The Netherlands as a doormat for provocations against Russia

This article is a translation of "Nederland als doormat voor provocaties tegen Rusland"

To make a maximum impression the Americans have just arranged to have their armoured units drive through Europe in the direction of the Russian border. Normally tanks and other tracked vehicles are put on trains to avoid damage to road surfaces but in this case the decision was made to have a display of power, not just a displacement. In the Czech Republic and in Germany this was responded to by protests, but not in the Netherlands. After all we are directly involved in the most daring operations, like the parade in Narva in Estonia, reported previously, which came as close as 300 meters from the Russian border. And now a unit of F-15 fighter jets of the US National Guard has temporarily been deployed at Leeuwarden airfield in the north of the country.

Two countries had been selected to serve as way stations for this operation, viz., Bulgaria and the Netherlands. For the parade in Narva, there were, besides the Americans and local units, armoured vehicles from the Netherlands. For the rapid deployment force that must respond to ‘aggression’ from Moscow, troops have been made available by Germany, Norway, and … the Netherlands. Of course, to have a picture taken of three female ministers of defence is an unforeseen extra, because how in the world would they ever be as malicious as that brute in the Kremlin!

And then we are still not talking about those other fronts in the slowly expanding war in which the West has been digging itself in. In Mali there are troops from France and the Netherlands. In Turkey there are Patriot batteries from Germany and …

The question that arises in all of this is what has become of the famous Dutch peace movement. There was a time when that movement, under the slogan ‘get rid of the world’s nuclear arms, starting with Holland’, led the effort to turn the arms race around into a spiral of disarmament.

I remember vividly how Mient-Jan Faber, a gifted orator addressing mass demonstrations numbering hundreds of thousands for the Dutch Inter-church Peace Council, was being treated by the commentator of the Dutch newspaper NRC, J.H. Heldring. For whenever he wasn’t tracking down language mistakes, Heldring, a descendant of a famous family of Amsterdam notables, lectured on international politics.

Since Faber had grown too big to be dismissed with the familiar Cold War techniques, Heldring started to patiently re-educate him, expressing ‘reservations’ to what Faber had said, occasionally rewarding him with a compliment when Faber had made a ‘correct judgement’, and so on. Thus a channel of communication was established.

That could only improve when the IKV secretary began joining private delegations to Eastern Europe to speak to the ‘independent’ peace movement there.

Since the Warsaw Pact all along had the utmost difficulty to keep up the arms race, ‘peace’ since the 1950s had become a propaganda slogan of ‘Moscow’. Like so many other official duties in the Eastern bloc, ‘peace’ thus opened up career opportunities for party hacks and in the 1980s, when the shine of state socialism was fading more and more, the official peace policy slowly descended into corruption as well. I once myself visited young Hungarians who did translation jobs for the official peace council and heard them make dismissive remarks about the large black limousine that had just delivered ‘peace manuscripts’ for translation.

Of course, if one came to eastern Europe to speak to the opposition, the most repressive and unpleasant aspects of the system were never far away. The more the insight was brought home to the rulers in the east that they were losing the Cold War, the more unpleasant things became. Compared to that the mostly young, ‘independent’ peace movement was authentic and certainly not corrupt, except perhaps for the occasional subsidy from the Vatican or the CIA, as in Poland for instance.

Thus after a series of such visits to dissidents the IKV slogan was slowly but surely changed into ‘get rid of the world’s nuclear arms, starting with Russia’.

And the more critical Mient-Jan Faber became with respect to the Soviet bloc, the more Heldring showered him with compliments, I even remember he once used the word ‘statesman’.

Thus the real balance of forces between East and West was lost sight of. Once Gorbachev had signed the act of capitulation on the occasion of German reunification, the West went over to the offensive that has meanwhile brought us right up to the Russian border. We have supported the coup d’état in Kiev and the war against the rebellious provinces in the east without recognising for one moment that we are witnessing the continuing process of the collapse of the multinational Soviet Union.

There does not exist an ‘independent state of Ukraine’ that must be defended against ‘aggression’. At most there is a population that must be defended against the oligarchs that have run off with the riches of this former Soviet republic and who now are defending their interests with neo-fascist militias. Even Heldring, would he have been alive, would I think express ‘reservations’ as to the NATO policy, like those of his generation such as Kissinger and Helmut Schmidt have. Because we have in the meantime been degraded from the country of ‘get rid of the world’s nuclear arms’ to NATO’s doormat.

Kees van der Pijl

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