VVD: The Sky Is Blue

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

VVD: The Sky Is Blue

It should have been obvious that we're not winning any hearts and minds in the Muslim world by torturing people and locking them up incommunicado and without charge for years at a time. And plenty of people--we Demagogues having contributed in our own small way--have been pointing this out for a very long time. And yet it's still news when a pro-war party admits the obvious.

The VVD, or Liberal Party, is an important (albeit junior) partner in the center-right coalition that governs the Netherlands. The VVD strongly backed the government's decision to back the war, and although the Dutch didn't participate in the invasion, they did have troops in Iraq for a while during the occupation phase.

Now the VVD has said that violations of international law do matter, no matter what the Bush administration thinks. This is important on two levels. One is that the VVD might be right, and that Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and the torture facilities in Eastern Europe are counterproductive for public opinion both in the West and in Muslim countries. The other is that even if the VVD were wrong about that, the VVD believes it; in other words, whether our allies are right or wrong in their moral or political judgment, an administration that views the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" will continue to lose allies.

The Liberal Party (VVD) has warned its support for Dutch involvement in international military missions cannot be taken for granted if international laws in relation to warfare are not respected.

Liberal Party (VVD) Defence spokesman Hans van Baalen said the Abu Ghraib scandal, the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and rumours of secret US detention centres damaged the moral authority of the West....

Van Baalen said close cooperation between the US and Europe,
particularly within Nato, was essential to tackle many of the major problems in the world. These include Iraq, Iraq, North Korea and the Middle East.

He said [that] European countries, including the Netherlands, had to increase military spending and play their roles in military missions.

But Van Baalen said the "excesses" exposed at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and the rumours of secret US detention centres in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, undermined the battle against international terrorism.

"The Dutch government must continue to insist the US adheres to humanitarian laws to guarantee the continued support of the VVD for international operations," Van Baalen said.

"The battle against international terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan must not be lost due to public opinion in the US and Europe, including the Netherlands, as happened in Vietnam. That would play into the hands of the extremists in the Muslim world, while the fight is being won on the ground," he said.

Tomorrow's press conference: What Bears Do in the Woods.

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