Dutch Prime Minister in Afghan war and expensive car trouble

This is a video of a demonstration in The Hague, the Netherlands, against the war in Afghanistan.

According to Dutch Autoblog.nl, Christian Democrat Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende has made the taxpayers of the Netherlands pay for an expensive Mercedes-Benz S 600 car for him.

If Balkenende really had to buy a Mercedes, then why an S-class, the most expensive “Special class”? If he really had to buy an S-class Mercedes, then why not a S 400 Hybrid; which would have saved the taxpayers half the money?

Why such an expensive car? Security, supporters of Balkenende will claim. However, just like the S 600, the S 400 Hybrid is available in an extra security “Guard” version.

Balkenende preaches asceticism to the mass of people in the Netherlands “because of the economic crisis“. He plans to raise the age at which workers’ old age pensions start from 65 to 67 years. However, he evidently thinks there should be one rule for the people, and quite another rule for himself.

At the moment, it is uncertain for how long Balkenende’s three party government coalition will stay together. NATO is pressuring the Netherlands to continue to contribute to the Afghan war with troops in Uruzgan province. The Dutch government had promised that that military mission would end in 2010. Balkenende now wants to break that promise to the electorate, giving in to NATO.

The PvdA (Dutch Labour), the second biggest of the three parties in the government coalition, now says (like the overwhelming majority of the Dutch people) that the Uruzgan mission should not be continued beyond 2010. Without the PvdA, there would be no majority in parliament for continuing the Uruzgan mission. This clash inside the government has led to suspicions in the Dutch media that the three party coalition will break up soon.

Just a few days ago, the ruling coalition survived criticism of the prime minister because Balkenende had supported George W. Bush’s illegal Iraq war, and had lied to parliament about that support. Then, like in other cases, like the pensions issue, the PvdA gave in to Balkenende. It is to be hoped that, just for once, they will not break their promises on Afghanistan now; and that Balkenende will become political history.

A Nato air raid has mistakenly killed at least 15 tribal fighters fighting on the side of the government in Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan: here.

The UN will not participate in Nato reconstruction plans for Marjah, the target of an ongoing military offensive, officials have announced: here.

6 thoughts on “Dutch Prime Minister in Afghan war and expensive car trouble

  1. Dutch Cabinet deadlocked over Afghanistan mission

    Posted: Feb 17, 2010 7:28 PM Updated: Feb 17, 2010 8:28 PM

    Associated Press Writer

    AMSTERDAM (AP) – The Dutch Cabinet was deadlocked Wednesday over extending the Netherlands’ mission with NATO in Afghanistan, and it appears likely to reduce its 1,600 troop presence there.

    Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos said his Labor Party will oppose a formal NATO request to remain in the restive southern province of Uruzgan. The Dutch mission ends in August.

    The departure of the Netherlands would be a blow to hopes that NATO’s European members will expand operations in Afghanistan before beginning to withdraw in 2011.

    PrimeMinister Jan Peter Balkenende and his Christian Democrats want to extend the mission for a year, possibly in reduced form.

    But Bos’ highly public stand Wednesday makes it unlikely without risking a political crisis that could bring down the coalition government.

    “The promise we made to the Dutch voter two years ago must be kept, that the last Dutch solider must be gone from Uruzgan by the end of the year,” Bos told reporters.

    Balkenende said Bos did not speak for the Cabinet, and his comments were not the country’s official response to the request sent by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen this month.

    “We have a great international responsibility to take the request of the secretary general of NATO seriously,” Balkenende said.

    Both Bos and Balkenende declined to answer questions about whether the dispute has the potential to cause the fall of the government.

    Parliament has instructed the Cabinet to decide on Afghanistan by March 1.

    The current Dutch mission began in August 2006. In all, 21 Dutch soldiers have been killed in Uruzgan.

    Copyright 2010 The Associated Press


  2. Displaced Afghan families in Helmand complain about inadequate aid – TV
    Feb 18, 2010 (BBC Monitoring via COMTEX) —

    [Presenter] On the sixth day of Operation Moshtarak by Afghan and NATO forces in Helmand Province, the number of the displaced families has reached 1,600. Officials say the displaced families have fled the war area and sought refuge in Lashkargah city [provincial capital]. According to officials, the government has provided the displaced people with emergency aid. However, the displaced persons say aid has been given to those who have links with government officials.



  3. People of the Year: Malalai Joya


    Jeffrey Allen, OneWorld US – Thu Feb 18, 12:30 pm ET

    for putting her own life at great risk to speak loudly against the forces — domestic and international — that are keeping the Afghan people from living in security

    WASHINGTON, Feb 18 (OneWorld.net) – Afghanistan’s youngest member of parliament is also a women, and perhaps one of its most educated, and outspoken.

    Malalai Joya’s public cries against the Taliban, the U.S./NATO forces, and the Karzai government — which she says is laden with warlords and fundamentalists — have put her in grave danger. She has been physically attacked on the floor of parliament. She has been ejected from the governing body. Twice. And she has survived five assassination attempts.

    Much of Joya’s adult life has been spent working to bring about a truly democratic Afghanistan — one that represents the interests of regular Afghans rather than the strongmen who have reigned over much of the country for decades.

    Joya believes Afghanistan’s post-Taliban government has failed the country’s people, favoring short-term political expediency over the long-term interests of Afghans. She has railed repeatedly against the influence of warlords in the current government, and called for the withdrawl of foreign troops from the country.

    In 2009, the 31-year-old published a memoir of her experiences, A Woman Among Warlords (also called Raising My Voice in Britain and Australia). She spent the latter part of the year traveling the United States and Canada to tell her story. During that tour, New America Media’s Aaron Glantz spoke to Joya about her beliefs and her experiences.

    EXCERPTS from the New America Media article, “Afghanistan’s ‘Bravest Woman’ Pins Hopes on USA, not Obama”

    by Aaron Glantz

    Malalai Joya has been called “Afghanistan’s bravest woman.” When the Taliban ruled her country, she braved death, running an underground girls school. When the U.S. military overthrew the Taliban, she ran for parliament.

    But that doesn’t mean she’s a supporter of the U.S. military or President Obama’s decision to double the number of American troops in her country.

    “Unfortunately, President Obama’s foreign policy is a lot like [that of the] criminal Bush,” she said in a sit-down in interview during a recent visit to San Francisco. “He follows war in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Pakistan.”

    Joya’s opposition to the U.S.-NATO occupation of Afghanistan began shortly after foreign troops arrived in 2001.

    Immediately “after the 9/11 tragedy, my people thought maybe this time the US government will be helpful for our people,” she said. “They were hopeful that Taliban domination has been destroyed and maybe this time they will give a chance to justice-loving, democrat-minded people of my country. At least to people who don’t have bloody hands!”

    But Joya found that hope dashed quickly — as early as in December 2003 — in the first meeting of Afghanistan’s newly-elected constitutional assembly. She looked around the room and saw the United States and NATO had invited a who’s who of the warlords who had destroyed her country to form a new government.

    She was 24. And she couldn’t stay silent.

    “I wish to criticize my compatriots in this room,” she said amid boos, catcalls and scattered cheers. “Why would you allow criminals to be present at this Loya Jirga, warlords responsible for our country’s situation? Afghanistan is the center for national and international conflicts. They oppress women and have ruined our country. They should be prosecuted. They might be forgiven by the Afghan people, but not by history.”

    The chairman responded by throwing her out.

    “The sister has crossed the line of what is considered common courtesy,” he said, banging his gavel. “She is banished from this assembly and cannot return. Send her out! Guards, throw her out! She doesn’t deserve to be here.”

    But Joya did not give up. She ran for Parliament again in 2005 and was elected a second time. In 2006, she was physically attacked on the floor of the Parliament, when she said: “There are two types of Mujahidin” — freedom fighters — “one who were really Mujahidin, the second who killed tens of thousands of innocent people and who are criminals.”

    Joya was again expelled from Parliament. One lawmaker, Jebel Chelgari, said that wasn’t enough. She should be punished with a gun, he said. Like many members of post-Taliban Parliament, Joya says Chelgari has a reputation for brutality.

    “This cruel man, this non-educated, ignorant man,” she says, “is famous in his province as a head eater. Because he has killed so many people they do not even mention his name. They call him ‘head eater.'”…

    Joya says she has hope for the future. If the NATO and the U.S. military leave Afghanistan, she says life will gradually improve.

    If “these occupation forces leave Afghanistan and their governments leave us alone then we’ll know what to do with our destiny — if they leave us a little bread and peace, because these warlords and the Taliban have no fruit among the heart of my people. My people hate them.”

    In this way, she sees the weakness of Hamid Karzai’s government as a strength, not a cause for concern.

    “Resistance of my people is a big hope for my people of Afghanistan. That’s why my message to the great people of the U.S. and the around the world is that your government must leave our country. But you are the ones that must join your hands with us: human rights organizations, justice-loving people and intellectuals, feminist organizations — they are the ones that must not leave us alone. As much as we can, we need your support.


  4. Killing Children Won’t Make Us Safer

    Last weekend, twelve members of one Afghan family —including six children—were killed during NATO’s offensive in Marjah. We can’t begin to comprehend the grief of those affected by this massive loss. ISAF NATO Commander, US General Stanley McChrystal has apologized to President Karzai, but how can his words be anything but cold and empty to those left behind?
    Won’t you join us in writing to NATO Command to let them know that if they continue to kill Afghan babies and children, they will only create more terrorists? An apology alone won’t appease those who have suffered such profound loss. These military attacks are not making us safer; in fact, they are inspiring more people to take up arms against our troops.


    Peacefully Yours, Nancy A. Hey


  5. Pingback: Afghans demonstrate against murderous US-backed warlord | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Audi’s nazi concentration camp past | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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