The Dutch government has told its soldiers to refrain from wearing the uniform in their own country. The reason? A series of tweets from a single jihadist, who warns of forthcoming attacks against Dutch soldiers in revenge for Holland’s participation in the military operations against ISIS.
It should be obvious that this policy of caving in to a threat will lead directly to more and escalated threats in the future. As the linked article says:
By ordering Dutch soldiers to become “invisible” in The Netherlands, what message is the government sending to its enemies, let alone its own citizens? Dutch-Iranian law professor Afshin Ellian rightfully asks: if Dutch soldiers aren’t safe anymore, than who is? Jihadists now know that a few tweets from a single Dutch jihadist can fundamentally alter Dutch defense policy. Dutch citizens now know that a few tweets from a single Dutch jihadist will send shivers down their government’s spine and that — instead of making sure all threats are neutralized — it will order the personnel tasked with keeping them safe, to hide.
(If this is the response from the Dutch government to a few threatening tweets, what level of appeasement will we see from them if the Islamists who control Iran gain the ability to provide intimidation via nuclear-armed ballistic missiles with Amsterdam within the circle of range?)
It is commendable for a government to be concerned about the safety of its citizens, including the members of its military, but an obsession with safety, if carried too far, can result in its opposite. Not for the first time, I’m reminded of a passage from Walter Miller’s great novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz:
To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law—a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security.
9 thoughts on “Dangerous Caution”
Claire Berlinski’s book Menace in Europe, which I recently reviewed, had some interesting things to say about Holland. She says that there was considerable positive feeling toward Nazi Germany prior to the war, and extensive collaboration during the occupation–even more than in France. She also notes the caving in to radical Islamic threats in the wake of Theo van Gogh’s assassination: for example, the destruction of a street mural with the legend “Thou Shalt Not Kill” on orders of the mayor of Rotterdam.
The Islamists will see this for what it is, weakness. Expect them to further press their advantage. From here, Europe certainly appears to be a civilization in decline. And we’re right on their heels.
If I were the sort of Dutch muslim that ISIS has on their target list, I would insist, as a matter of honor, that the military wear their uniforms. They would be protecting me against my enemies who want to kill me. They should hold their heads high while they do so and should wear their uniforms so I can more easily identify them and say “thank you”. If my country’s military has to hide, then how can I be expected to be more public than them about my own resistance to ISIS?
But I am not Dutch, nor am I muslim so it’s a bit much to ask somebody else to stick their neck out in a country that is an ocean away. What is clear, however, even from this distance, that it is not only the islamist muslims who will see this as weakness. Holland loses its own muslim allies by this measure who will be rightly fearful and more careful in how they resist their own extremists.
Let’s be pragmatic for a moment, shall we? The Netherlands might have a (to an American) stifling degree of social conformity, but it’s not a police state.
Therefore, how should members of the Dutch military go about protecting themselves from such a threat? For sure they aren’t allowed to carry concealed handguns or anything evil like that. (Heck, our own troops stateside who live off-base aren’t allowed to carry their own personal sidearms with them to and from work, either.)
For sure they aren’t allowed to carry concealed handguns or anything evil like that. (Heck, our own troops stateside who live off-base aren’t allowed to carry their own personal sidearms with them to and from work, either.)
Actually, wearing their sidearms sounds like a really good start to combating those sorts of threats. A show of force is far better than a show of weakness. Of course, I support anyone who is permitted a sidearm to be allowed to carry it and wear it openly.
“That oughta do it. Thanks very much, Ray.”
“For sure they aren’t allowed to carry concealed handguns or anything evil like that”
The world has changed; perhaps their minds and laws should change with it.
ErisGuy, I doubt even Geert Wilders would support that. He may not be civilizationally-suicidal like the major party folks are… but he is Dutch.
Natan Sharansky argues that the European idea will die in Europe and survive in Israel
I’ve been there once, to Amsterdam with it’s “Boys Town” delights and distractions. I recall sitting in one of the hundreds of charming pubs talking to a local. I remarked how “tolerant” the place seemed. He cautioned me not to be too deceived, that while the hippies, artists and hookers had the run of that town, many others were sick of the tolerance and the “Moroccans” and all the bs. He said many out of the tourist areas are rather conservative and were quite unhappy with the state of affairs in the low countries.
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