December 12, 2010

The Rat

Forgot something regarding WikiLeaks in my previous blog. There was an interesting leak regarding to what some of our (Dutch) politicians had been up to. On the left here is Maxime Verhagen, former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Cabinet Balkenende IV. On 14 July 2009 Verhagen and then Prime Minister Balkenende (both belonging to the conservative Christian political party CDA) met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the leaked the document the following is revealed;

Mr Verhagen alluded to comments made by Jan Peter Balkenende – the Dutch Prime Minister at the time – to President Barack Obama. Mr Balkenende apparently told Mr Obama that, while there was disagreement in the cabinet on the Dutch military mission in Afghanistan, he was convinced that the Netherlands would continue to have a presence there to carry on the ‘3-D’ approach – defence, diplomacy and development.

What's so strange about this you might ask? Well, the Dutch mission in Afghanistan was extended twice and the last time with the explicit condition that the troops would be withdrawn by 2010. The document reveals that Verhagen and Balkenende alluded to extending the mission even though there was a lot of opposition, including from the coalition partner PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) who was strongly opposed. It gets worse. The Dutch government fell over this issue. The Labour Party gave the cabinet a deadline to confirm it would withdraw all 1,600 Dutch soldiers no later than December 2010 and the CDA and the CU refused.

Let me put it in more simpler terms. Verhagen and Balkenende went back on their promise of taking the troops home and (vaguely) promised to extent the mission (in some capacity), also knowing that their coalition partner would be against such action. This clearly is a violation of previous agreements. When the government fell the CDA and especially Verhagen vehemently blamed the Labour Party. The document however, reveals that Verhagen was engaged in some backdoor diplomacy. When this news came out this week I discovered that Verhagen already had a nickname that was used by many people to describe him. "The Rat." To top it off, Verhagen is again a minister in the current Dutch cabinet. You can't make this stuff up.

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