SP leader says ‘Support Afghanistan, Stop the War’ as Parliamentary debate on Uruzgan ends

18 December 2007

SP leader says ‘Support Afghanistan, Stop the War’ as Parliamentary debate on Uruzgan ends

The Netherlands must help Afghanistan, but you don't do that by dropping bombs, said SP leader Jan Marijnissen in this evening's concluding session of the parliamentary debate on the prolongation of the military presence in the troubled province of Uruzgan.


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After more than a year of a Dutch military presence in the Afghan province, desperately little has been achieved and the outlook promises no improvement. The Taliban are growing ever stronger and there is no possibility of serious reconstruction. In the south of the country, despite all the good intentions, more bomb craters have been created than wells.

The Netherlands was supposed to give way to NATO partners in the summer of 2008, but these have, en masse, failed to show up, showing how empty the concept of 'solidarity' within NATO has become. Nevertheless, a majority composed of the three governing parties (Christian Democrats, Labour and Christian Union) together with the right-wing opposition parties (the liberal VVD and the Christian SGP), voted to prolong this 'mission impossible'. However, almost a third of MPs opposed it, the SP being joined by the Green Left and three other opposition groups: the right-wing populist PVV, the centrist D66 and the PvdD, the animal rights party. Together these four parties almost matched the SP's twenty-five votes, so that the vote against reached forty-six in all. Though this is a minority, polls – including one conducted by the Ministry of Defence itself - have shown that it mirrored the views of a majority of the electorate.

Jan Marijnissen explained why the SP could not support the mission, which, he said in concluding his speech, had no strategy. The Netherlands would be better using the resources poured into this mission in the north and west of Afghanistan, where there remains something to reconstruct. This would show the rest of the country that modernity has indeed some tangible benefits to offer them, in terms of progress, prosperity and wellbeing. “Help Afghanistan,” he ended, “stop the war.”

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