Dutch Support Iraq Deployment

Friday, August 8th, 2003

Now that we’ve been on the subject in recent days of the support in various countries for the deployment of their troops on occupation duty in Iraq (Hungary and Poland already discussed), this article from the Reformatorisch Dagblad is timely. “Most of the Dutch are for military support in Iraq,” it proclaims in its headline. The particulars (from a survey of one thousand respondents undertaken by the Amsterdam-based TNS NIPO research organization): 60% of those polled supported the Dutch cabinet’s decision to send troops to Iraq, while “almost one-third” want no Dutch military presence in Iraq. Such support comes mainly from the right-wing of the Dutch political spectrum (from CDA and VVD members – and those are the two main parties making up the present governing coalition). Tellingly, 48% of those surveyed considered the actual danger that there will be Dutch killed or wounded to be small; 45% thought that the risk was substantial. Unfortunately, there’s no indication in the article of any attempt to get closer to the “cut-and-run” question that has been the central theme of recent €S coverage: i.e. what degree of Dutch casualties would cause you to start to advocate the unilateral withdrawal from Iraq of the Dutch troops there?

“There are Dutch troops in Iraq?” you may ask. Yes indeed: currently around 1,100 of them deployed in the south, under British command. But it seems that they are slated to pass under Polish command once the Poles and their allies deploy and take over their assigned sector at the beginning of next month. This article here (in English, but from the on-line Agenzia Giornalistica Italia) speaks of both Italy and the Netherlands balking at having to place their troops under Polish command. I don’t find anything yet from the Dutch press to substantiate this unseemly allied squabble, but I will keep on the look-out and let you know of anything that comes up.

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