War is football?

9 September 2009

War is football?

Interest in the question of our country's involvement in the war in Afghanistan is once again flaring up. Support amongst the Dutch people for the military mission in Uruzgan is declining ever further. The sad news that two more soldiers have died in just two days has shocked everyone. Thousands of people are signing condolence registers. Of course, our first thoughts are for the friends and relatives of those who lost their lives.

By Remi Poppe

Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop also reacted with shock, but claims that things are indeed improving in Uruzgan. “We're making progress," he says. The new US NATO general in Afghanistan has arrived with a fresh strategy. No more hunting down the Taliban – priority will instead be the defence of civilians. This new strategy will bring victory closer.

I well remember that in the 1960s a new strategy was developed around twice a year, and each new strategy would definitely bring victory closer. Then too, generals and political leaders would constantly announce that progress had been made.

I'm talking about Vietnam. I can still see the pictures: masses of people trying to get through the gates of the American embassy in Saigon in order to board a helicopter and flee; helicopters dumped into the sea from aircraft carriers because there was no room for them on board and return to dry land was not an option.

Former Commander-in-Chief of Dutch armed forces Dick Berlijn does not share these visions. He is calling on us all to continue to support our soldiers. "Look," says Berlijn. "If during a football match your team goes a goal down, do you say, oh, we might as well give up? No, it's just then that the team's supporters must give extra encouragement."

A truly cast-iron argument for going on with our 'match' in Afghanistan. Football is war, as we know from our former national coach Rinus Michels. But to compare war with football in this way is simply scandalous.

Support the Afghan people - stop the war.

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