Honesty Upon Parting

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

The name’s Berlijn: Dick Berlijn. He’s Dutch, of course. He’s a general. In fact he is currently Commandant der Strijdkrachten, the highest-ranking officer in the Dutch armed forces, equivalent to the American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But now, after almost a forty-year military career – spent mostly in the Koninklijke Luchtmacht, i.e. the Dutch air force – he’s about to head off into retirement.

In other words, as anyone with any military experience would put it: he’s a short-timer! (Or “short,” for short, meaning that your military service and the obligations related thereto are about to expire. I myself have been “short,” in fact twice.) It means you (mostly) don’t have to care anymore. It means you (finally!) can open up a bit and say what you really think. (more…)

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Equal Rights for National Defense in the Czech Republic

Friday, January 7th, 2005

With the new year a new national defense law came into effect in the Czech Republic – one that marks a change from most such regimes in the Western world in that it no longer discriminates between the obligations of men and women. This development is tracked in a handful of articles in the Czech press – here, here, and here – which soon all started to sound rather alike to me, until I realized that they are basically the same article from CTK, the Czech News Agency! So take your pick, although the first article (from MFDnes) has the best photo of uniformed babes, if you’re into that sort of thing. (more…)

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Dutch Friendliness in Iraq Can Mean Vulnerability

Tuesday, August 17th, 2004

Late last Saturday the second Dutch soldier to die in Iraq was killed when the convoy of two vehicles he was riding in was ambushed near Ar-Rumaytah in the South of the country . . .

Stop right there, MAO, you interrupt. The second Dutch soldier to die in Iraq? Look, that’s part of the risks for any military contingent that is there. Are we going to get a bulletin on this weblog every time a Dutch soldier bites the dust, just because you happen to live in their country – this when the total of American dead is pushing 950 and counting? Why don’t you favor us instead with accounts of ten US Marines dying in one day (free registration required), but while on the attack – why don’t you give credit where it’s due for real pain and suffering on a somewhat more significant scale?

You certainly have a point, although articles like the one just linked to (reference thanks to Intel Dump) are in English, so you don’t need my help to know what they say. I really don’t intend to report every Dutch fatality in Iraq; hopefully there won’t be any more, but you have to think that that’s unlikely. More pertinently, though, this latest incident – definitely the most serious violent incident of the entire Dutch occupation presence (so far) – raises interesting questions about the rather different way the Dutch go about their military duties there. (more…)

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