...

And lets not forget Romans who were doing great for a quite while, and romanized most of the provonces to the point of giving citizenship... It took an internal political crisis coupled with major barbarian pressure to topple the empire.

Skippy-san said...

Ewok, I would submit that you are thinking of it with the wrong paradigm. The Russians don't have to fight the US-they have to out compete them. They have something to offer the Europeans that we don't-energy. The two power paradigm doesn't really have meaning anymore-its a multi-polar world. So the Russians know that time is on their side-and all they have to do is wait while the US expends its wealth and treasure on a loss leader in central Asia. Meanwhile the other competitors don't have to play in that game-and at the end of the day they come out econmically ahead. And-over time-Putin will in a dictatorial fashion get Russia's "stuff" together. They lure Europe and India to play along with them..........

Skippy-san said...

The Economist pointed out that the Euro-Muslim idea is not based on fact, demographic trends in Europe are quite different. I'm going to find the article and post the link.

MR T's Haircut said...

Looks like the Chinese took a play from Reagan... break the United States at the Bank like we did to the Soviet... we couldnt outspend Tahiti at the moment ....

ewok40k said...

But such strategy requires healthier economy than opponent... US Reagan era was certainly better than late Soviet, aided by low oil prices strangling Soviets for cash. Is China's economy healthier than US, and, moreover, what worldwide trends Chinese can use to undermine US economy? Ponder.

Bubba Bob said...

<span>1. Charles II was the replacement for Cromwell's son. It was William of Orange who was essentially hired to be King. After the restoration, the Stuarts continued to rule poorly; the second English revolution resulted in a king fleeing. Oliver Cromwell died in 1658. It was thirty years later, in 1688 that the Declaration of Right, was presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England.

2. A religious zealot is a religious zealot. I don’t think human nature has changed since Jesus walked among us; and a few hundred years is a blink of the eye. When one says Islam is a source of intolerance, you have to disregard a whole bunch of Christian hatred.
When I went back and read my text of the English Bill of Rights; I was struck by how important it was that there not be a standing army. If you read the U.S. constitution, the Army requires funding every year, while the Navy can have multi-year appropriations. If you look at our "nation building" in Iraq and Afghanistan; we are desperate to build a standing army in both these countries. I’m just saying.
If there is a polite way to say you should go back and study the roundheads and the Cavaliers I’d like to do it. You are completely wrong about which side the religious zealots were on. The Cavalier’s were hardly observant christians; drunken carousers was more their style. The New Model Army was a fascinating development; and any person interested in the military should look at how their rigorous discipline, based upon a religious ideology, made them such an effective fighting force.

MR T's Haircut said...

All of this is applicable to the islamization of Europe how??? 

UltimaRatioRegis said...


My point regarding the Restoration was just that.  There are some who consider the true interregnum to be 1640-1688, and there is merit in that argument.  Cromwell's son was not his father.  Followint the 1660 Restoration, Charles II proved an inadequate and rather incompetent (uninterested?) monarch.  In 1688, William III was de facto replacing Cromwell, who could be considered, before William, the last true ruler of Britain.