What is the Netherlands doing in Iraq?

27 december 2022 | Thierry Baudet

  • The west is totally hypocritical concerning international law.
  • American war crimes in Iraq demand excuses
  • Neoconservatism and ‘democratising’ the Middle East do not work.

On 22 December the Dutch Parliament debated the continuing the presence of the Dutch army in Iraq. The cabinet wants the mission to continue for yet another year.

Forum for Democracy asks fundamental questions about whether the West can ‘democratise’ the world.

We find it shockingly hypocritical that the West speaks of international law, while Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded without a valid reason. We think that apologies are due to the Afghan and and Iraqi peoples, because the West’s aggression has caused hundreds of thousands of civilian victims. 

With the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, a new ideology erupted into American foreign policy - ‘neoconservatism’. The neo-cons argued that the Western world could never live in peace for as long as people from other countries lived without freedom, because living without freedom feeds radicalism and radicalism feeds terrorism.

The attack on the Twin Towers was also almost immediately (and without much evidence) attributed, to an enigmatic organisation called ‘Al Queda’, that acted under the shady influence of an Arabian prince, one Osama Bin Laden.

He was supposed to be sheltering in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and from his cave sanctuary, had coordinated this attack. If we hoped to prevent acts of terror in the future, then we not only had to destroy this organisation but much more than that; we must bring democracy to the whole Muslim world.

Due to the supposed connection to Bin Laden, Afghanistan was the first target. On 7 October 2001 the carpet bombing of Kabul, Kandahar and other regions of the country began. In the context of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom,’ the American army actually invaded Afghanistan intending to drive out the ruling Taliban. 

This war of conquest was not based on a United Nations resolution, nor did the United States present convincing evidence that the attacks of 9/11 were launched from Afghanistan. The attack could not count as self- defence and the war was therefore a violation of what we call International Law.

When in August 2021, 20 years later, the United States admitted that their operation to drive out the Taliban had failed, they had already killed more than 243,000 people (and spent around 1,000 billion dollars).

In January 2002, the Americans embarked on the next step of this new path of ‘democratisation’. They opened a special prison in Guantanamo Bay on Cuba where the rules concerning the treatment of prisoners of war would not apply, and where prisoners could be tortured without interference. The United States was not ashamed of this approach; they did it openly to show that they were not concerned with the Geneva Convention’s international agreement of basic principles of humanity. 

A new ‘regime change’ operation began and the following year at the beginning of 2003, this time in Iraq.

On 5 February of that year, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, presented ‘evidence’ to the United Nations Security Council, claiming to prove that the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, had developed weapons of mass destruction. The world was not convinced (and later on, it appeared that the photos he used were also fake).  In the absence of any United Nations resolution  - and again on the spurious grounds of self-defence - the United States nevertheless invaded Iraq in March 2003.

From July 2003, the Netherlands also participated in this war. In the meantime, the number of dead in Iraq totalled more than 288,000. The Netherlands is also guilty. A Dutch F16 killed 70 innocent citizens near Mosul in 2015.

In the following years, other Middle Eastern countries had to deal with ‘regime change’ politics, with which policy makers and leaders were also involved, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), invaded Libya in 2011 - with a devastating war (and an uncontrollable refugee crises) to follow.  The USA also started a proxy-war in Syria, in order to unseat the Assad regime: that failed due to the stabilising involvement of Russia from 2015 onwards. 

During this whole time, we saw that the West - often in flagrant opposition with the international law which they purport to support - spreading death and destruction in the Middle East, causing hundreds of thousands of civilian victims, uncontrollable streams of refugees and economic hardship without a demonstrable result.

Therefore, what are we doing?

Why do we continue to support this ‘regime change’ politics, while it has become absolutely clear that it does not work? 

Why should the Dutch military remain in Iraq any longer while not one single meaningful goal is served by their presence?

The acknowledgement of one’s own faults, and the resulting adjustment of leadership, is one of the characteristics of civilisation. 

Since 9/11, foreign policy in the West has promoted, and is an example of, enormous and serious leadership errors. Making the world ‘safe by democracy’ has not worked. It led to an unsafe world, with many dead and at much financial cost.

We must acknowledge that we cannot recreate the Middle East to mirror the liberal American model. We must recognise that the world comprises many opposing ‘poles’, cultures and groups within countries, and these demand respect.

We must put an end to the hypocrisy of international law, now that we are aware that we have been completely wrong about it over the last three decades.  We should apologise for the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who have died in these dreadful and absurd military operations.


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