NATO’s Afghanistan Push Causes Dutch Government to Collapse
Speaking of Afghanistan, the Dutch government has become the first to fall over the Afghanistan war after the Labour Party walked out of a governing coalition to reject NATO’s entreaty to keep Dutch troops in the war effort. The Financial Times:
Dutch withdrawal will be a psychological blow to the alliance and might set the tone for other nations seeking to minimise their involvement at a time when Barack Obama, the US president, has been lobbying Nato members to provide more troops for operations in Afghanistan. The Dutch pull-out will make it harder for Canada, for example, to reverse its decision to withdraw from Nato’s International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) before the end of 2011.
[Prime Minister Jan Peter] Balkenende said, in an interview on Dutch television: “When President Bush asked us to extend our activities we said yes and when President Obama, who has a lot of support in the Netherlands, made such a request, we say no.”. The prime minister said he was worried that the move could damage Dutch influence in international bodies like Nato and the Group of 20.
Beyond even the Afghanistan war, the Dutch collapse may be the first major setback for the Obama administration in Europe, where foreign publics tend to rate President Obama fairly highly. And the beneficiary of the collapse, according to the FT, may be a far-right Islamophobic and immigrant-bashing party firmly against the Afghanistan war.
I’ll have more on this later today.