Dutch foreign minister, defense minister resign over failings of Afghanistan withdrawal

(OPCW)

Two top officials in the Netherlands are doing what lots of others should be doing in other countries. Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag and Defense minister Ank Bijleveld have resigned their positions after the failures of the country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Dutch parliament censured the Cabinet on Thursday over its handling of the evacuations from Afghanistan for Dutch allies.

The foreign minister immediately offered her resignation after a no-confidence vote from the lower house of parliament, which passed the motion of censure against the Cabinet. She admitted to the government’s slow or muddled response to warnings that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan would mean that local staff and translators for Dutch troops would not be evacuated.

“Your chamber has decided the Cabinet acted irresponsibly,” Kaag said. “I can only accept the consequences of this judgment as the minister with ultimate responsibility.”

The Dutch military managed to evacuate about 2,100 to neighboring countries at the end of August, Reuters reported. However, hundreds of Dutch citizens and an unspecified number of Afghan allies who assisted Dutch troops or worked for nongovernmental organizations who were unable to reach the Kabul international airport in time were left behind.

Hmm. Hundreds of citizens and Afghan helpers were left behind in Afghanistan once the Taliban took over the country. That sounds familiar. The United States was the largest member of the coalition on the ground in Afghanistan yet none of the American leaders have resigned. They haven’t even offered an apology for their actions. While we can’t expect Sleepy Joe to resign (though we would like that), his Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense should. Toss in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, too. Kick them all out.

The Dutch Defense Minister, Ank Bijleveld was also called upon to resign but didn’t do so when Kaag did. She held out a little longer.

Don Ceder, a member of the faith-based Christian Union, said in a statement earlier Thursday that the party supported the motion against Kaag and a similar one against Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld — a move that secured majority backing for the censures.

Ceder said the government “failed to show decisiveness, to show compassion, to pick up on signals and ultimately to take responsibility for people for whom we bear responsibility.”

Kaag’s been in charge of a caretaker Dutch government. There have been long negotiations to form a new ruling coalition since a general election in March. She leads the D66 party, a centrist party. She has been working closely with Prime Minister Mark Rutte, a conservative of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. Dutch media reports that Kaag will remain the D66 party leader and continue her involvement in coalition talks. Kaag’s deputy is taking over the foreign minister role until a permanent replacement is found

Today Defense Minister Bijleveld also resigned.

‘I wanted to continue with the task ahead of me, the men and women in the frontline and the interpreters who are still in Afghanistan,’ she said in a short statement. ‘But my continuation has become a subject for discussion, so I cannot do my work in the proper manner.’

Boris Johnson is reshuffling his cabinet in the aftermath of the Afghanistan withdrawal. He demoted Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Raab has been criticized for delaying his return from vacation in Greece as the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

Liz Truss is the UK’s new foreign secretary – the first woman to hold the post in more than a decade – after Boris Johnson demoted Dominic Raab to justice secretary in the wake of the Afghanistan crisis.

Truss, a free marketer beloved of Conservative members, had been international trade secretary since 2019.

Hmm. That, too, sounds familiar. Tony Blinken was called back from his vacation in East Hampton as Kabul fell to the Taliban. He left D.C. on August 13, just two days before Afghanistan’s collapse on August 15.

So, as Joe Biden calls it a day around noon today and heads off to his beach house for the weekend again, his inept cabinet remains intact. Biden refuses to admit any mistakes were made or that he did or did not ignore the advice of the military leaders. His historically poor foreign policy decision-making had some tragic results this time. Why any of these people are still employed in the Biden administration is beyond me.