The big story here over the weekend in the Netherlands, for once, is one with ripples that extend out to touch many other countries. It’s namely the fall of our coalition government, called “Balkenende IV,” but more precisely it’s the reason the government fell, which was simple: one part of it (CDA, CU – both of those C’s stand for “Christian,” by the way) wanted to waffle on the plans to withdraw Dutch troops from Afghanistan by next August; the other part (PvdA) insisted that there be no waffling. Result: there will be no waffling, because the plans are going through, the troops will be back home by the end of the summer, and as an added bonus it looks like there will be (premature) national elections in May to determine a new parliament (Tweede Kamer) and a new government.
One way you can tell this is truly a “big story” (if ipso facto is not itself sufficient for your reasoning process) is that the weekend is not even over, yet reports of repercussions are already coming in. Here’s a piece from Trouw reporting how the governor of Uruzgan (the province in southern Afghanistan where most of the Dutch combat troops are), Asadullah Hamdam, is already getting worried and has called upon the Dutch government to change its mind. On the other hand, Afghan General Juma Gul Himat, chief of police there, says he’s willing to live with a Dutch withdrawal – for a price. He wants better training, better air support, faster economic development, and better equipment: mine-detectors, helicopters. (Ah, mon cher général – what part of “We’re outta here!” don’t you understand?) (more…)